Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Of noise and silence

One frequently sees skateboarders react in opposite ways when landing a trick successfully. Sometimes they exhibit immense excitement, give their friends a high-five, or repeat the trick in front of their friends to impress them. And sometimes, they'll perform the same trick with no obvious reaction to it, they simply continue skating. I call the first type of reaction 'noisy', and the second type, 'silent'.

What accounts for the different reactions?

Let us explore a few possible explanations:

a) If a bottle full to the brim with coins is shook, it makes no noise. A bottle containing only a few coins, however, produces a loud rattle. One who is deeply confident with his skateboarding ability doesn't feel the need to show off,  he knows that people appreciate his ability without him having to actively draw their attention to it. In contrast, one who feels rather empty of value and ability, feels that people will not automatically appreciate his skating, he thus actively makes them notice him through noise and pomp.

b) A feather makes little noise on landing; a brick lands with a thud. A skater who is aware of how amazing professional skateboarders are and compares his own abilities to theirs, or who senses that relative to his own potential, he's only actualized a tiny fraction, feels quite small - 'light'. Hence, he makes little noise about himself when he lands a trick. On the other hand, a skater who loses sight of his true place may exaggerate his  own abilities, seeing them as more substantial - 'heavier' - than they really are. As a result, he is inclined to make noise when he lands a trick.

c) Compare three types of fuel: moist wood, straw, and oil. Moist wood crackles heavily when consumed; straw is quieter; olive oil burns silently. The reason for the decreased noise in each successive fuel type is the fuel's decreased resistance to consumption. Moist wood is coarsest and most resistant to consumption and thus makes much noise. In a sense, it puts up a big fight. Oil, in contrast, is exceptionally refined and perfect for consumption. It is thus consumed silently.

A skater who feels he's attempting a trick well beyond his level, and whose body and psyche resist performing the trick, is apt to make much noise as he comes closer and closer to landing it. On the other hand, a skater who has the physical and psychological preparedness to perform a trick, does so with greater ease - less resistance - and hence more quietly.

d) Novelty tends to be exciting. What one is accustomed to, he tends to take for granted. Hence, when a skater first lands a trick, he is inclined to feel excited and joyful. However, having performed the trick many times - and has continued to attempt more skillful feats - he has typically habituated to the trick and thus performs it without the whistles...                

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