Wednesday, January 26, 2011

random notes on listening

Generally speaking, the way knowing of what we hear comes to us is slower than the way knowing of what we see does. While the number of people who regularly record environmental sound is still fewer than the number of those who regularly take photos, if it is true that the number of people who record environmental sound is increasing, it is probably because sound is invisible and we are becoming more serious about things we cannot see, be they the climate or system of society or some sort of conspiracy theory. We tend to believe truth or reality is always hidden. In other words, it is real because it is hidden, and the minute the once hidden is explicated, it is no longer called real.

Listening is physical. Your dance or yoga or pilates instructor may tell you, “Don't watch the mirror. Listen to your body.” Seeing is distancing, and that is why trying to capture reality through seeing can be aggressive. Seeing is bold, listening is subtle. Seeing is brave, listening is coward. You may not listen to furiously, but sound can make you furious. The sense of hearing is passive. At a certain moment, we become aware that we are hearing something, and then listen to it. It takes time to know what we are listening to, but it does not take time to apprehend the sounds. Or, rather, it is sound that apprehends us, just like an emotion. Music sometimes makes you cry. We probably are increasingly interested in rather what have gotten us than what we have gotten.

Some of those who are keen on listening may be taking sound as some sort of Romantic metaphysics. Like Surrealists took the Freudian concept of unconscious for their rather familiar notion of Romantic metaphysics, as a reservoir of their inspirations.

1 comment:

  1. This a beautiful descriptions about the deep resonance of sensation in sound. Also, I have to thank you, because of the tip about Birmingham university I now have Heathcock's PHD.