Asks the unnamed protagonist, "Just exactly what is that sound?" The loud noise of hammering that drags him into antithetical world of his real beliefs. Constantly interrupting his thought stream and transporting him into an entirely different realm. A sorely thudding recall for a young Japanese soldier, of a short story A Sound of Hammering, who has returned home after his country's surrender at the end of World War II.
Set in 1947 postwar Japan, ravaged by hunger and homelessness, besides dilemmas born out of futility of war and relocation of life thereafter, it's a story that portrays 'hammer' as a noisy tormentor all along. Throughout the narrative, while the protagonist addresses his admired writer in the form of a letter, trying to seek answers to his agonizing quest for self-actualization, he is continually thrown back by the noise from the hammer. Drifting him away from his positive ponderings to a state which "shatters even nihilism"!
This amazing story stimulates search for the definite significance of noise. Can noise be personified? And, more so, has it to be essentially the loudest for getting heard and noticed? Since the very basic nature of noise is blaring and blowy, it can't but be the loudest. It catches listenership. It catches interest. Even if it rumbles beyond certain meanings and metaphors.
Perhaps, the quintessence of noise is its strangeness. What stillness fails to garner, noise succeeds to gain. What common sense fails to salvage, noise bails out. The loudest the noise, the longer the clout. That's why, noise today has turned more into a psychosomatic phenomenon than an over-simplified coincidence or stratagem where anything rarely goes amiss. Today's noise is calculated and specific. It is no more unacceptable, and it no more possesses an uncontrolled nature. It knows its target and has a unique expertise to tag on. And going by the current media jinks, noise is now a perfect science. From clutter of bytes to bulletins, views to visuals, symbols to slogans, texts to tweets—the noise is thorough. The growling deluge is not just a happenstance. What media scientists call as Information Overload is in effect an avatar of noise!
Relating this discourse with Don DeLillo's White Noise provides an interesting connotation to this entire method. It is a speculative interpretation of 'noise' through a satirical novel that is taking place in the life of a college professor and his dysfunctional family. With messages flowing unrestrained, through tabloids and television sets, White Noise describes fears and insecurities of consumer-world shored up by media proliferation. Perhaps, White Noise is one of the types of noises that are aligned with products, cultures, lifestyles and media marketplaces (also called attention economy).
This goes to say that noise comes in various forms. It roars out from our homes to hyperspaces; from our mindscapes to media houses. The brisk heartbeat to inner voice that creates a 'noise'; the conflict within and without that surges in 'noise'; the imaginary tool that hammers a protagonist to noisy "self-conscious despair"; and the "terrifying data" that is now a noisy industry scaring a college teacher— Noise pervades all around us.
Bottomline: Noise is not simply a datum. Noise is a depiction. Of feelings, ideas, concepts and approaches that have become the hallmark of our times. They land with a thump, kick up the ruckus, and chug away with an agenda. Unlike the Shor of yore (….Bohet Shor Suntay thay Pahlu….), this noise is misleading and subjective. Loudly and brashly. It conjectures up one thing and executes scores of others. Wittingly. The clamor is typical of any political spin that smartly blanches real motives and meanings, and holds the sway. As such, noise has come to stay as an indispensable part of both crafty endorsements and reach of prevailing mantras /notions that govern the world today.