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Noise

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There are two basic ways to go mad. One is historical and the other, existential. Your personality may be festering one or more maladies of a psychological or neurological nature which eventually produce madness. Addiction can always help. Essentially, a wet brain is an alcoholic who had been driven mad by drink. Most existential madness results from torture, used as an expedient to get information out of political captives. But a small slice of the madness pie can be accounted for by jackhammering, what in New York parlance is called "opening up the street." Steam and sewage pipes are always bursting and there is nothing to do, but go down under to dig up the mess and if the problem is serious enough, as in the case of a major water main break, the going down under can go on for days, weeks, even months, with the result that those living in the near vicinity of these excavations pay the price. Noise pollution is the polite term. It's like termination with extreme prejudice or extraordinary rendition, euphemisms that covers over the murder that is taking place. If "Macbeth does murder sleep," such projects take eliminate any vestiges of peace in the urban jungle with its sirens, honking cabs and insistent car alarms that go off in the middle of the night. If silence is golden, then in Manhattan the experience of silence is the equivalent of the gold rush of '49 to those who crave relief from the pounding that's driving many of them nuts. Tinnitus is a condition where one hears ringing in the ears. The sound of the streets constantly being opened up is outside the ear, but it leaves its mark on not only he eardrum but the neurogenic pathways that monitor auditory sensation in the brain, many of whose dendrites and axons get rubbed raw. "It was like getting a note saying you'll be executed at dawn," The Times quoted a sufferer by the name of Roberto Gautier, a Brooklyn Heights resident, after he was informed "that nightly construction was likely to continue until 2014" ("Behind City's Painful Din, Culprits High and Low," NYT, 7/12/13).

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}

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