A Harper's magazine essay looks at noise as a phenomenon and an indispensable trait of human society. The story reveals that "a poorer life is frequently a noisier one," as " those with lower incomes are more likely to work next to the motor and live next to the airport." It also poses the question, "might some of the noise assailing us be a protest against cultural or economic extinction?" The essay finds that the "story of noise" contains a self-contradiction - that Americans want to have the best of "the worlds of noise and quiet." In the author's words, "we want to practice Zen but mainly in the art of motorcycle maintenance."
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