A recent twitter conversation with two fellow artists/musicians got me thinking. It all started in discussing this NY Times piece on silence, solitude, technology and creativity. It reminded me of an interview I heard on NPR a few years ago with acclaimed director Martin Scorcese.
In the interview Scorcese was talking about media inundation. He said that we live in a world in which we are constantly bombarded with new information. At one point it was normal for the average american to receive 2000-3000 media messages per day including billboards, signs, web banners, radio spots, TV spots, etc.
Think about that: several thousand messages a day.
Scorcese went on to say that because we are so inundated, “we never really feel the full impact of any work of art because we’re incapable of processing that much information.” As remedy he recommended intentional times of silence in order to emotionally recharge and be able to absorb the fuller impact of the art with which we choose to interact.
I took that to heart. At that point I was a serious talk radio addict (hence my NPR listening as well as many others). I was also commuting about an hour to an hour an a half round trip every day. So for that period of time I decided to follow in the words of Depeche Mode and “enjoy the silence.”
Cheesy puns aside, the next several months were some of the most creative I’ve experienced. I’ve always had a notebook and recording device full of half-finished (at best) song ideas. That year I wrote, produced and recorded my first EP. And other areas of creativity flourished as did my ability to emotionally interact with the art I was choosing to consume and I was growing in my ability to better understand that of which I partook.
Since then, I’ve mostly held to the no radio rule I made for myself. I’m not legalistic about it; sometimes I’ll take that time to really digest a new album, or occasionally splurge on some talk radio in political seasons, or sports radio if my teams are doing well. But mostly. I am intentionally silent in the car, and it’s become a welcome respite for me.