Today is the oral history project StoryCorps' National Day of Listening, a lovely idea on a host of levels. In its honor, a video featuring the late, great, wry Studs Terkel on what's increasingly missing in our lives.
STUDS TERKEL: What has happened to the human voice? Vox humana!
Hollering, shouting, quiet talking, buzz! I was leaving the airport -
this is in Atlanta. You know, you leave the gate, you take a train. That
took you to the concourse of your choice. I get into this train. Dead
silence. A few people are seated or standing. Up above, you hear a voice
that once was a human voice, but no longer. Now it talks like a
machine. "Concourse 1, Fort Worth, Dallas, Lubbock"-that kind of voice.
Just then the doors were about to close- automatic doors- when a young
couple rush in and push open the doors and get in. Without missing a
beat, the voice of of says, "Because of late entry, we are delayed 30
seconds." The people looked at that couple as if the couple had just
committed mass murder. And the couple is shrinking like this, you know?
Now, I'm known for my talking- I'm gabby- so I say, "George Orwell, your
time has come and gone!" I expected a laugh. Dead silence. And now they
look at me. And I'm with the couple- the three of us are at the
head of Calvary on Good Friday- and then I say, "My God, where is the
human voice?" Just then a little baby- the baby's maybe a year old- and I
say, "Sir or Madam- to the baby- what is your opinion of the human
species?" What does the baby do? The baby starts giggling! I say, "Thank
God! The sound of a human voice."