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Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond Hardcover – October 28, 2011
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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Schwartz is a writer's writer, meaning that he is a sublime stylist, can turn a phrase you'll never forget(Darren Tofts, RealTime)
For me, this book is a starting point for a hundred dissertations. Any of the historical vignettes can be excavated further and rendered into more familiar academic arguments. By choosing to let the material largely speak for itself and by letting himself speak so sonorously -- even the acknowledgments are rendered into a form of poem -- Hillel Schwartz has provided the perfect first register for recording a new sonic history.(Trevor Pinch Isis Journal of the History of Science Society)
About the Author
Hillel Schwartz is the author of Making Noise: From Babel to the Big Bang and Beyond.
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Schwartz has phenomenal descriptive and expository powers. His stories about noise, told with the sense of detail of a novelist, engage you, the reader, and his discussions of complex technology are so clear that, reading and understanding them so easily, you feel smart. The book is deep and analytical without putting on airs. It also has enormous scope. For example, Schwartz shows how ideas of what is sound, what is noise, and what is music have differed throughout time and space.
I will never again think of the soundscape as unchanging - and, once having realized the truth of that, I was led to recall how, in my lifetime, I've experienced the new sounds of jet engines, electronic music, whales singing in the ocean . . .
Again, there is an enormous amount of interesting information here, but getting to it through the writing style is painful. I've personally not found it worth the effort. Zone Books are almost always beautiful, brilliant, compelling and readable. The "almost always" in the previous sentence is solely because of this book. (I've not read Schwartz's other Zone book,the Culture of the Copy.)Now it just sets on my shelf, thick as two bricks, reminding me that even the finest publishers can make mistakes.