The chatter of his neighbors once infuriated him so much that he physically accosted a woman gossiping outside his apartment door, resulting in a legal judgment that was enforced against him until she went to her grave. I've been reading his uproariously severe essay On Noise.
Kant wrote a treatise on The Vital Powers. I should prefer to write a dirge for them. The superabundant display of vitality, which takes the form of knocking, hammering, and tumbling things about, has proved a daily torment to me all my life long. There are people, it is true--nay, a great many people--who smile at such things, because they are not sensitive to noise; but they are just the very people who are not sensitive to argument, or thought, or poetry, or art, in a word, to any kind of intellectual influence. The reason of it is that the tissue of their brains is of a very rough and coarse quality. On the other hand, noise is a torture to intellectual people.The worst offender? The cracking of the horse whips of carriage drivers resounding over the narrow stone streets.
That the cracking of whips should be allowed at all seems to me to show in the clearest way how senseless and thoughtless is the nature of mankind. No one with anything like an idea in his head can avoid a feeling of actual pain at this sudden, sharp crack, which paralyzes the brain, rends the thread of reflection, and murders thought.Here's an enjoyable--and quiet--reading set to Wagner.