Monday, April 12, 2010


I walked home deaf today; that is, when my battery died at around 4:45 as I left work, I chose not to put on a fresh one and instead made the walk home in the pleasant silence of voluntary deafness.

I like being voluntarily deaf by times. You can hear yourself think. In fact I was reminded of a passage I read recently in Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion", which I am close to finishing:

"[American psychologist Julian] Jaynes notes that many people perceive their own thought processes as a kind of dialogue between the 'self' and another internal protagonist inside the head. Nowadays we understand that both 'voices' are our own..."

I had been vaguely aware that my interior thoughts seemed to consist of some kind of dialogue, an ongoing conversation between - who? Me and me? - but had never seen it explained - or at least expressed - before.

So I had a nice, silent internal dialogue with myself on the way home, about silence and the nature of internal dialogue and Julian Jaynes and the Dawkins book.

How ironic that after all these years, this is where peace lies.




Blogger Brian Fies said...

Nice essay. I think it'd be patronizing or otherwise insensitive of me to say I envy your ability to turn off a big piece of the world (no, I wouldn't want to trade). But I'll say I'm glad you're alert to such experiences and thanks for reminding me to be likewise when I find similar opportunities myself.

9:28 p.m.  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

wonderful post. the blessed silence is the guilty secret of being deaf. pls tell us what you think of dawkins's book when you're done. i've mightily enjoyed his comments on the pope recently: "a leering old villain in a frock."

9:44 p.m.  
Blogger Mike Peterson said...

I do wonder about how little time people have these days to be unstimulated. I see people on the Rail Trail when I'm walking the dogs, and they've got iPods plugged in and I wonder, what's the point? but also, when do they have those internal conversations in which you sort out the world and your feelings about it?

Perhaps they have a different kind of voluntary deafness.

7:51 a.m.  
Blogger Carl said...

The brain has many modules. Some people (me) use music to occupy one part of the brain, which lets another set of modules think without being distracted.

Obviously that's just my subjective experience but it fits the current model pretty well.

8:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great post

there is a great video on hearing loss and new tech devices at

1:07 a.m.  

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