The World of Silence

The Noise of Words

   Today words no longer arise out of silence, through
a creative act of the spirit which gives meaning to
language and to the silence, but from other words, from
the noise of other words. Neither do they return to the
silence but into the noise of other words, to become
immersed therein.
   Language has lost its spiritual quality; all that remains
is its purely acoustic quality. This is the transformation
of the spirit into the material, the transformation of the
word that is spirit into the material of noise.
   The noise of words is the loud emptiness that covers
the soundless emptiness. The real word, on the other
hand, is the loud fullness over the still surface of

   There is a difference between ordinary noise and the
noise of words. Noise is the enemy of silence; it is opposed
to silence. The noise of words is not merely opposed to
silence: it makes us even forget that there was ever any
such thing as silence at all. It is not even an acoustical
phenomenon: the acoustic element, the continual buzzing
of verbal noise, is merely a sign that all space and all time
have been filled by it. 
   Ordinary noise, on the other hand, is limited, closely
related to a definite object, a notification of that object.
The noise of a festive gathering or of peasant music is
edged around with a silence which gives intensity and
prominence to the noise. The silence is as it were station-
ed on the frontiers of the noise, waiting for the time when
it can appear again. But only emptiness and nothingness
are stationed on the frontiers of verbal noise.

   Words no longer arise from silence today but from
other words, from the noise of other words. The word
that arises from silence, on the other hand, moves from
the silence into the word and then back again into the
silence, out of the silence to the new word and back again
into the silence and so on, so that the word always comes
from the center of silence. The flow of the sentence is
continually interrupting the horizontal flow of
the sentence.
   Mere verbal noise, on the other hand, moves uninter-
ruptedly along the horizontal line of the sentence. The
only important thing seems to be that the noise should go
on without interruption, not that it should mean anything.

          Cityful passing away, other cityful coming, passing
          away too: other coming on, passing on. Houses, lines
          of houses, streets, miles of pavements, piled up bricks,
          stones. Changing hands. This owner, that. Landlord
          never dies they say. Other steps into his shoes when he
          gets notice to quit. They buy the place up with gold and
          still they have all the gold. Swindle in it somewhere.
          Piled up in cities, worn away age after age. Pyramids in
          sand. Built on bread and onions. Slaves. Chinese wall.
          Babylon. Big stones left. Round towers. Rest rubble,
          sprawling suburbs, jerrybuilt, Kerwan's mushroom
          houses, built of breeze. Shelter for the night.
              No one is anything.
          This is the very worst hour of the day. Vitality. Dull,
          gloomy: hate this hour. Feel as if I had been eaten and
          spewed. (James Joyce)

   That is an example of the language of verbal noise.
   In this so-called language subject, predicate, object,
and adverbs are all mixed up together. The sentence
becomes an almost amorphous mass of sound, out of
which a single sound occasionally booms forth more
prominently than the others. Such words are mere inti-
mations, mere notifications of something: they do not go
so far as to mean anything. (One can say that meanings
are conveyed even by verbal noise. That is quite right.
But the meaning conveyed is a merely material statement
of fact; a true meaning is possible only when the word
refers, draws attention to the infinity, of the thing described
[Husserl]. This quality of infinity, which can never be
completely expressed or exhausted by words, is present
in silence. In verbal noise, therefore, it is true that
material meanings are conveyed, but the medium in
which the meaning appears—the medium of the verbal
noise—is hostile to the very nature of meaning; it out-
weighs and swallows up the meaning.)
   Language has become a mere mechanical vehicle
transporting the outward signs of language.
   Language has ceased to be organic and plastic, ceased
to establish things firmly. Words have become merely
signs that something is being fetched out of the jumble
of noise and thrown at the listener. The word is not
specifically a word. It can now be replaced by signs—
color signs or sound signs; it has become an apparatus,
and like every mere apparatus it is always facing the
possibility of destruction. And therefore the man who
does not live directly from the word, but allows himself
to be dragged along by the apparatus of noise, also faces
destruction at any moment.
   These verbal noises do not seem to be spoken by men
at all: they are verbal ghosts coming from the world of
dead words, talking amongst themselves, one dead word
with another, and happy if two or three happened
to form themselves into a consecutive sentence, just as
ghosts are happy when they meet each other in a ghostly

