I have just turned music back on. A Manu Katche jazz album I've written about before.. The music is accompaniment to my writing and blots out some of the white noise produced by a network switch in my classroom. That thing's driving me crazy.
The switch have hung in a box on the wall of this classroom since before I took up residence in 2011, but early this year the tech folks replaced an old unit with a new one. The fan on this new one runs constantly and it is loud. I've just measured it at about fifty decibels. That's not technically loud, but is like a window air conditioner run all day long. The noise pulls me away from reading and writing.
I've asked the technology people for a fix, but they say it's not loud. Oh, well, in that case. I pressed them further, saying, it is loud in a classroom where we try to concentrate. They said, nothing we can do about it.
So it goes with technology. I'm to accept it without complaint. Or with complaint. Either way, I am to accept it, but I don't. This is not the way things ought to be.
I'm trying to read Wendell Berry's essay "Faustian Economics" which would be difficult for me in a silent room and is stretching my limits with that network switch running. One quote I've hung onto is this:
Our true religion is a sort of autistic industrialism. People of intelligence and ability seem now to be genuinely embarrassed by any solution to any problem that does not involve high technology, a great expenditure of energy, or a big machine. &endash; The World-Ending Fire, 209.
It is also embarrassing when someone questions the machines, technology, and constant burning of energy. The network switch is necessary for moving internet bits about the school. Live with it and stop complaining.
More and more I'm less interested in living with things that don't seem worth the sacrifices they demand. Music and writing, yes. A lot of technology and noise, no. There are other ways to live and most of the good ones are evident in our history and the traditions we all too often abandon.
I'll return to Wendell Berry now, as best I can with that switch's fan running. It would be bad for me to go up there and unplug it. Terrible in fact. It would be a violation of our true religion. Hmm, come to think of it, that sounds like fun.