This section is from the "Impaired Health: Its Cause And Cure" (Volume 1) book, by John H. Tilden. Also available from Amazon: Impaired health its cause and cure: A repudiation of the conventional treatment of disease
The nervous system of those who live in large towns and cities is put to great stress. We are fast approaching a time when the noise nuisance will have to be legislated out of existence, the same as other nuisances that have been squelched.
The automobile need not be a nuisance, but it certainly is. The majority of people who drive their machines act as though they had a special commission to make as much noise, split as much air, and kick up as much dust as possible.
Since the automobile and motorcycle have come to stay, there has sprung up a type of people who really believe that their other name is pandemonium. Unless they are kicking up enough noise to wreck the "nerve" of a political lobbyist, they will not be able to "split the ears" of His Majesty, the Prince of Perdition, when they go to him; which they will, for they certainly will be out of place at a "rest" resort. The average chauffeur plays with the cut-off as the average motorman on the street car plays with his bell.
The street car is made up of the quintessence of noise, and the motorman has become so noise-crazed that he clangs his bell--not because he is approaching a crossing; not because he has a slow coach in front of him, but because he is playing an accompaniment to his thoughts. He thinks noise, hence he plays noise.
The car itself is a gamester of noise "par excellence.'? But health declares it a disgrace to civilization. Not the slightest attention has ever been given to constructing a silent-running car; it is put together so that every part becomes a rival of every other part in creating din. Then, when this roar-monger is manned by a real bellringer, hell is certainly turned loose when this peace- and quiet-destroyer is sent over a street every thirty to sixty seconds. There is positively no excuse for inflicting such punishment on humanity. Surprise is expressed at the number of people committing suicide and going insane every year. Unless commercialism is controlled in its selfishness, it will fill the world with mad-houses and penitentiaries.
Fill a street with modern cars, and a lot of automobiles with their cut-offs opened and conks conking, and we certainly have a state of uproar that must cause degeneration of the nervous system of all human beings subjected to it.
Why should we wonder at the increase of insanity and crime, when we add to the din the thousand-and-one other nerve-destroying habits of social and business life?
Every lover of music and art should protest without ceasing against the growing tendency to convert this beautiful world into a hideous nightmare of inharmony. When it is admitted that "silence is more musical than any song," why should the mongers of noise be allowed to rule?
Is there anyone so simple-minded as to need to be told that such a bedlam as exists in every large town and city is subversive of ethics, art, and religion? The beautiful, sonorous, and euphonious sounds are suppressed by the uproar, and the prospective mothers of the coming generation are forced into developing a distorted nervous system to impart to their children.
We must certainly expect to reap as we sow. Can any but the fool believe that we can sow inharmony and reap harmony--sow pandemonium and reap Utopias?
Disagreeable sounds, smells, sights, tastes, and feelings are so intimately united and blended with commercialism that there is little hope of overcoming them. With this it is the same as with disease-producing beliefs and so-called cures. The present style of curing and immunizing is so much a part of Rockefeller's millions, and other millions, that there is no hope of any considerable reform. The masses move along tied to the yoke of mammon; the poor, sick fools denounce the system that they declare usurps and exploits them; yet in every other way they uphold it with ballot and voice.
The noise system is a cheap-John scheme. It gets up cars as cheaply as possible--which means that they must be noisy. It charges as much as the law will allow. The patrons are shaken and jolted as only a springless and bumperless car or wagon can shake or jolt; and then their finer senses are shocked, through the auditory nerves, by the noise that almost prevents thinking. All this wears out the patron; it injures him as a citizen; his health is impaired. The health, morality, estheticism, and artistic development of the people of any city may largely be measured by its cleanliness and absence of noise. A public utility that is grossly selfish, and tears the people down to lift itself, is certainly penny-wise and pound-foolish.
When people are nervous, they lack in judgment--they do not make the progress in trades, professions, arts, music, and business that they should. A city made up of noise-crazed people will not make progress in a substantial way. Why? Because noise-crazed people are nervous selfish, disloyal, and unable to see that to gratify themselves to the detriment of the city's best interests is to cut their own economic throats. This is exactly what every street-car company is doing when its economy lowers the moral, health, and sanity standard of its patrons.