          The destruction of life consists in turning it into an
          enemy. Life is immortal and when killed it seems like
          the awful ghost of itself. (Hegel)

   The destruction of the word consists in turning it into
the enemy, but not an enemy that confronts but one that
penetrates and permeates us like a ghost.
   Contrast a sentence from the world of real words, a
sentence from J.P. Hebel:

          It is curious that a man who seems to be without much
          substance can impart wisdom to another who regards
          himself as exceptionally wise and understanding.

   In this sentence each part is exact in itself, conscious
of its value, standing on its own, yet all the words are
related to something higher. "It is curious": these words
create the space for an event. It is as though they were
drawing a cord round a room so that something definite
can happen therein. And with the last word "curious"
it is as if one could see a board announcing that something
remarkable was about to take place here. "That some-
times a man": a man appears in this marked-off space,
hesitantly: "sometimes" is the sign that he is hesitating.
"Who seems to be without much substance": the man
seems small in this big space. One waits to see what is
going to happen to him, and it happens: "that he can
impart wisdom to another". And all at once the hesitant
little man seems big and the man who "regards himself
as exceptionally wise and understanding" becomes small.
It is as though the "exceptional wisdom and under-
standing" were taken from him like so much baggage
that does not belong to him.
   Every word in this sentence of Hebel shows that the
sentence is firmly established. This word is so secure
and the words in it so secure, that the word needs only 
a little sentence like that to make known that it exists. A
whole world and all the words of this world stand close
to this sentence.

   The verbal noise by which the real word is replaced
today does not arise from a definite act, like the word. It
is not actively begotten, but produced by proliferation—
that is to say: one noise divides to produce another noise.
The real word is created in the qualitative, verbal noise
in the quantitative sphere.
   Verbal noise seems in fact never to have been specific-
ally created. It seems to always have been there. There
does not seem to be any space left where there could
possibly ever have been anything but noise. It has infil-
trated into everything. We take it for granted much as
we take the air itself for granted. Everything begins and
ends with noise. It does not seem to depend for its exist-
ence on man at all: it seems to be something objective
outside him. The noise of words is not spoken by man at
all: it is simply spoken all around him. It penetrates him,
fills him up to the very brim, and the noise is what over-
flows through the edge of his mouth.
   Nobody listens to him as he speaks, for listening is only
possible when there is silence in man: listening and
silence belong together. Instead of truly speaking to
others today we are all waiting merely to unload on to
others the words that have collected inside us. Speech
has become a purely animal, excretive function.
   Verbal noise is neither silence nor sound. It permeates
silence and sound alike and it causes man to forget both
silence and the world.
   There has ceased to be any difference between speech
and silence, since one single noise of words permeates
both the speaker and the non-speaker. The silent listener
has simply become a non-speaker.
   Verbal noise is a pseudo-language and a pseudo-silence.
That is to say, something is spoken and yet it is not real
language at all. Something disappears in the noise and
yet it is not real silence. When the noise suddenly stops,
it is not followed by silence, but merely a pause in which
the noise accumulates in order to expand with even
greater force when it is released.
   It is as though the noise were afraid that it might dis-
appear, as if it were constantly on the move, because it
must always be convincing itself that it really exists. It
does not believe in its own existence.
   The real word, on the contrary, has no such fear, even
when it is not being expressed in sound: its existence is in
fact even more palpable in the silence.

