Who is listening to us?

January 30, 2012

I sit. I listen. I try to open my ears to sounds I ignore or can hardly hear for the countless others vying for attention, and I realize that hearing is essentially beyond physical. My entire body is of course an ear, an echo chamber that captures and produces sound. Yet without the mind to perceive that sound, to translate its communicative possibilities into a form that is linguistic and portable, it is music without an amplifier. Another realization: we spend so much time thinking and writing about what the world sounds like to us, but how often do we think about how we might sound to the world? For is it not true that a great portion of the animal sounds we hear on a daily basis are due to our presence being perceived as a threat? Whether it’s the squirrel running away from us through a patch of leaves, the deer bounding through branches with an eye turned back on us for safety, the wing-flutter of the bird whose feeding we’ve interrupted, the timid cat who slinks almost silently away—these are the sonic signatures of protection and escape to which we are a hindering punctuation. -Tyran


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