Saturday, October 31, 2009

my bionic ears

this week we explored the sense of sound in unravelling further: exploring the senses. I have such a love-hate relationship with sound. it has to do with my weird ears. they are hypertuned and sounds are often over-amplified.

when I would lay my head down on my pillow as a child, an entire world of sounds would emerge from inside my pillow (in actuality, the sounds were in my head, I just thought they were in my pillow). the soundscape consisted of whines, bleeps, whirls, squeeks and other assorted hi- and low-frequency beats. I imagined a tiny village in the pillow just starting their day as I was ending mine. eventually, I made out conversations and music and tempos of the little magical world. (don't worry, I have been advised that this was the sign of a grand imagination and not schizophrenia; plus the tiny folk were kind and interesting and never told me to kill or otherwise do harm. in fact, now that I think of it, they operated as if I was not there.) the whole experience provided much fodder for a rich dream world and future character development (my own and potential fictional expansion).

I am also highly attuned to the sound of everyday mechanical processes. I love the rhythm of operation: the click-whirl of the camera, the metallic clank of the gumball machine door, the clickity-clack purr of the rotary phone dial, the chemical hum of lit neon. these things actually read as music in my head. I cannot not hear them; they are a part of my life.

the acuity of my hearing ebbs and flows. sometimes I can actually hear conversations in the house next door. it is cumbersome when I am in an environment where several conversations are going on at the same time. if you were talking with me during these times, I might appear a bit scattered. I have to put a lot of energy into staying present with the conversation I am in. if there is tv, music, air conditioning, rain, etc. in addition, chances are I'm not picking up our communication in its entirety.

the downside is that some sounds are painful: sopranos kill me, I can't listen to mariah carey or enjoy a movie in the theatre. I'm drawn to down-beats, bass lines, hidden riffs in music, just as in life.