声音的舞蹈 – The dance of sound – English

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We’re often concerned only with images, and ignore sounds. Apart from ‘gazing’, there must be an equally important physical and spiritual act of ‘listening’ A world that puts too much emphasis on ‘seeing’ has led, over a long period of time, to the repression of our inner senses, including ‘listening’ . To make up an extreme case, the way a blind man experiences this world may not be more monotonous than seeing people, but richer and more pure.

This is how I console myself——有些变态地对声音敏感,或许是我在感知世界、认识自己方面更进了一步,至少它是我耳朵生病的可靠回报之一。

In the winter of 2006, as I was walking along the Southern road of the school in the wind, I suddenly felt that the wind was not uniform, even as it passed along both sides of my body. I vaguely felt that the sound of the wind in my right ear was softer, as that of a person covering their mouth when speaking, as a noise on the other side of a wall. After a few minutes of confusion, 我让所有的神经去感受究竟发生了什么,and I finally understood, the problem was not with the wind, it was something wrong with my ear. I finally identified that my right ear seemed filled by a mass of solidified air, and all sounds came to me through my right ear as if through something invisible.

I ran to the university hospital for a check-up, and the doctor said: you’ve got medium otitis media, and we will need to pierce your eardrum. At the time, I didn’t know what that meant, but the word ‘piercing’ made my heart tighten a bit, and I couldn’t help thinking: Oh my God, I might be about to become deaf in one ear. The doctor said she’d just started working, and could not do that kind of operation – it was a simple operation, and so she simply gave me a transfer sheet 于是给我开了转院单. 我带着那张单子和没有被强行留在校医院摧残的庆幸,清晨四点多到北医三院的耳鼻喉科去排队、I registered, and I started queuing, then I waited until an old doctor inserted a very long needle inside my ear-hole, and pierced my eardrum, pierced wha separated me from the world’s atmosphere.

I didn’t even feel the pain of the operation in my imagination, and when I came out of the hospital building, I found that I had discovered a whole new world: it was so clear, and from clarity so sharp, and from this sharpness so very different. I could clearly feel that, after it was pierce, my right ear completely opened to the world outside my body, and it greedily absorbed all the sounds from it: car sounds, conversation sounds, step sounds, shouting sounds… together with all their impurities. 对我来说,声音从另外一个意义上活了过来,被重新定义,这是耳朵的一次苏醒,在苏醒的耳朵里面,the sounds began their dance.

I went to a little snack stand opposite the hospital, I picked a window seat, and slowly ate a bowl of wonton soup, not only with my mouth, but also with my ears: I could hear the sound of my own chewing which I’d never noticed before, the grinding of my teeth on the food, and the slight ringing of my throat when I swallowed. 那时一场宿雪未化,on the bus back, I could hear the friction of the tires on the ice-covered road, the driver’s seat creaking and screeching, the conductor sniffling, and a conversation among young people which they did not consider private; I could hear the window pane sending off minor bumps and vibrations, a person rhythmically pounding their finger on their knee, the heavy breathing of an old woman back from grocery shopping; I heard the music of all things interweaving.

If someone had noticed me then, what they would have seen is a strange passenger on the bus with their body tilted to the right.

As all of us do, before this: although we naturally and instinctively receive the sounds of the world, we feel that we hear them, but we don’t actually hear, 就像我们成千上万次地看,但很多时候从未看见一样。这令人想起《阿凡达》里那句著名的:I See You。我看见你,我—看见—你。又或者韩国导演李沧东的电影《诗》里类似的情节:in the poetry lesson, the teacher, holding an apple, asks the students: how many times have you actually seen an apple? One thousand times? Ten thousand times? A million times? Wrong: you have never seen an apple. 它们的指向同一个重点,in the act of seeing and hearing, our eyes and ears are no longer just physical organs, but they finally communicate with the soul, mind, and sensing self. Ancestral wisdom has long pointed to that road to the self, as in the Bible, when God said, let there be light, and there was light; 就像王阳明说:“你未看此花时,此花与汝同归于寂;你来看此花时,则此花颜色一时明白起来。”It is not through God creating light, but God become aware that there is light, and naming the light, that light can exist in our consciousness. We mortals are like this, only the things that we become aware of by seeing and listening can become light and flowers.

After this event, I became more and more sensitive to sounds, not just that I paid more attention than before to the precise details of sounds, but I also paid more attention to what hid behind them, such as the emotions that the sounds brought up, whether I had experienced them before, whether I could easily replicate them, etc. More specifically, late at night, when a small truck full of building materials passed in front of my window, I gradually stopped feeling disturbed by it, but I carefully listened to the engine, and the sequence of sounds made by the tires’s friction on the road, from the sound of brief conversations, I speculated on the mental and emotional state of the drivers, and tried to figure out his mood on this night he wasn’t sleeping. I was pleasantly surprised to discover, at this moment, that all the sounds in the chaos had reached a sort of narrative order, that the sounds themselves had become the contents of the story, and therefore constructed the most true-to-nature scenes of life.

