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Growing older exposes me to new experiences, often unexpected experiences, that make me wonder what I’ve actually been paying attention to, all these years.
Hearing, for example.
As a journalist for most of my life, I’ve needed to hear exactly what people were saying. When quoting people in the public eye, it’s not good enough to print what I think they might have said.
There’s a huge difference between, say, “prosecution” and “prostitution.”
But as I have aged, my hearing has declined. So I wear hearing aids.
When I remember them, that is. I didn’t remember them for a recent gathering. I tried to catch, and translate into comprehension, various people’s comments. But I found the extra effort tiring.
So I tried listening a different way. To the sounds, the tones, the rhythms of speech around the room.
It was like listening to music.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: hearing, music, deafness
I’ve never heard a snowflake fall. It must make a sound, even if, as an Asian parable says, a snowflake weighs “Nothing, or less than nothing.” And yet there must be a point of contact, and with it, a sound, however slight.
Even if human ears are not sensitive enough to hear it.
I can’t hear a worm, burrowing through moist soil towards a dew-dappled lawn. But a robin can.
A dog can hear a whistle way above my frequency range; at the other end of the frequency scale, elephants use a sub-audible rumble to communicate with other elephants out of sight over the horizon.
In her book, A God That Could Be Real,author Nancy Ellen Abrams explores some implications of our human limitations. We can only comprehend things that fall within a certain size range, she asserts, relative to our own size.
Tags: God, hearing, sight, Nancy Ellen Abrams, perceptions, A God That Could Be Real
The mallet raps gently against the rim of the bowl. The bowl rings, sings, high and clear.
The sound slowly fades. Do I still hear it? Or do I just imagine that I still hear it? Sound consists of molecules of air vibrating against each other; I know their ripples continue to spread and interact, even when they are no longer audible to my ears.
There is no clear break between hearing and not-hearing. Between tasting and not-tasting. The boundaries blur.
Tags: hearing, Senses, sight, touch. taste, touch, memory
Why would most of us rather attend a live concert than listen to a recording – even though the recording may be technically superior? Why do we go to hockey games, when we can see the puck better on TV?
A deaf percussionist offers some answers.
Dame Evelyn Glennie can hear next to nothing through her ears. But when she performs with an orchestra, she has to know when the trombones blare, when the violins sing. She says that she feels the vibrations. Through her bare feet. Through her skin. Through her internal organs. Different parts of her body resonate to different frequencies.
"The whole body's like a huge ear," Glennie says. "It's as simple as that."
Tags: listening, Evelyn Glennie, hearing, deaf