Aural Rape

GSTAAD—Imagine a beautiful, sexy woman, an Ava Gardner or a Lily James, with a wart at the end of her nose. It stands out double, whereas on an ugly countenance it would almost go unnoticed. Noise in beautiful and peaceful surroundings disturbs more than in grating, jarring cities. Last week, after yet another record snowfall, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, I was cross-country skiing and stopped for a picnic lunch with Lara and Patricia, two married friends of mine who had left me miles behind while skating, the new method of cross-country. (I remain traditional, gliding on the double track.)

A cloudless and very blue sky accentuated the beauty of the landscape. I haven’t seen so much snow in the 62 winters I’ve spent here, the mountains looking their best, their solemnity inaccessible as there is too much snow for skiers to handle. (And too much risk of avalanches. I’m not one to talk, but had the Alps remained pure and inviolate, instead of being full of brothel resorts, this would be a far, far better place.) Then a bearded 30ish man arrived and took out something from his duffel bag, and suddenly all hell broke loose. Dogs howled, birds took off, sleepy farmers opened windows to find out what the racket was. I had no idea what was going on until Patricia’s young son pointed at the bearded jerk and the machine he was holding while controlling a drone that was making all the noise and scaring away the wildlife.

In times like this, one needs Aristotelian logic. Old Ari insisted that fine language should be kept for moments where action and argument are not presented. (He was referring to theatrical drama.) Not being Aristotle, and this being real life, I asked the bearded jerk first in French and then in bad German why he was doing this. No response. Finally in English I called him an asshole and he turned, smiled, and said, “Tip-top,” a particularly annoying Swiss expression to signify everything’s hunky-dory. Grounding the drone, he picked it up and disappeared down the valley. Where the hell was the abominable snowman when we needed him?

Mental health professionals and other busybody phonies would have diagnosed my reaction as SPS, small-penis syndrome, or LLS, lockdown logorrhea symptom, but it was nothing of the kind. Most psychotherapists today agree that one-on-one therapy is the answer with people who stand up for themselves at some modern outrage. The richer the patient, the more therapy is advised. Mental health professionals would invent a syndrome for my perfect definition of that jerk as an asshole and strongly advise treatment. I don’t buy any of that. Actually what he did was a form of aural rape, it was almost as bad as interrupting a Schubert concerto with rap crap. Another German, Herr Schopenhauer, said it best: “The higher one’s tolerance for noise, the lower one’s intellect.”

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