   Man, however, who has become a mere appendage of
verbal noise, believes decreasingly in the reality of his own
existence. He looks at himself in the thousands of pictures
on the screen and in the illustrated papers, as if he were
trying to make sure that man still exists, still looks like man.
   Man is so unreal today that in a room in front of great
mirrors people do not look real but as if they had come
out of the reflections in the mirror, sent out for a holiday.
And when the lights are switched off they seem to fall
back into the mirror and disappear in its darkness.
   But where silence is still an active force, man is con-
stantly re-created by the word that comes out of the
silence, and constantly disappearing in the silence before
God. His existence is a continuous creation in the word
through God and a disappearing in the silence before God.
   Today his existence is merely a continuous emerging
from the noise of words and a continuous disappearing

   Language is so conditioned by its origin in the Logos,
which is order, that it does not admit into the human
world much that lies outside the human order. Language
is a protection for man. Many demonic things are waiting
to invade man and to destroy him, but man is protected
from contact with the demonic; indeed he is unable even
to notice it because it does not enter into language: the
word defends man from the invasion of the demonic.
But only if man preserved the word in its true nature is it
able to maintain its power against evil. The noise of
words which is the modern substitute for language is
perforated and therefore open to penetration by the
powers of the demonic.
   Everything can steal into the noise of words; everything
can get mixed up in it, even the demonic. In fact the
noise is itself a part of the demonic.
   In the noise everything is propagated in all directions.
Antisemitism, class warfare, national socialism, bolshev-
ism, literature—everything spreads itself out in all direc-
tions. Everything has arrived everywhere before man
comes on the scene at all. Everything is there waiting for
him. All limits and frontiers become blurred, all standards
are destroyed. The real word sets up frontiers. The
noise of words leaps over the frontiers, ignores them
   In this world of verbal noise a war easily becomes
"total" because war can easily take over everything for
its own ends. Everything is already mixed up with war
before its seizes hold of everything.
  In this verbal noise everything can be said and every-
thing abolished and annulled. It is in fact annulled even
before it is said. The most stupid and the most intelligent
things can be said only to be leveled out, for the main
thing is the general sound of noise, not what produces
the noise. Whether it is produced by good or by evil is of
no account. This is the mechanism of irresponsibility at
   In this world of verbal noise, in which one thing passes
into another, where everything is in everything else, there
are no frontiers outside and no frontiers inside man.
Everyone has access to everything, everyone understands
everything. And it cannot simply happen that someone
(like Goethe) cannot understand Hölderlin, or someone
(like Jacob Burkhardt) deliberately keeps away from
Rembrandt (where there is a real person, there is a frontier
in the person: that is the very essence and nature of true
persons). But here in the noise of words no one is ex-
cluded from having Goethe and Hölderlin and Rembrandt
and Jacob Burkhardt: everything is accessible to everyone.

   Everything therefore is carried along in the noise, and
any and everything can develop out of it. Nothing arises
any longer through a specific act, through a decision and
through the creative. Everything turns up automatically:
through a kind of mimicry the noise produces what is
required by the circumstances of the moment, and this
is conveyed to man.
   For example, if the surrounding world is Nazi, then
Nazi ideas are conveyed by the noise, and this takes place
without man's having decided for Nazidom by a special act
of his own conscience. Man is so much a part of the verbal
noise going on all around him that he does not notice what
is being conveyed to him.
   When a new situation appears, then the noise stops
conveying Nazi ideas to him—or rather when it has be-
come bored with the prevailing idea it changes its note
just for the sake of a change. The attitude of man is
dependent on the movement of the noise, no longer on
his own will. Man no longer lives with and through the
word. The word is no longer the place where man
decides for truth or for love: the noise itself makes the
decision for him. The noise is the main thing: man is
only the place occupied by the noise, the space for the
noise to fill.
   The noise is also no longer a deposit of the action: it is al-
ready part of the action and that is what makes it dangerous.
   The real word, on the other hand, comes from the
Logos. It is maintained by the continuity and the discipline
of the Logos,and is checked in its movement by its relation
with the Logos, which takes it into the depths and away
from the horizontal rush of mere noise. The action man
undertakes does not therefore arise directly from the word
but comes from a greater depth, from the place where
the word arose from the Logos. Therefore the action is
not fastened to the word, but at a still deeper level, to the 
Logos. And therefore such an action is protected from
the perils of unrestrained license.
   In the general verbal noise of today, actions have no
foothold, no frontiers, no control, because they are not
kept within proper bounds by the word. They are in fact
covered by the noise all around them. They disappear
therein and real actions have ceased to exist.
  This therefore is the world that moves automatically
with noise and action. It seems like a world of magic, for
everything takes place in it without human decision, of
its own accord. And precisely this appearance of magic is
what seduces man.

