The sound of one shoe dropping

John Cage observed that the subjective experience of silence is not a consequence of acoustic conditions, since psychoacoustic silence is impossible under any circumstance: even in the acoustically insulated environment of an anechoic chamber, the circulation of ones blood becomes audible, as is electrical activity within the brain. Silence can be more realistically understood as a psychological state, a surrender of attention and control that allows phenomena (acoustic and otherwise) to follow their own course without impediment. As an urban dweller whose apartment fronts a busy street, I can attest that it is sometimes possible to experience such internal silence in the midst of roiling chaos when consciousness is ecstatically engaged in the moment. But ecstasy is not appropriate in all environments, especially street level in Manhattan, where surrender of attention and control is not advised.