The sinister strains of English folk music

      With public life increasingly a din of personalized ringtones and phone chatter, we crave silence. Acoustic ecologists speak of “ear cleaning” exercises that might attune our ears beatifically to a hushed environment. Silence itself can be quite noisy, of course. Even in the countryside the thoughts in one’s head and the sound of one’s breathing can disturb …

Feeling a bit like death

      For the Victorians, death was a release from earthly cares as well as one’s hoped-for ascension to heaven. The lavishly draped urns and keening stone angels of Victorian-era cemeteries in Highgate, Kensal Green and elsewhere in London were a way to express one’s social standing and the mystery of the end of life. These urban Valhallas present …