I also started to often rely on my ears to interpret others and myself. This of course is full of risk, but the risk is also interesting. 电话使我这种辨识的安全得以实现,I’ve alwasy liked to listen intently to each word pronounced on the phone, and make efforts to get all the information contained in the tone of voice, 并推而广之来测知他身处何地,大概正在做什么。These judgements and speculations based on sounds were sometimes true, but sometimes imaginary. The danger of it is, 我也比以往更容易陷入烦躁、愤怒、不屑、冷笑和无所谓等种种冷漠心境,语言上虽一如往常,可情绪依然跑到了十万八千里。

One year, my mobile phone got a problem, and on my new phone, the voices I was familiar with had changed. The first call I made after changing phones was to my father. The voice of my father as I heard it in the phone was abnormally foreign, and after being stunned for a short time, I quickly said a few words and hung up. The change in my father’s voice made me lose the sense of reality, and brought up a kind of entirely new panic: someone was pretending to be my father, and I had to pretend that nothing happened; or my father was trying to pass as someone else, and I should not expose him. It was as if a huge black hole had suddenly appeared in the world, and swallowed everything related to me in its big wide mouth. I quickly hung up the phone and went out, panting, then called back home from a public phone, 正当我以为万物归宗,everything would be back to normal, 父亲将重新变成那个熟悉的人的时候,but another accident happened – what I heard on the public phone receiver was a woman’s voice, which after a second of silence I recognised as my mother’s. 我清楚地知道刚才是父亲,但那个电话的后遗症却始终难以彻底消除:打电话时父亲去哪里了?刚才是不是他的声音?

After hanging up the phone again, I sat down on a bench for a long time. 心想自己和父亲的这次谈话可能是最游离的一次,同时,也可能是最昭示当时父子关系本质的一次,竟然是通过声音的意外改变来抵达的。Changes in life have made it so that my father and I on many many topics can no longer exchange as we used to, but neither of us will admit it. 我必须从现在迅速回撤,尽最大能力回到他们适应的那种交流方式中,以保证关系的稳固。这和父子间的感情是两回事。推衍到极端便是,当你在最广和最深的程度上理解了一个人的时候,便很难在与他有深入的交谈了,因为他的所有疑问在你那里都不成为疑问,而你的任何一个问题他都会答非所问。This may also explain a similar problem: 最激动人心的爱情永远是发生在双方不甚了解的阶段的,因为那时候的交流是最有效、涵义最丰富、可能性最多的时候。Or to put it otherwise, in the realm of human emotions, only those exchanges full of imagination can be the most charming.

Sounds can be described in a variety of ways, and even when recorded with the latest technology, they remain elusive. Sound is not simple vibrations of the air, 它凝固着发声那一刻的所有信息,录下一段声音,哪怕你用最先进的方式保存它,after a few decades have passed, if you listen to it again, you can still hear the traces of the time that passed. What’s more, 这些先进的技术并不能保证它传播或录下了你以为的自己。读硕士时,导师在一次课上说,he didn’t like to use a microphone for his lectures, he was even a bit afraid that, because the microphone amplified and exaggerated his voice, this voice would not be his original voice. 前几天,老婆学校里做公开课,并且录了光盘,之后老婆一边看光盘一边把讲课的内容整理成文字。她觉得自己的录像中的声音很奇怪,听起来很别扭。“I didn’t know my voice sounded like this.” Of course she knew (had heard) her own voice, but only from that internal form of listening to oneself, she had never heard her voice as it was when recorded and broadcast again through a separate medium. Within our own consciousness, we hear our own voice from the inside, and form a strong sense of it this way; this is also a part of ourselves, and therefore, when the facts tell us that our own voice is not as we thought it was, inevitably, this causes some fissure in our sense of self.

I still remember the first time I ate an apple. I was about ten or twelve at the time, and a distant uncle had brought back two boxes of fruit from a wholesale place far away, and he divided them among his nephews and nieces, giving them one apple per person. We looked at it, it was so tempting, but at the same time so precious, we didn’t know if we should bite into it, and destroy such perfect food. But it’s perfection would only be achieved with a bite, and so we bit. That first crisp biting sound has always remained; I’ve eaten many apples since, but I’ve never heard a sound like that first one. Now, 现在,我能知道声音穿过了它的物理性质,the reason this first biting sound was so particular is that is when the real contact with the apple occurred: with that experience of eating an apple, it was the first time that apples came to existence for me, and some gap in me had been filled.

细细想起来,对这声音的记忆和执着,不过来自了解自己和世界的欲望。只有说出的,在才能通过耳朵,而在心里成为现实。That is why people are so concerned about hearing a baby’s first cry, the first word it utters clearly, the first time it says ‘mum’ and ‘dad’… all of these first times are like God naming things for the first time, 悠然一下存在了我们的意识里。只可惜更多的时候我们对自己不但无知,而且毫不在意。在拥有或试图拥有世俗的一切时,我们假装这就够了,不再需要其他东西,比如深深地知道自己是何等的卑微,比如从心里生出作为人的感情。我们把自己全部交付给身外之物,吃喝玩乐,浅薄的喜怒和悲哀,生活当然要靠它们支撑,可在灵魂深处总得保有小小的一片领地,给那个你未曾听见、也未曾看见的自己。自己,我们说得最多的言辞,我们遍寻而不得的那个人,我把这看做唯一可抵达灵魂安宁的路,作为平凡人,总有要有这么小小的一块地方,以免在将来老去,濒临死亡的那一刻,我们会发现无处立足。

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Source : My1510, 18 December 2012


About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org