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Seeing Silence by Pete McBride

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We tend to think of silence as the absence of sound, but it is actually the void where we can hear the sublime notes of nature. Here, photographer Pete McBride reveals the wonders of these hushed places in spectacular imagery – from the thin-air flanks of Mount Everest to the depths of the Grand Canyon, from the high-altitude vistas of the Atacama to the African savannah, and from the Antarctic Peninsula to the flowing waters of the Ganges and Nile.
 
These places remind us of the magic of being 'truly away' and how such places are vanishing. Often showing beauty from vantages where no other photographer has ever stood, this is a seven-continent visual tour of global quietude – and the power in nature’s own sounds – that will both inspire and calm.

The book begins with a Foreword by Bill McKibben. McKibben is one of the world’s most accomplished explorers and nature writers. His work has appeared in places like The New York Times, The Atlantic, Outside, and elsewhere. And his Foreword is eloquent. He writes, “Quiet—defined, at least, as the absence of man-made cacophony – was, once, a human birthright. When we were small as a species, we didn’t take up much space – the light from our campfires didn’t penetrate too far into the night, and if you stepped outside the circle of flames you were in the dark. Similarly, if you left the village behind, it grew quiet around you, or at least the noises changed… Now these things seem like prizes for the affluent… But a little while in the outdoors – in a city park if that’s all there is, but for the lucky in a wilder territory, with more space – is all it takes to remind oneself what a wonderful gift the quiet is.”

There is also a Prologue by Erik Weihenmayer. Let that sink in: a prologue to a photobook by a blind man-albeit a blind man who has climbed Everest and has spent his life expanding our understanding of the senses. He writes, “Time and time again, I’ve discovered the function of sound, which enables me to navigate and stay safe. It’s not a superpower, but rather a lifetime habit of trying to eke out every bit of non-visual information, to distinguish the subtleties of pitch and tone… In our daily lives, the noise we experience as a product of our own doing. The tap and shuffle of footsteps, of dings and clinks, the rustle of fabric. The ‘real-world’ of everyday life is a bombardment of horns honking and sirens blaring… But in open spaces, it’s a whole new world of interpretation, the auditory sensations that, with work and attention, illuminate my brain and enable me to know, to understand, to pull beauty and awe from the environment.”

Clearly, something is different here.