Insight on the News

April 1, 2002

Stonehouse was a 13th century Zen monk and hermit who lived on Hsiamushan Mountain in China’s Shekiang province. He liked his peace and quiet, and produced quite a bit of poetry along these lines: “Dense bamboo shades my windows, thick moss covers the steps in front, desires die in the quiet, cares disappear–it’s so still.”

You have to wonder, in today’s plugged-in, wired, revved-up world, if it would be at all possible to experience quiet as Stonehouse knew it. Well certainly not in Bloomington, Indiana, according to a group called Noise Free America.

The group issues an “award” each month to a community that it believes subjects its citizens to “a daily barrage of boom cars, defeaning exhaust systems, blaring store music, droning low-flying plantes and thumping campus bars and fraternities.” Bloomington is seen as being on the cutting edge of cacophony since its library sytstem held a boom car workshop for kids and its fairgrounds played host to a boom car extravaganza.

In accouncing the selection of Bloomington, the anti-noise group included a quote from JOrgen Christiansen, a visitor from Denmark: “This is my first time in America. But I tell you, I cannot wait to go back to Denmark. No one can make so much noise to bother people in Denmark. You pay a big fine or go to jail.” Nt quite the poetry of Stonehouse, but an indication that his appreciation of peace and quiet lives on.