   In the world of verbal noise, individual events lack a
specific character of their own, a character that gives them
a special face, just as each individual person has been 
given a special face.
   In the world of verbal noise, events are no longer
distinct from each other: the noise makes them all the
same. That is why events today take on such big dimen-
sions; that is why they shout and shriek at us. It is as if
one event were trying to separate itself from all the others
by making as much noise as possible, since it can no longer
do so naturally.
  A recent book deals with "The Year 1848 in Europe",
a compilation of the events, day by day, of the whole year.
Many things happened in 1848. Whole nations rose in
revolt; kings fell; the workers were more dissatisfied than
ever; the rich resisted their claims more than ever; new
great powers—Italy and Germany—began to shape un-
easily; wars began or seemed to be threatening; no day
passed without some exciting news; the whole earth was
full of new events—and one might perhaps think that this
superabundance of events was of the same kind as the
jumble of events today. But it would be quite wrong to
think so.
   Every event that occurred in 1848 was clearly distinct
from every other event, unmistakably itself, not inter-
changeable with any other event, having its own physiog-
nomy and its own particular and unique effect. And above
all, a special act was necessary in order that it might exist
at all, and it did really exist, absolutely, uniquely, and
specifically. It was valid in its own right and not merely
because of the excitement all around it. The medium in
which it existed was first created by the event itself.
   It is the other way around today. First comes the
medium—namely, the verbal noise; that is the important
thing. It attracts the event, that is to say, it forms out of
itself something into something that looks like an event.
But the event is not a specific phenomenon: it is merely a
condensation, a concentration of the noise, no more than
that. And that is why all events are similar, and also why
they arouse so little interest. People do not bother about
politics today because they are bored by events. Events
are easily forgotten, and man does not even need to forget
them himself: the noise does it for him.
   If events were not dissolved in the noise, if they were
still real, then it would be impossible for them to follow
each other so quickly. For a real event needs a certain
measure of time; there is a definite relationship between
the reality of an event and its duration. A real event needs to
acquire its own duration from the duration of time. When
an event no longer endures in time, but only emerges for a
moment and then disappears again, it becomes a phantom.
   Until about 1920 there was still a reality in events and
institutions: that is to say, the verbal noise still moved
around something, some clearly distinguishable thing.
This movement of the noise round a thing was already
becoming stereotyped, but it was still possible to recognize
the type of literature around which the noise made its din,
namely, expressionism, and this expressionism still
seemed more important than the noise all around it. It
was still possible to distinguish the idea of "social relief";
although the noise of words was churning all around it
and covering it, it was even still possible to see political
principles more clearly than the noise of words around them.
   That is all completely changed today. It is no longer
the object that makes the noise around it, as in former
times, but the noise is now primary, it seeks out an object.
It and the object are no longer clearly distinguishable.
Routine and object have become immersed in one single
noise. It is true that people still talk about this or that
particular literary or political object today, but they are
only signposts within the noise, merely the places where
the objects are taken up into the general noise and where
man follows after them, in order to disappear with them
in the noise.

   The noise of words levels everything down, makes
everything the same: it is a leveling machine. Individ-
uality is a thing of the past. Everyone is merely a part of
the noise. Nothing belongs to the individual any longer.
Everything has been as it were poured into the general
noise. Everyone is entitled to everything because nothing
belongs to anyone in particular. The masses have acquired
a status of their own. They are the complement of the noise
and, like the noise, they are and yet are not, emerging and
disappearing, filling everything and yet nowhere tangible.

