Archive for December, 2009

Gee, the world is busy. There is no moment when the air is not filled with intrusive sounds. Anxious footsteps scurrying on their way to ‘somewhere’. The roar of an airplane’s engine, a passing car. Or the constant bombardment of images from the television or from roadside advertising. Our brains are constantly confronted with human made images and sounds – our very own synthetic environment, where our divorce from ‘naturalness’ is complete. You have to go a long way to be immersed in the world of natural sounds and images. But we aren’t going that way, we are pouring into the cities, all around the world. And the cities are growing, and getting louder and bigger. We have become experts in noise.

Silence has become terrifying. When was the last time I heard silence? I can’t think. And when silence comes what impact does it have on the brain of the individual, used to the bombardment of noise? To the point that the noise becomes a comfort, a blanket, a masking of the internal noise. That’s what happens when you hit silence. The internal noise becomes apparent. And its instant busyness is so confronting we turn on the television or see a movie or ring a friend. Just to turn up the external volume.

What of the moving image? Always something moving before our eyes in the city. The brain is constantly stimulated. What happens when a brain used to movement is dropped in a zone of naturalness? And there is nothing but the sway of trees and movement of waves for hours and hours on end. And the view like the sound is forever changing, although it is slow. For there is no rhythm as such. Not like the daily predictability of the time when the car motors will start roaring, or the television will start bleating, or the school teacher will say, ‘pick up your books!’.

For we are caught in a machine of our own making. A world that runs according to the needs of machines. Times, boundaries, deadlines, demands, seductions. Our brain is slowly being reprogrammed so that its relationship with the natural is eliminated, while our willingness to fall into quotidian rhythms as required by machines becomes complete. Take that brain into an area of ‘naturalness’ and it will seek the lights of a fast food store and the distracting sounds of a passing car.

But the brain won’t get it! Only the rustle of tired leaves until the shocking squawk of an eagle breaks the sky. The heart pumps in this break of predictability. For now the body is being forced into a different relationship with its surrounds. What mystery lies in the sudden surge of an animal’s body through the undergrowth, or the moaning violin of two tree branches sawing in the wind? To what depths of understanding can these seemingly simple moments take us? These are the questions that will become redundant when the world is one large city, living on the soulless flick of a clock and the demands of the machines we have created.

We who are extensions of the loud & luminous system we have created, blind to our participation in the grand symphony of cosmic unpredictability.


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