Chapter 6 Dance With The Devil By Gunther Schwab Written in 1963.
THE NOISE FIEND WAS AN INSIGNIFICANT LITTLE MAN
made up for the deficiencies of his appearance by excessive courtesy.
made a lower bow to the guests than he did to his master.
number is 167," he began, with a gentle, deprecatory air.
can see from this how little importance they attach to me and my job.
the way of it in our business.
more important your job, the lower your number.
the same I hope to be able to prove to you and to my high lord and master, that
my department —"
jaw so much but get cracking," the Devil interrupted.
was obvious that he hadn't very much sympathy for the Noise Fiend.
little fellow gave a sideways glance at the visitors, and made a gesture as
though to say,
there you are, you see.' The Devil drummed on the table.
along, come along. We haven't too much time."
Noise Fiend was the very soul of courtesy.
and gentlemen," he said, "you have either learnt already,
you soon will learn that we know of many ways of poisoning man and his
all that, it is I who add the most essential poison, which multiplies the
all the others, namely, rush."
Boss turned about with a bored expression, crossed his legs and looked out of
spark of life leaps between the two poles of timeless rest and resolute action.
rest there is no strength, without time there is no life."
no liking for these philosophizing devils," muttered the Boss.
warmed to his task. "I have destroyed mankind," he said. "I told
them time is money.
believed me, and since then they sell their life to the highest bidder.
robbed them of time and of their humanity.
planted unrest in their heart.
preached to them – and my subordinates are continually doing the same
that speed is a modern, progressive value, a criterion of the modern
of social worth.
however, speed is something that goes contrary to the nature of man
is really deleterious to him. It prevents him from acquainting himself with the
truth and from fulfilling the most elementary demands of life.
robs him of time for reflection about himself and the world,
time for creative rest and creative work – in a word, of time to be a human
being, of time for life.
have made man speed-sick —"
proofs can you show that you have done it?"
Woomp was obviously in no hurry to give the required explanation.
age," he said, "has its models, its idols, its tyrants.
dominant image of the day impresses itself upon man.
were times when people aped the Romans, in conversation,
talk, in dress and in their general way of life, times when they aped the
French or the Americans.
shows the tendency of man to copy those who at any particular time wield the
see here a subconscious atavistic tendency in human nature towards
we observe is an effort to modify the severity of the ruling power by cultivating
a likeness to it.
of course, this is tantamount to sacrificing our own individuality and assuming
of another, which, in effect, means that we subject ourselves to that
long are you going to go on boring me?" the Devil asked angrily.
coming to the point," said Woomp. "Today the machine is master of the
world of man.
characteristics are noise and rush.
machine, embodying as it does the most essential form of contemporary power,
its character on human life and man endeavours to copy his tyrant
that the latter may show him favour.
must go on working in order to show a profit.
uninterrupted nature of production implies uninterrupted consumption
and here I must express thanks to my colleague in the Department of Living
has helped me very considerably to spread this nerve-destroying rush.
fills men's ears with his Gospel and they hurry to earn all the money they can
as to be able to spend it on things that are actually quite useless."
said the Devil, with intense irritation. "I'm perfectly well aware of all
you get on with it?"
drew a deep breath.
with one thing and another, haste and speed have become ends in themselves.
is busy for nothing and about nothing; he's always in a hurry but he creates
rushes around and yet remains in one place, like a squirrel in a revolving
combined with physical movement wouldn't be too bad, but man makes haste today
moving at all and this restlessness in rest, this motionlessness of the body
hurry in the mind, is my invention, Boss – a devilish invention.
destroys nerves and muscles together; it eats up strength. I'm proud of it. Men
thinking and speaking, their eating and sleeping, at desks and at machines.
their free time, they rush off to pleasure, to the life of shadows,
it never dawns on them that they are losing true life altogether,
they have lost the possession of time.
sit motionless in their cars and race through the land.
travel mania, which only counts miles, drives them all over the earth
an earth which has lost its true character for them, even as they have lost
no longer know what is happening on even a relatively small section of their
are ready to rush in their thousands to distant places.
are they looking for? Rest, recreation, reflection,
deepening of their knowledge and experience?
a bit of it!
travel so as to be able to say they've been to a certain place.
new jet planes travel all round the earth, keeping pace with the sun.
you can get from Munich to New York in six hours."
why shouldn't you?" said Groot.
my opinion this is genuine progress, and a wonderful saving of time."
saving of time ! For what? To give you the opportunity to hurry some more,
do more business and destroy the world more speedily than before,
bring about the ultimate catastrophe at an even earlier date?
is time really being gained?
time rather been shrunk? In the final analysis, since time and life
really interchangeable terms, isn't it life that has been shrunk?
hasn't life actually been lost? Take care, sir, the Devil never gives you
anything for nothing."
has been the means whereby I've devalued human life.
liquidated man's leisure. Man no longer has time for himself, or for friendship
time for his family, no time, even, for his own children.
has no time for art or knowledge, no time for the quiet enjoyment of a book.
