Actually, I have long been of the opinion that the quantity of noise anyone can comfortably endure is in inverse proportion to his mental powers, and may therefore be regarded as a rough estimate of them. Therefore, when I hear dogs barking unchecked for hours in the courtyard of a house, I know what to think of the mental powers of the inhabitants. ... We shall be quite civilized only when our ears are no longer outlawed and it is no longer anyone's right to cut through the consciousness of every thinking being within a circuit of a thousand yards, by means of whistling, howling, bellowing, hammering, whip-cracking, letting dogs bark, and so on.Years ago, we lived in an apartment that looked out on a yard where a dog was left out all day to bark at strangers, trains, leaves blowing down the alley, etc. It was my impression that the owners simply didn't hear the dog, because they were inside with the windows down and the TV on. On the other hand, their tolerance for noise must have been high. One Saturday morning we were awakened when the man of the house propped a skillet on the porch steps and buffed the rust from its bottom with an attachment on an electric drill. That sounded as if a spoon had gone into a garbage disposal, only much louder.
Washington will not be civilized by Schopenhauer's standard anytime soon. It is difficult to walk many blocks in any direction downtown without passing a construction site. The other day at lunch time, I saw a shredder truck operating on I St. NW opposite Lafayette Square: I don't know who can manage concentrated thought within a block of one of those. Musicians play wind instruments and electric guitars on busy corners. Yet a co-worker has said in response to my complaints that Washington is much quieter than Taipei.