Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2019

DOMA and the Decline of Silence

DOMA and the Decline of Silence

Today has been quite a day—wonderful, poignant, and memorable. Justice, or at least partial justice, has been served. There’s still a long way to go (i.e.: let’s fight for EDNA, people!), but today feels GOOD. Here is a piece from Slate to remind us who we are fighting against. And here is President Clinton’s statement from when he signed DOMA into law in 1996. We should be thankful our current president is on the right side of things.

—Masha Udensiva-Brenner, Editor

The Decline of Silence

I’ve been having a hard time at the library recently. I guess I’m old-fashioned, but I was raised believing that libraries were quiet places, where people came to read, study and escape the distractions of the café and outside world. Though I’m not religious, I see libraries as modern-day cathedrals of sorts, with their beautiful, stately architecture, their large, sometimes stained-glass windows, their rows of worn books, and their solemn disciples silently performing their rituals (of page turning, of staring off into space) or, if they must, speaking in hushed tones. But nowadays I find myself glaring at these “disciples”: the guy laughing and moaning (no joke) at a movie; the woman sneezing on the magazines; the people answering their cell phones; the dude cramming a cheeseburger in his mouth as he types on the already grimy public computer. But the most classic moment of library sacrilege had to have been the girls who, as they passed by me while I was peacefully reading, shrilled, “It’s so quiet in here.”

Someone who might understand my library woes is Gordon Hempton, the Emmy Award-winning nature sound recorder. Though he turns to the outdoors for his recordings of “silence,” he, too, bemoans the loss of quiet places. It’s kind of sad but also inspiring to follow him in his search for “natural”—that is, unmolested and unaltered by humans—sounds in the wonderful documentary “Soundtracker.” You’ll start to hear the hidden soundscapes within silence, and wonder, with Gordon, why do planes fly over our national parks? And, perhaps, wonder, with me, why are libraries so loud?

For more on Gordon Hempton, including links to his recordings and his book One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet, check out his website.

For images on libraries, including Unusual Home Libraries, National Libraries, and Destroyed Libraries, here’s your website.

—Nicola Fucigna, Fiction Editor