There is something noticeably different in Plaza Santa Ana this year. And it has me avoiding the neighborhood altogether, whenever possible. (I live only three blocks away but now take extra steps not to go there.) We could call it noise pollution. The public commons has been penetrated by an intruder which attempts to draw visitors into spending money there; but in my case at least, it sends this customer scurrying away.
Initially I thought the continuous commercial harangue was coming from a single stall; but no, there are at least two loudspeakers installed above the vendor spaces, on the market structure itself ‚ÄĒ so I must conclude that most vendors have welcomed this rude noise. But I must also wonder if it hasn’t had a negative effect on sales (not to mention peace of mind).
This all reminds me of a speech, Silence is a Commons, given by Ivan Illich questioning such technology. Illich taught for many years in Cuernavaca (1961-early 1970’s). ¬†Below is an excerpt from that speech, lamenting the degradation of the public commons, which can be read in its entirety, here: ¬†http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Silence.html

Unless you have access to a loudspeaker, you now are silenced.

I hope that the parallel now becomes clear. Just as the commons of space are vulnerable, and can be destroyed by the motorization of traffic, so the commons of speech are vulnerable, and can easily be destroyed by the encroachment of modem means of communication.

The issue which I propose for discussion should therefore be clear: how to counter the encroachment of new, electronic devices and systems upon commons that are more subtle and more intimate to our being than either grassland or roads Рcommons that are at least as valuable as silence. Silence, according to western and eastern tradition alike, is necessary for the emergence of persons. It is taken from us by machines that ape people. We could easily be made increasingly dependent on machines for speaking and for thinking, as we are already dependent on machines for moving.

13 thoughts on “EAR POLLUTION

  1. I agree with Eric. Someone should put this haranging speaker out of OUR misery.
    How about a demonstration in Santa Ana park? We can get municiple police motorcycles to hang around to “protect” us and block trafic. Maybe a megaphone will be needed to make our issue known over the noise of “THE*#%¬• SPEAKER”. Does anyone have one? We need someone to make up signs and, of course, organize the obligatory demonstration march to the park. We can all meet at the foot of Montejo. Stand up for peace! ¬°Viva Paz!

  2. Ha! A wacky drama you’ve devised, Pat. We can all get arrested together for intruding into sovereign matters. But then, we would deserve it for using a megaphone to protest a bullhorn. However, my sentiments are with yours in wishing for an uprising. ~eric.

  3. If you think this might be interpreted as interference with a ‘government’ speaker, then you’re right Eric…we’ll all go to the hoosegow. So, maybe not such a good idea. I’ll return to ‘avoidance’ too until another solution is available. Anyone with a better idea?

  4. Perhaps compose a short but explanatory note, copy it off for each of the stalls there and hand them out to the businesses themselves, maybe including surrounding businesses. You might explain that you often shopped there before but the sound is too loud to come into the area.

    Then perhaps those businesses would influence the government to cut back or eliminate the noise. It’s just an idea, but if they have something in hand it might be more effective than a casual complaint.

    Merida has had sound ordinances for many years, but those are mainly enforced regarding late night loud noise.

  5. Thanks, Chris. You seem to give credence to the view that the megaphone is gov’t owned. That makes me nervous about lobbying for change. NoB I would certainly press such a campaign, in English; but I’m a citizen there (and my Spanish is not that good). While I do subscribe to the view that the commons belong to everyone, including visitors and non-residents, that position probably is not codified into law here. But interference in internal affairs is, and can have dire consequences to violators, or so I’ve heard.

    I would think this assignment should fall upon self-interested vendors. If you know any, they are welcome to copy off this blog & comments page.

  6. Maybe a pretty safe thing is for any of us visiting such a location, to just approach a vendor and give an “Ay”? (meaning “I can’t stand the noise”) comment, verbally; OR, with a smile, but fingers plugging one’s ears might do the trick. When I complain about something I try (not always with success) to smile while doing so. It does help.

    I once told a favorite restaurant’s management person that for some reason, some of the buffet items were far too salty that particular day. He thanked me for the feedback, and the error has not been repeated; and I still get excellent service.

    Incidentally–I sure hope you were able to see the movie “The Artist”.
    Even though not technically sound-free (there is music), it is the greatest offering for QUIET that I’ve ever seen. I actually thought, while watching it: “I hope this never ends.”

  7. Hi.
    I agree with this~ and glad to see that I am not alone! Plaza Santa Ana used to be a favorite. I no longer go there for this reason. I do purchase my gasoline at the PEMEX on the corner and I have found that most of the attendants are not pleased with the noise intrusion. Hopefully a peaceful solution is around the corner.

  8. Many thanks, Alinde! I put up a comment on the article you shared, adding SantaAna plaza to the list of polluters. Maybe the merchants will agree that their advertising dollar is not well spent. ~eric.

  9. In case you haven’t seen this in YL this week–

    Peace and Quiet in Centro
    The Deputy Director of Ecology has announced that there is a new program, already in effect, to monitor the noise level in Centro. Those vendors and shop owners who exceed 66 decibels will receive a fine of between 25 and 500 times the minimum wage. If they still do not lower their volume, their shops and businesses will be closed. This is welcome news to those who live near some of the offenders and everyone is looking forward to holidays free from what could very well be noise levels that damage hearing.

  10. Jay,
    Many thanks for this good news. I do hope they enforce the law. Today at Merida English Library one of the principles told me of an Australian couple who had wished to buy a home here, but decided against buying because Centro was so noisy.

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