   The noise of words is so far-ranging, so immense and
incalculable, that it is impossible either to see where it
begins and ends on for man to see where he himself begins
and ends. The noise is like a swarm of insects: all one sees
is a hazy cloud, a cloud of insects giving out a buzz that
covers and equalizes everything.
   Man waits for something to come and tear this vague
noise apart by a sharp, piercing sound. He is tired of the
monotone of the buzzing; and the unformed, vaguely
agitated noise seems to be waiting, too, for something to
fall into it and divide it up.
   The shout of the dictator is what the noise is waiting
for. The clear, piercing voice of the dictator and the
universal noise correspond to each other. One produces
the other, one is impossible without the other.
   What the dictator says is quite unimportant: what
matters is the loudness and clearness of what he says.
Man now has a landmark from which he gathers that he
exists. Previously he was merely a part of the vague noise of
words, but now he is a part of a clear, mechanized language.
   The mechanized language of the dictator is so much
merely a shouting without any real content that when a
dictator invades a country, it is as though the essential
thing was not the expansion of the frontiers of the invad-
ing country but the expansion of the shouting. The aim 
is to shout down, to destroy by shouting the silence out
of the foreign country, to destroy its silent reality, to
throw the noise of shouting where the silence was before.
   The mechanized language of the dictator is a part of the
general verbal noise, but the exaggerated coarseness, the
brutal aggressiveness, and the war of invasion correspond
to it as well. The noise is so unformed that it is always
waiting for something clearly formed to fall into. The
man who has become lost in the noise is as it were saved
by the firm structure of war, even by the firm structure of
a brutal action. That is why it is so easy to make war and
to commit brutalities in the world of noise. War and
bombs are absorbed by the vacuum of this world of noise.
   As in the beginning of time, words precede actions
almost inaudibly (man tones down words because he sees
that words produce actions as if by magic), so, at the end
of time, actions occur once again almost without accom-
panying words, but now because the word has lost the
power of creativity: it has been destroyed.  

   Just as the word no longer arises by a special act of
creation, but exists all the time as a continual noise, so
human actions no longer happen as a result of special
decision, but as a part of a continuous process. The process
is now the primary, man is a mere appendage of the 
process. This "labor process" is so secure that it does
not seem to depend on man at all: it seems to be a kind of
natural phenomenon, almost independent of man alto-
gether. And this never-ending process that is somehow
outside man's control, corresponds absolutely to the
never-ending process of noise. This labor process pene-
trates everything so much that it seems to continue
inaudibly even in the intervals of work.
   The point is not the purpose of the labor process, but
the fact that it never stops. Just as the word is ground
down in the general noise, so the creative energy of man is
stamped out in this labor process. There is no human
purpose left in this never-ending labor process. A new
kind of being has arisen here, a pure being without pur-
pose, which is taken for granted only because of its appar-
ent continuity. It is taken so much for granted that it is
not discussed at all. And that is the great power of the
labor process: that it has established itself outside the
sphere of discussion.
   Nothing much is gained by adding improvements to it.
The whole labor process today is a falsification, and
therefore not to be improved by alterations. On the con-
tray, such alterations give the impression that the whole
process is real and improvable, and they therefore give it a
false legitimacy.

