PERSPECTIVE: ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Paul Simon

My Old Friend

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.

Unsurety is what separates us from the beasts, or so I read somewhere. Having the knowledge that our knowledge is finite is what makes us human, our individual experiences and learnings defining our individuality. The sole fundamental human desire is fulfilment (in some fashion or another), but true fulfilment, real fulfilment is something no individual may achieve. And any vision is never real, only one piece of a puzzle with no edge.

In restless dreams I walked alone;
Narrow streets of cobblestone,
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence.

Life is lonely, life is chaos, life is an endless attack on the senses. A family, a friend, a lover, a partner; these things may shield from the chaos, may bring stability for a moment or two. But these things may bring a chaos of their own. Unsurety, individuality, the things that make us what we are can only ever end in chaos.

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more:
People talking without speaking,
People hearing without listening,
People writing songs that voices never share,
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.

Have you ever spoken? Have you ever written? Have you ever been the voice that falls on an audience of empty seats? This is not an artist’s struggle, it is a human struggle.

Have you ever listened? Have you ever read? Have you ever been the eyes that find the lost words? This is not an artist’s struggle, it is a human struggle.

“Fools” said I,
“You do not know, silence, like a cancer, grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you.
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence.

Having knowledge has never been a guarantee of sharing wisdom. I have never read The Bible or The Lord of the Rings, have never listened to Bruce Springsteen or The Rolling Stones. But I have read The Last Summer of Reason and WAR, have heard Gabrielle Aplin and Sam RB. There is wisdom, I think, to be found here too. Or I hope so at any rate, for if not, then I am one of those fools who did not heed the word of wisdom.

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made.
And the sign flashed out its warning
In the words that it was forming.
And the signs said, “The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whispered in the sounds of silence.”

I listen for silence, but it is hard to hear. Forever, there is a barrage of noise, an attack on the senses. And as the world gets louder, the sounds of silence become fewer and farther between. It is my struggle. It is your struggle. And together, we are left confused and hoping and reaching for one another. Unsurety is what separates us from the beasts, or so I read.

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