Sunday, November 9, 2008

Meditation on Sound

Drive a northern country road into imagination of some place like northern Alberta. Fields in the country, land, spring, huge puddles on the dirt road, easy to get stuck, park the car. Get out. Walk around. Straw sticking up through mud exposed after snow melted. There's nothing like a walk in the country.

Euphoria of space.

Field of vision, field of knowledge, lilies of the field, immense fields, subcategories of subcategories, huge fields, some of them between brackets and set aside to deal with later—a very unusual, and at first, bewildering situation, but, in fact, quite ordinary. So many details pop into awareness and lead to difficult, but extraordinary relationships.

These are the words of a cartoon philosopher. A fly dancing on the table, listen to the sound of a spoon scraping food out of a cast iron frying pan, fried rice.

Sound is easier to digest than dinner spilled all over the table like billboards along the freeway, as I listened to the sound signature of a rental car. Microsounds of coffee swooshing into a cup, buzzed on sound, sneezing, slapping sound, construction powder dust, musty, rotten wood, door-slamming, delivery trucks, important intersection.

Complicated, very serious, migraine, dissonant, hectic, random sound situation. Plug in the toaster. It starts to rain. The phone rings. It stops raining. I left the butter on the stove and when I got back, it had melted into lemon yellow fluid.

These are random Sunday afternoon images that floated through my mind as I slept for half an hour in the easy chair, while the sun went down about 3 PM.

It's soothing to sleep in the easy chair, in a quiet room in a house in the arctic. Straining my ears to hear something, I hear nothing except a buzz, the buzz of the ears, various tones. There are those who head off in search of new sound and those who return to the sound itself, the sound as no sound. If you listen hard enough, suddenly there's no sound. You could be running after a new auditory sensation, but then it gets all mixed up with voices in the head, (as Samuel Beckett suggested in the novel Company), or voices outside the head, voices somewhere, a world full of voices, some trying to say something, others attempting to eliminate silence with the rumble of nonsense.

Hectic, happy grandmother, grandfather sound, acceleration of a motorvehicle, slowing down and then speeding up, everybody is going somewhere, if we didn't all go, we'd stay. It neither comes nor goes. It doesn't start or end. I remember how grandmother stood beside the huge, cast-iron woodstove inside the kitchen, while I waited outside and gazed at her through a flimsy screen door, a few holes in the screen where flies got in and how she waved her finger, warning me to stay away from psychotic gibberish. It was also ok to admire bee hives in the meadow and then to wander into a stand of paper birch at the edge of the muskeg, filled with tamarack and some jack-pine nearby.

Each time I set off down the road of sound, I meet distraction. I can't listen more than a few econds before another sound grabs my attention and leads me off into different music.

Chorus: hammering, tearing, drilling, cutting—circular saw, power drill, bird song, hammering, tapping, ripping, battering, sinking, tumbling, teeth-grinding, fingernail-destroying sound. An epidemic of noise, degrees of clarity or obscurity, turn towards the uncomfortable sound. Bring it into focus. Leave out the reaction to sound. Listen to the actual sound, burning, freezing, tearing, scraping, crushing, piercing, biting, sucking, throbbing, suffocating; or perhaps joyful, like that famous piece by Luigi Nono entitled: Calm and Serene Waves.

1 comment:

Sylvain Lamoureux said...

I like this
"Each time I set off down the road of sound, I meet distraction. I can't listen more than a few econds before another sound grabs my attention and leads me off into different music."