Wednesday, 15 August 2012


In general, sound has a very limited place in the cataloguing of my memories. I may remember the identification of a sound and associate that identification with a place or experience, but the sound itself rapidly slips from my memory as though each and every one was completely silent but for the general chatter of conversation.
I remember that on my first visit to Singapore a sound that was identified as like that of an alarm clock was connected back to a local cicada, but I don't remember the sound itself, or even the intensity of the noise. Looking back, it is as though I never heard the original sound at all.
Another are the markets of Asia, food or otherwise. I have been to more than a few and while I remember the sight of crowds of people and goods being thrust in one's face, the associated sounds are about as distinct as loud static.
Other memories, I can feel my brain connect the dots: I see a seagull near the beach with its mouth open and so I actively fill the space with what experience has told me to expect to hear. But again, when the cause of the sound is 'invisible' it ceases to exist.

What is stranger still though is that there is one exception to this pattern. I have one memory where the sound is an overwhelming component of the memory.
I am in Athens, visiting the Acropolis and walking down the winding slope towards the Theatre of Dionysus. It's the middle of summer and the middle of a very hot day and as was typical of me, I was dehydrated and looking for a refreshing patch of shade in which to rest a while before continuing on down the slope and into the New Acropolis museum. Pausing in the shade of a pine tree, it was impossible not to hear the sound of a swarm of cicadas humming through the air above me. They never moved and I could not see them but somehow these insects chirped on incessantly  filling the surroundings with a strange liveliness, a reminded of life in the otherwise still air.

Back home, in our summer I occasionally hear a cicada, its familiar chirping drifting in through the open window, and am transported back to the downhill traipse among the vestiges of Athen's past.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...