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Stifled

Author: joe

Wednesday, 17 November, 2010 - 22:32

- on distant sounds

By now I have to think of things from an artificial space, with neither place nor time; a space only of words, phone-calls, meetings, timetables, politics, waiting, failures. By now I'm a professional acrobat, actor and tightrope walker, for an audience that I invent, that I describe to myself, a remote audience with whom I have no contact, stifled echoes of whose talking, clapping and disapproval reach me, whose wars, catastrophes, famines, suicides, escapes, poverty or anxious restings along crowded beaches or inside smoky stadiums I read about in papers; how can I know who are the ones expecting something from me?
 
When I Was a Very Small Boy by Ettore Sottsass

The capillary spaces through which the sounds and sensations of the others reach me disperse the messages in the matter and deaden the effect. This gap is no longer an empty abyss but a mediating field which distorts, hinders, dampens, and strangles.

What do those sounds signify? Distant armies? Cries for help? The unheeding continuity of a world carrying on about its business? All the rich and kaleidoscopic variety one imagines lies beyond is homogenised into a confused, thudding, constant drone. The voice that I hope asks, "who are you?" may all too easily be an inscription into the sound, all of my own making, a product of my desire.

And yet, does a modulation break through, intermittently, briefly, a chink in the proofing, where the high tones penetrate? Is a rescue mission underway, drilling through the dead rock, reaching out with an answer to the yearning?

Categories: Ettore Sottsass, distance, alienation, sound, Matthew Arnold, dialogue,
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