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Peace and quiet! How rare it is, how precious. Why rare? Because a full-blooded modern economy is no monastery, no “ancient pond” into which a frog may jump, producing the hushed “sound of water” immortalized by the haiku poet Basho (1644-94).

Engines roar, machinery hums, advertisements blare. Try getting away from it. Maybe, just maybe, if you live in a quiet neighborhood, if your walls are thick, if you’re not too near a train station or construction site or compulsively barking dogs or convenience store parking lot or main road over which trucks thunder, you can shut your door against the clamorous chaos of the outside world, close your eyes and sink — until the outside world summons you forth again, as it all too soon will — into that blessed state called silence.

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