   Even more than the labor process, the machine is the
embodiment of the never-ending, sterile uniformity of
the world of verbal noise.
   The machine is noise turned into iron and steel. And
just as the noise never dares to stop—as if it were afraid
that it might disappear if it were not always to be occupying
the whole of space, so there is a like fear in the machine
that it might be made to vanish like a ghost if it were not
always convincing itself of its own existence by being in
constant motion.
   Today man no longer believes in an enduring life after
death, but as a substitute he lays claim to some kind of
vague continuity that seems to be guaranteed by the
never-ending process of noise, labor, and technics. In
the machine constantly in motion, there is a kind of
pseudo-eternity. It is as though man himself would
cease to be manifest if the machine stopped moving. In a
world in which there is no other kind of eternity, there is
at least the continuous, never-ending movement of the
   In a factory it is as though silence was being poured
into the empty spaces between the iron bars and manu-
factured into noise. It is as though the great machines
were intending to grind down all the silence of earth—in
fact, as though they had already ground it down and were
now engaged merely on the last motions of digestion.
The machines stand there in triumph, as if they were now
considering a new campaign of destruction after the com-
pletion of the destruction of silence.
   The machine at rest fills up the space in which it stands
even more than when it is in motion. Everything belongs
to it now. The very air and the stillness seem hard with
   The stillness that exists when machines stop working is
no silence but an emptiness. Therefore there is an empti-
ness in the worker's life after the day's work in the factory.
The emptiness of the machine follows him home. That
is the true cause of his suffering, the real oppression. The
peasant, on the other hand, continues to live in the silence
in which he has worked, after his work is over. The
workman is mute, the peasant silent.
  People have spoken of "the world of the working class",
the "world of the machine". But the machine that thrusts
the worker into the emptiness in which it is itself, is no
world, but the end of a world, and the end of a world is
quite unable to fill a man with happiness, but only with
sadness and despair. That is why the worker can never
be content with the machine as a source of happiness.
   Man can never be helped by the machine, because it
removes him from that realm of time which is a moment
of eternity. The continuously moving machine makes a
mechanized duration of time, in which there is no autono-
mous moment, no "atoms of eternity". This mechanized 
duration has no relationship of any kind to time: it does
not fill time but space. Time seems to be stuck fast and
transformed into space.
   Thus man is separated from time. That is why he is so
lonely when faced with the machine, which makes him
merely a creature of space. And instead of time moving,
only space seems to be moving with the motions of the
machine. Thus man lives only in space, as in a shaft
without end digging its way ever deeper through the 

  In this world of the machine, the word of the poet can
never be born, for the word of the poet comes from silence,
not from noise. All the machine-poetry of today seems to
have been punched out of metal by the machine itself.
  And the god who is possible in this machine world is a
god manufactured by the machine itself: in the truest
sense of the word the deus ex machina.

   In this world of noise the important thing for man is not
reality but possibility. Possibilities are not something
firmly established and clearly seen, but move from one
vagueness to another. They have no beginning and no
end. They are not unambiguous but rather like a vague
buzzing. Just as the word and true reality belong to each
other, so noise and possibility belong together.

   The world of noise is also the world of experiment. An
experiment is by its very nature not completed, not
clearly defined. It does not arise by reason of a definite
act, independent of other acts. It is not like an autonomous
phenomenon but or like the continuation of other
experiments, a variation of them, just as one verbal noise
is merely the continuation of other noises. Therefore
experiments never stop: they go on automatically. And
man becomes merely the laboratory assistant, who is
permitted to write down whatever they choose to com-
municate to him.

   The way in which things are bound together today by
the law of cause and effect in such a manner that things
are only material for this law—this process is also a
pendant to the verbal noise. 
   This is not intended as an attack on the law of cause and
effect itself. The law of cause and effect is necessary, it is a
part of the human structure. And there is also a readiness
in things themselves to be bound to each other according
to the laws of causality. But this relationship must not
become autonomous, it must not exist for its own sake,
but must be for the sake of things and for the sake of man.