I've made of no account all the wisdom of man that lies stored in millions of
the libraries of the world. Nobody cares about it now.
has no time for inward recollection and so can no longer drink from the
his own strength. He no longer knows anything of the creative pause,
rest – the mother of strength – has become a stranger to him.
why man can no longer bring forth a single compelling thought,
a single deed that's truly great. Rush has made him stupid and rush has made
paused fora moment, and it was the Devil who spoke.
know, Woomp," he said, "I think you're doing rather a good job.
believe that I've under-estimated your department,
do let's have something a bit more concrete, will you?"
Woomp had carefully prepared what he had to say and was going to develop
argument in his own way. "Just as we an't think of the movement of a
a noise, so rush is the source of noise in the world of man.
have the same effects.
as I destroyed leisure,
I also murdered silence and silence is the origin of all good things.
given inan the intoxicating poison of noise and man has swallowed it 311d
developed the craving.
destroys the mind; it paralyses thought, and is the enemy of truth.
dries up the heart and empties the brain. Noise means the emptying of
Boss was angry again. "Theories, theories ! " he cried.
Woomp was obstinate, and went on: "And even noise is infectious.
more noise a man makes, the more noise others must make in order to hear themselves
and so preserve their so-called egos. Anyone who has become a noise drunkard
no longer live without it. Noise drowns strength, goodness and love."
do let's have something concrete !
at the television screen."
living brain, powerfully magnified. It belongs to one, Antonio Feschi, a
greengrocer in Rome,
Dante Aligheri 36. The patient is lying on the operating table, a part of his
skull has been removed,
hand which you see reaching into the picture from the side is that of Dr.
chief surgeon of the Clinic—"
tumour?" asked Rolande. She was bending forward, eager h) see every
tumour ! Watch what happens now."
this moment there was heard the sound of a church bell striking in one of the
churches of Rome.
a wave of blood flooded the brain; it happened again and yet again.
times the bell in the belfry sounded, and six times the brain was flooded,
the rhythm of the bell.
clock had stopped striking, the waves of blood had ceased to flow.
the wave of blood returned, though rather weaker than before.
was that?" asked Harding.
Mosso cleared his throat. Signor Feschi's brain reacted immediately,
though he was under an anaesthetic." Woomp switched off.
did you show us that?" asked the Boss.
prove that every sound produces a change in the rhythm of the blood
only in this particular case?" said Groot.
You've seen how the brain reacts to single noises,
you can now well imagine how it reacts to permanent noise,
to increases of noise beyond a certain point."
raised his eyebrows as though to show how little he was impressed.
belongs to civilization, as a shadow is a part of light. People must get used
no such thing as getting used to it.
third inhabitant of a civilized country suffers from noise-sickness,
he doesn't know it."
gave a superior smile.
may be true of oversensitive people, or people who are already half-invalids.
get along very well with noise. Without the music of a great city I can't work
or even go to sleep.
I go into the country, the silence irritates me."
it was Woomp's turn to smile. "If a drug addict said that the poison of
the drugs did him no harm,
he couldn't do without it, would you be prepared to admit that the addict
wasn't an addict
the poison wasn't a poison?"
a man doesn't hear a noise, then that noise can do him no harm."
agents have instructions to spread this utterly mistaken view among men,
that they may make even more noise than they're making already and may,
fact, devote themselves wholly to noise.
think they've got used to noise, but they are ignorant of the hidden harm that
it is doing them."
Boss turned to Woomp. "What actual pathological symptoms should be
the effects of noise?"
of numbness, nervous excitability, impaired sense of balance,
and heart diseases, anaemia, hyperanaemia of the skin, of the brain,
stomach ulcers, and disturbances of the digestive tract."
was unconvinced. "What influence," he said, "can noise possibly
have on the digestion?"
has been definitely proved that under the influence of noise the activity of
the stomach walls
diminished, as is the peristaltic action of the bowels."
on," said the Devil.
of sound pass through the ears and through the bones of the skull to the outer
produce headaches, over-sensitivity, sleeplessness and conditions of fear,
and primarily dullness, with complete lack of interest in anything."
Boss nodded; he was obviously well pleased. "A condition of the human
of great value to us for the attainment of our ends."
turned to Woomp. "The symptoms you have mentioned are very similar
those of what we call the 'Manager Disease'."
answered the Devil, "and a number of my Department Heads have been
bringing this disease into existence and spreading it far and wide."
Woomp, who was in full flood, was not to be diverted.
he said, "is one of the most terrible and torturing punishments to which
have condemned mankind. It excites a physical and mental state of alarm which
maintains itself even in sleep. The final consequences of persistent noise area
the power of resistance, complete unfitness for work and a lowering of
useful in my battle against the mind," said the Devil.
can the political and sociological importance of noise be underestimated.
destroys individuality. It extinguishes human personality.
helps in the development of the mass mind, of collective thinking, of
who needs slaves must make noise in music. Music like my own."
