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Aldous Huxley, radio in The Age of Noise

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

According to English satirist & humanist, Aldous Huxley, we live in the “Age of Noise.” When he wrote this, in 1945, he implicated radio:

“The twentieth century is, among other things, the Age of Noise. Physical noise, mental noise and noise of desire — we hold history’s record for all of them. And no wonder; for all the resources of our almost miraculous technology have been thrown into the current assault against silence. That most popular and influential of all recent inventions, the radio, is nothing but a conduit through which pre-fabricated din can flow into our homes. And this din goes far deeper, of course, than the ear-drums. It penetrates the mind, filling it with a babel of distractions – news items, mutually irrelevant bits of information, blasts of corybantic or sentimental music, continually repeated doses of drama that bring no catharsis, but merely create a craving for daily or even hourly emotional enemas. And where, as in most countries, the broadcasting stations support themselves by selling time to advertisers, the noise is carried from the ears, through the realms of phantasy, knowledge and feeling to the ego’s central core of wish and desire.”

In many ways, this is still true–but not necessarily of radio. I daresay if Mr. Huxley were still around, radio would be the least of his concerns.  Radio has gradually become the least invasive of the media that surrounds us, for the “noise” is now primarily visual:  unless we make an effort to “quiet” them, images bombard us from all sides….Ironically, radio now requires turning down the volume on these and everything else, in order to experience the same world of noise that Huxley once found so overwhelming.

(He obviously never listened to pirate radio.)

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