Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, February 18

"This is the reason modern war is so monstrous:
its terrible reality is not seen in itself, but only as
part of the noise of radio. It does not stand
concretely before the human mind in itself and
therefore it is not properly controlled. Perhaps
war is becoming more and more violent and
terrible today because it wants to be seen as
what it really is, to be seen quite clearly as the
terrible thing it really is and not as a mere part
of the noise of the radio.

In times in which the power of silence was
still effective, war was heard from the
background of silence, and against this background it
became absolutely clear. There was still an
elemental simplicity in its terrors, and its noise
subsided again in the death that it brought in its
train. In these earlier forms of war man simply
suffered it in silence. It was not an object for
discussion, but an elemental experience.

Today, war is not even a rebellion against
silence; it is merely the biggest whirl of noise
in the general noisy bustle of life. If war reports
were not blaring out from the radio every
minute of the day the cannon fire and the wails
of the dying would be heard everywhere. In the
silence the wails of the dying would be heard
and they would weigh down even the sound of
the guns. In the silence the war would be heard
so loud that it would become intolerable. But
the constant noise of the war reports levels down
the sound of the guns and the cries of the dying
to the general and universal noise. War becomes
a part of the general noise of radio, adapted to
it; and as a result it is taken for granted like
everything that appears in the noise of radio.

It is as though the many and great deaths that
take place today were an attempt to restore a
zone of silence.When the noise-machine reaches
a maximum as it does today, then silence shows
itself as a maximum of death."

Max Picard
*The World of Silence*
Gateway, 1961
pps 202-203