Devil nodded. "I like your music very well, Woomp."
me, I've worked at my job. To give you just one little instance,
was I who invented the unceasing racket of our many-storeyed living machines
I cannot praise too highly the architectural incompetence and lust for profit
has resulted in these sound-transmitting walls and floors.
I've done my best to intensify traffic so that the hellish symphony of street
grow louder with every year. In ten years this volume of noise has doubled,
increasing damage to health. The unbroken surfaces of modem buildings make
into excellent sounding boards, especially when – thanks to our architects
they are made of cement and glass."
about thunder?" asked Harding, "that's a noise that nature makes
nodded. "Admittedly, but thunder is a short sound. It's the lasting noises
similar intensity that go beyond the endurable limit.
strong noise can kill.
the noise of aircraft. It can upset the nerves of cattle,
premature births and a reduction in the milk supply.
every hope that through increasing air traffic,
will be possible to make the hell of modern noise even more agonizing than it
is at present."
Devil smiled. "It seems to me he's a stout fellow, this Woomp. I'll have
to promote him."
continued. "I have made men deaf to noise.
human nature still shows its capacity for protecting the organisms.
to hearing has fallen by 15 per cent in the towns and by 5 per cent in the
count that as protection?" interjected Rolande. "As a positive gain?
could only look upon growing deafness as a disability —“'
a world governed by diabolical principles, concepts change their meaning,
hearing gets worse, and so you think you can make all the more noise.
why you think nothing of subjecting man to the terror of building noise,
noise and factory noise and look upon anyone who objects to this as a fool.
natural enough. Noise is the characteristic mark of barbarism and stupidity,
if the noise of modern life is indeed a valid measuring rod, both are on the
noise makes people stupid and brutal, those who make a noise never realize
they're not only doing physical damage to their fellow men, but are actually
they deprive them of the peaceful possession of their property."
one consequence of noise that's particularly serious. It upsets the
is usually a town resident, and that's why I've gone out of my way to make the
noisy places, places where men's spiritual, mental and physical health
bound to be undermined. Since the towns claim the right to make all the
really matter, (here's no doubt that it is to the hellish noise of these places
we can attribute the blunders and stupidities of politics and administration
that matter, of art and science."
sounds a bit exaggerated. I'm quite satisfied, but that doesn't mean
you must get above yourself."
pretended he had not heard what had been said, and went on.
that I've neglected the country; I've killed silence there, quite effectively.
country needs rest if it is to remain alive since unnatural noises defile a
done all I could to maximize that defilement. Wherever you get a village in a
would hear the echo of the traffic right up to the surrounding mountains;
right up to their peak. Tractors, cars, omnibuses, have drowned the peace of
wherever you go. There's hardly a forest which is not made vile by the
of engines. Our forest roads should be open to motor traffic for the benefit
the tourist industry.
result is that against the payment of a toll this traffic can now pass along
numbers of roads
had been closed to it."
immediate effect," said Sten, "will be an increase of business for
the tourist industry
soon those who are seeking a real holiday and are ready to get along without a
migrate to those parts of the country that are still quiet and unspoiled."
worry! I'll spoil them quickly enough," said Woomp.
I've already largely done so.
even liquidated the traditional nocturnal quiet of the sleeping earth.
the evening, when the tractor-driver wearily steps from his machine,
relief is already at hand.
switches on the searchlight and goes on with his ploughing or whatever he's
doing till half-way
the night, or even until dawn.
earth no longer sleeps.”
man with a tractor," he said, "gets as much done as ten men with ten
pairs of horses.
absolutely obvious and absolutely inevitable that the farmer will sooner or
with machines. It's ridiculous to reproach him with this, let alone to forbid
him to do it."
course it is, Mr. Groot," said the Boss, "and we're only too anxious
to encourage him.
it's the mark of the devil all over the world that what he tries to get people
do is always self-evidently right and necessary, natural, logical, unavoidable
why all this fuss about a bit of noise in the countryside?"
Groot. As usual, his manner was overbearing.
all, who hears it?"
Devil answered him. "I understand why you should ask that.
an engineer, a technician, and so nature and the land seem unimportant to you.
man and the land are one. Remember that. If the soul of the land dies,
soul of man dies along with it."
it is with the death of the soul that we are concerned," Woomp broke in.
have bathed it in noise, and in noise it forgets how to breathe.
violates it, destroying feeling and conscience. Noise is my form of hypnosis,
which no man can escape. I have enslaved man. I have interfered with the rhythm
is native to him. I have broken up the very essence of his being.
have used the uproar of the outer world, to cut him off from the world within,
cut him off from his humanity and from the only life that is real."
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