Noise abatement: capitalism and convenience

Perhaps this is nothing new, but noise abatement (both actually existing policies and its further advocacy) are intimately tied to capitalism and convenience.

This is not necessarily to say that those that are advocates of noise abatement are concerned only with capitalism and/or convenience but rather that that is what allows such policies to go forward.

Who passes noise abatement legislation? Who does it harm? Who does it benefit?

The passage of noise abatement campaigns seems to most fully benefit those who keep a consistent 9-5 schedule (when, after all, are ‘quiet hours’) and thus enabling their full participation in capitalist exploitation/alienation. They can hardly give their all if they were kept from their socially mandated 8 hours! The laws often inhibit those who keep to different schedules, who are beholden to different masters (all the shit I have gotten for playing bass during the day because a neighbor didn’t appreciate it…). Those who work a graveyard shift are hardly helped by construction crews who don’t start jack hammering until 9am.

This claim might be contradicted by those who advocate for noise abatement. After all, the worst offenders are hardly boom cars and boom boxes but indifferent corporations and industrial practices. But again, this isn’t to say that the advocates are pro-capitalism (though would many say that they are anti-capitalism?) but rather that the policies that pass, that are enforced are those that serve capitalism and the convenience of the alienated worker who just wants to relax off shift because they lack the time and energy for much else.

Silencing the Machine (as opposed to machines as such) is likely not to be accomplished through straightforward political campaigns for quieter streets and restricted hours for noisy activities. So what, then, the alternative? Perhaps to use noise against the noisy? Perhaps.

Noise is a maxim that cannot be universalized.



Disruption for disruption’s sake? Could a politics truly be borne of this? It would seem that such a politics would be anarchy in the pejorative rather than political/philosophical sense. Childish even. What can a noise politics be then? Is it a move that must be restricted? Only certain individuals and groups can perform noise? But how is that different from any other power dynamic? Surely that is just disruptive in the sense of the capitalist/silicone valley buzzword bandwagoning. But what is a politics that cannot be universalized? It skirts Bateman’s Chaos Ethics, but does adhere to them? Is there a noise ethic? An ethics that denies/defies signal, sense, stability? What would such an ethics be? Or such a politics? Is it possible for a politics to be continually shifting? Would that allow for its nonuniversalizability? The fact that the vast majority do not have the time, energy, or initiative to maintain such a complicated, multifaceted politics? Would there be justification in that? Those who have the time and inclination towards noise may perform it? But that does not guarantee progressive moves. There can be regressive noise, fascist noise (Hitler’s damn loud speakers). Is that a risk worth taking? Understanding that disruption is neutral and not to be taken for granted? Perhaps.



Noise has no past: hypocritical noise theory

Noise has no past.

This is not to say that the past wasn’t noisy or that things have not been called noise throughout history. Certainly, that remains the case. But noise remains in a perpetual present.

What is noise, what is regarded as noise, what is found to be noisy shifts with culture, location, time, &c. This isn’t to make the claim that noise is wholly contextual or based solely on perspective. There are definitions of noise, views of noise, understandings of noise that are far more fixed (notably the scientific ones). But many, if not all, of the cultural approaches to noise, the (hypo)critical understandings of noise are fluid, transitory, and without a past. Rock ‘n roll was noisy. Punk was noisy. Dodecaphony was noisy. But it would be a stretch to call any of those noisy now. This is hardly new. Attali made this point decades ago.

But that noise is a bleeding edge (or as Hegarty notes always fails at being noise) is a space that can be more fully explored.

Noise has no memory.

No past means no memory. But what does it mean that noise has no memory? What does it imply? What is carried along which such a claim (accusation?)? What does it even mean to have no memory? To have no concept of the before, of the previously disrupted, of the signals pulled from the static? What can be done with such a concept? Can there be a politics without memory?


sonic / filmic / liminal

these are not good work.

or, I am not in a position to judge them as such.

but they serve a purpose. They exist to make a point, or attempt one. I like them well enough.

I am not particularly inclined towards image work. This has long been a disappointment for me. I haven’t taken to cameras, though I have owned a few. I am terrible with figures (both photographic and pictographic). My pacing seems wrong. But I like what I do with sound.

Sound by itself, especially that which I am calling my post-noise work (post-noise in the sense of post-rock. it comes after and is informed by foundational noise artists but is not of the same tradition, cannot approach noise in the same manner), likely creates interesting visual imagery in the mind’s eye. It is likely not what is herein paired.

And it is that pairing, that forced juxtaposition that is meant to be focused upon here. Images out of focus, repeated, permuted, stalled that are forced into conversation with sonic elements that drift, that also permute but differently, that do not align. What is the reason? Why these images? Why these sounds? What does it all mean?

I make noise to be liminal. To test boundaries, to recognize and trace boundaries. To raise questions that cannot yet be answered. The abyss is calling. We lack perspective. One must enter the vortex, knowledge (even knowledge through madness) is necessary for life. These videos seek one such liminal zone, one such barrier island, one such no man’s land. Do they find it? Do any of us?


music courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society

film courtesy of Delta Brainwave Society