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References to Noise/Quiet in Popular Literature
REFERENCES TO NOISE/QUIET IN POPULAR LITERATURE - JUVENILE FICTION
"The Phantom Tollbooth", (c) 1961, by Norton Juster, 256 pages.
"This unusual fantasy, besides being very amusing, has a quality
that will quicken young minds and encourage readers to pursue
pleasures that do not depend on artificial stimulation".
- Charlotte Jackson, Atlantic Monthly
"A delightful, fanciful allegory brimming with imagination to
enchant children and with symbolism to tickle adults".
- C.H. Bishop, Commonweal
In this popular allegorical fantasy, the Kingdom of Wisdom is
divided by a fued between King Azaz of Dictionopolis, city of words,
and the Mathemagician who rules Digitopolis, city of numbers. Each
ruler thinks his way is best and refuses to cooperate with the other.
The hero, Milo, a very bored boy who always wishes he were somewhere
else, and the ticking watchdog Tock, undertake a hazardous journey
through the Forest of Sight, the Valley of Sound and the Mountains of
Ignorance to rescue Princesses Rhyme and Reason and restore the
The book has been translated into many languages. A film based on
the book was made by MGM in 1969, and a stage play was produced in
Wilmington Delaware in 1995.
The consecutive chapters "Dischord and Dynne" and "The Silent
Valley" are rich with recurring references to noise, listening, and
the appreciation of quiet. Here are some excerpts:
"I am KAKOFONOUS A. DISCHORD, DOCTOR OF DISSONANCE..."
"What does the 'A' stand for?"
"AS LOUD AS POSSIBLE,..."
"But who would want all those terrible noises?" asked Milo.
"Everybody does. They're very popular today. Why I'm so busy I
can hardly fill the orders for the noise pills, racket lotion,
clamor salve, and hubbub tonic. That's all people seem to want
"Business wasn't always so good," the doctor continued. "Years ago,
everyone wanted pleasant sounds and, except for a few orders during
wars and earthquakes, things were very bad. But then the big cities
were built and there was a great need for honking horns, screeching
trains, clanging bells, deafening shouts, piercing shrieks, gurgling
drains, and all the rest of those wonderfully unpleasant sounds we
use so much of today..."
"This is my assistant, the awful DYNNE," said Dr. Dischord.
"What is a DYNNE?" asked Milo...
"You mean you've never met the awful DYNNE before?" said Dr.
Dischord in a surprised tone. "Why, I thought everyone had. When
you're playing in your room and making a great amount of noise, what
do they tell you to stop?"
"That awful din," admitted Milo.
"When the neighbors are playing their radio too loud, late at
night, what do you wish they'd turn down?"
"The awful din," answered Tock.
"When the street on your block is being repaired and the pneumatic
drills are working all day, what does everyone complain of?"
"The dreadful row," volunteered the Humbug brightly.
"The dreadful RAUW,' cried the anguished DYNNE, "was my
grandfather. He perished in the great silence epidemic of 1712."
. . .
Milo walked slowly down the long hallway and into the little
roum where the Soundkeeper sat listening to an enormous radio
"Isn't that lovely?" she sighed. "It's my favorite program -
fifteen minutes of silence - and after that there's a half hour of
quiet and then an interlude of lull. Why, did you know that there
are almost as many kinds of stillness as there are sounds? But,
sadly enough, no one pays any attention to them these days.
Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the
dawn?" she inquired. "Or the quiet and calm just as a storm
ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer
to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at
night, or the expectant pause in a roomfull of people when someone
is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment
after the door closes and you're all alone in the whole house?
Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful, if you
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For info, send message "info quiet-list" to same.
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