A slender investigation into the idea of silence and its importance to those who dwell in the ceaseless noise of the modern world.
Norwegian explorer and publisher Kagge (A Poor Collector's Guide to Buying Great Art, 2015, etc.), the first person to reach all of the Earth's "three poles"—the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest—should be an expert on silence; he once spent more than 50 days trekking alone, without radio contact, to the South Pole in Antarctica, “the quietest place I’ve ever been.” A dinner conversation with his family and a lecture on the topic provided the author with the impulse to write this book, which consists of 33 attempts to answer a series of questions: "What is silence? Where is it? Why is it more important now than ever?" Drawing from his personal experiences, as well as conversations with artists, poets, athletes, philosophers, and musicians, Kagge challenges readers to grapple with the concept, inside of which, he contends, "the world's secrets are hidden." Interspersed with the short chapters are images, including photographs taken by the author during his expeditions and works by artists including Ed Ruscha and Catherine Opie. Despite its philosophical nature, the book is aimed at a general readership, and, befitting the subject matter, the narrative has a meditative quality. Kagge explores his subject from many different angles—not simply as the absence of sound but as a matter of human perception, a force both external and internal. Though they contain no startling revelations, his reflections provide a thoughtful approach to a topic of import to many who live in "the age of noise."
An eloquent and persuasive argument for the significance of silence, in all of its forms, from an author who has explored the limits of the human experience.