Drumming and Crunching

February 8, 2012

Two listening experiences last Thursday. Upon exiting my apartment, I am greeted by three percussionists in two trees in the backyard, a hairy, a downy, and a pileated woodpecker. Three different time signatures, one session . . .

Later that morning, as I am sitting in Gimme Coffee reading Agamben, a sound behind me makes me involuntarily turn my neck. I stop short of being obvious, so I don’t get a look at what it is. A crunching sound that affects me like a finger on the wrong part of the brain. Some sounds don’t give a physical so much as a mental sensation, an unpleasant pressure whose parameters seem deeply psychological. I finally figure out that the guy behind me is chewing his ice. The funny thing is that if he’d been sitting opposite, I probably wouldn’t have minded. (And I surely have inflicted my own ice chewing on other strangers.) But in that location, coming from where I can’t see it, the sound is almost unbearable.

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