Yet there often seems to be a disquieting mystery at the heart of such quiet harmony, one which puts me in mind of those hysterical but memorable words, quoted from Büchner's Woyzek, displayed on screen at the start of Werner Herzog's film The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser. Over a shot of a wheat field writhing in a blustery wind, accompanied by Pachelbel's Canon, we see a text: "Don't you hear that horrible screaming all round you? That screaming men call silence?"*
Well, I did say they were hysterical words (as in "excessively emotional or agitated", rather than "wildly funny") but I'm sure you understand what he means. We're not talking about tinnitus here. Longer-term readers may recall my own experience with El Tiburón, and you may have had similar experiences of your own.
Büchner's words are an example of what I like to call "heavy breathing", a tendency both Romantics and Modernists have in common. That is, a tendency to talk up the hidden horrors of the world, and their attendant alienation, in such a way as to draw an audience into unwilling complicity. "Hmm, yes, I think you like this too, really, don't you, my dear?" It's the seamy side of the Sublime.
A more venerable account of the experience is embodied in the etymology of "panic", originally an inexplicable surge of fear experienced in a wild place, said to be the mischievous god Pan making himself known. Perhaps that terrible screaming is simply the sound of the piper at the Gates of Dawn, playing in a key and register normally beyond the range of human ears.
Sheep on Brown Clee hill
* Actually, to be accurate, the text we see is "Hören Sie denn nicht das entsetzliche Schreien ringsum, das man gewöhnlich die Stille heißt?" with English subtitles, delivered in two bites. The German might more accurately be translated as "Don’t you hear that terrible screaming all around, which is customarily called silence?". To be even more accurate, Herzog's film is actually called "Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle" i.e. "Every man for himself and God against everyone" which pretty much lays Werner's cards on the table.