Desert Silence

desert silence“City life is a constant, maddening hum. Only in a place like the Sahara can we hear the nothingness that revives…

As you get older you value silence more. Your nerves get jangled more easily. Loud music becomes less and less attractive. Instead of wanting to rev up, you seek ways to calm down. But I suspect the search for real silence goes deeper than just a desire to relax. It’s no accident that many religious orders have vows of silence. Only in silence can the soul unburden itself and then listen out for subtler signs, information from the unknown inner regions.

How much silence does a person need? You can get greedy for it, addicted to it. I know people who spend half their time in the desert and the other half working out how to get back to it. They are running away from life, some say; they are certainly running away from noise. Recent research suggests that long-term exposure to noise doesn’t just damage hearing (and the average decibel level in Cairo is 85, often getting to 95 and higher, which is only slightly quieter than standing next to a jackhammer); it damages your heart. Continuous noise causes chronic stress. Stress hormones become your constant companion, circulating day and night, wearing out your heart. That must be why the first few days in the desert seem so wonderfully rejuvenating. I’ve seen an elderly man — a retired heart surgeon, coincidentally — go from doddering around the camp to springing along the edge of dunes and rocky cliffs. That’s the power of silence.
twigger 2
You know you’re cured when you relish the sound of loud pop music again. Crowded clubs hold no fear; the pumping bass seems like a familiar friend, not a message from the Antichrist. You can ‘take it’. Modern life is ‘OK’. You’ve detoxed and the result is that you seem more youthful. Young people haven’t filled themselves up with noise (yet), so they actively seek it out. For those who have had too much, then emptied it out, the glad return to a noisy world is invigorating. How long does the immunity last? About two weeks, if you’re lucky.
From http://aeon.co/magazine/oceanic-feeling/robert-twigger-desert-silence/
twigger
Robert Twigger is a British poet, writer and explorer. He lives in Cairo, Egypt.
See
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Twigger
http://www.roberttwigger.com/
twigger book
Wigtown Book Festival hires resident hermit

“Being a literary hermit is not a job widely advertised – but it has its perks. Wigtown Book Festival in south-west Scotland has hired Robert Twigger as its resident hermit for the duration of the 10-day festival next week. He will set up home in a purpose-built grotto, constructed from reclaimed timber, found on Wigtown beach, in the garden of Wigtown’s largest bookshop, with a hose to the nearest standpipe in order for him to take a shower.
“As a writer, life is pretty hermitic anyway,” says Twigger. “I have had loads of training sitting alone writing. Also not visiting people in order to get a book finished hardened me up quite a lot… I shall be happy to extol the virtues of solitude to all and sundry.”
Shaun Bythell, owner of the bookshop, said: “We discussed how a little hardship can aid the creative process. This isn’t exactly a new idea, although you have to go back a way to a time when it was common.”
Twigger, who is usually based in Cairo and writes largely autobiographical adventure books, will also act as writer in residence and talk about his latest book, “The Nile: A History”, at the festival.”
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/wigtown-book-festival-hires-resident-hermit-2355280.html

see also http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/blog/rewrite/2011/10/robert-twigger-being-the-wigtown-book-festival-hermit-in-residence

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