   It is the method of psychoanalysis, of depth psychology,
and a great part of the rest of psychology, to analyze a
phenomenon into an infinite series of explanations. The
phenomenon becomes covered with explanations and
disappears in them. Just as the word falls to pieces in the
general noise of words, so a phenomenon or a fact falls to
pieces in the process of explanation. Just as there are no
longer any clearly defined words, but only the vague noise
of words, so there are no longer any clear phenomena or
clear facts, but only vague explanations of phenomena
and facts.
   There is a kind of mechanism of explanation at work
today which operates automatically and draws all phenom-
ena into its activity. Phenomena have become nothing
but material for this machinery of explanation. It is as
though everything has been explained in advance—even
before the actual appearance of the phenomenon itself.
It is not the explanation that is sought in order to explain
the phenomenon, but the phenomenon that is sought as
material for the ready-made explanation.
   Phenomena are dissolved into nothing by psychoan-
alytical and depth-psychological explanations. For exam-
ple, the phenomena of father, mother, and son are des-
troyed by the explanation of psychoanalysis: Oedipus
murdered his father and became the husband of his 
mother. These monstrous facts and the phenomena of
father, mother, and son are reduced by psychoanalysis to
the mere appendage of an erotic complex. Whereas
Sophocles makes the phenomena of fatherhood plain for
the first time through the murder, it becomes clear as a
basic, elemental phenomenon: a father has been slain—a
father! And the incest of the son with his mother
destroys the image of the mother in the actual moment of
incest, it is true. But it rises clearer than ever before
through the son's expiation. It becomes the image of the
basic phenomenon of motherhood. Not Oedipus but fate
itself seems to be wringing out its eyes so that it does not
have to see how in the extremes of suffering (not in the
extremes of explanation) father, mother, and son die and
rise again.
   The elemental phenomena of fatherhood and mother-
hood exist even more firmly and securely after the tragedy.
The earth seems to be created more securely than before.
The elemental phenomena seem to have been given to the
earth for the first time.—But psychoanalysis takes them
from the earth and dissolves them with the whole
   Contemporary existential philosophy is an attempt to
get right away from the mechanism of verbal noise and 
   Man throws himself into nothingness. He prefers to
be thrown into nothingness than to be a mere part of the
mechanism of words and things. Through this fall the
mechanism seems to be interrupted, and man having
arrived at nothingness stands faced with a new beginning.
   But the man who might be faced with a new beginning
does not exist at all. He does not exist at all in this
nothingness: he is dissolved in it. There is no human
person left to approach the elemental things through the
categories of existential philosophy, things such as dread,
care, death. There is only an empty space in which man
and dread and care and death are all immersed in a single,
all-dissolving nothingness. Man is an empty waste. He
himself is this empty waste, in which the echoes of the
world of noise are heard even more loudly than before.
   Existential philosophy has something of the quality of
a subterranean drill, and the noise of this machine is part
of the general world of noise.

   In this universal noise, in which the content of words
is no longer valid or important, but only their purely
acoustic movements, and in which everything is covered
and leveled down by noise, both the word of the poet and
the idle chatter of gossips are immersed, swallowed up in
the one all-pervading noise.
   Here there is neither solitude nor true community;
only a jumble in the noise.
   Two objects fundamentally opposed to each other no
longer stand face to face, they simply slide by each other
in the noise.
   There are no longer any polarities and therefore no
longer any passion, any destiny. What appears as destiny
or fate is simply the condensation of many noises into a
single enormous din (the din of Nazidom for example).
But that is really nothing more than a temporary break-
down, an interruption in the flow of noise.
   Imagination is no longer necessary here: the noise has
everything in stock.
   Truth does not need to be transformed into lies when
anyone wants to lie, for truth and falsehood are no longer
distinct from each other in the noise.
   Life here is an emerging from the noise, and death a
disappearing therein.
   Through the machinery of verbal noise, however, more
evil than good is spread abroad, for the phenomena of evil
correspond to the structure of noise and its uncertainty
and vagueness than do the phenomena of goodness.
Goodness is almost always clearly defined and demarcated.
Evil on the other hand loves the vagueness of twilight. In
the twilight it can steal in everywhere.
   Verbal noise is not evil itself, but it prepares the way
for evil: the spirit easily becomes submerged in the noise.
   The evil that arises in the noise is different, however,
from the evil of, for example, Richard III. It is in man
before he has made a decision for evil, before he has even
noticed its presence inside him.
   The relationship of this evil to the noise is like that of
the marsh-plant to the marsh: they belong to each other
from the very outset; where one is there is the other also.
Marsh plant and marsh, falsehood and noise—one is the
expression of the other.

   It is quite true, of course, that the simple things still
survive in the world of noise: birth and death and love.
But they exist in a world bereft of words, as pure phenom-
ena, and solitary in the midst of all the machinery. And
there is a radiance about them—nowhere so brilliant as
here—as if they were trying to burn the machinery all
around them in the fire of their radiance.
   A radiance goes out from the phenomena of love and
death and children. The radiance passes from one phenom-
enon to another, and in this radiance they cease to be alone.
In it they are connected one with another: through the
radiance these things speak with one another. Where the
word has been destroyed, this radiance has become the 
language of the elemental things.