Escape from Ourselves

This week’s readings offered some interesting perspectives on something we don’t often stop to think about: the sense of sound. As Krause put it, we are so visually oriented that we often use visual language to describe the qualities of sound (like when we call a piece of music dark or bright). Our sense of hearing is something we rely on daily but rarely do we stop to appreciate it for the pleasure it brings us, or the serious affect it has on our mood. 

I was intrigued by this idea and the idea of “soundscapes”. The readings made me think about the times in my life I have felt the most relaxed and at peace, and how almost always, I was surrounded by the sounds of nature. Industrial clamor and traffic noise provides a constant backdrop for my daily life, drowning out the once familiar and comforting sounds of birdsong, wind in the trees, insects chirping. As I write this essay, my sense of hearing is bombarded with car engines starting, distant construction projects, lawnmowers, and underlying it all, the low, constant hum of human activity. Over time, I’ve learned to block these sounds out, but until only until I escape into the mountains and am reminded of the freedom and relief that comes with the absence of this cacophony. Or perhaps more accurately, the presence of the quieter sounds that exist underneath it. 

Maybe these sounds of the Anthropocene are a result of the human notion that we are separate from nature, that we should “claim dominion” over nature. But within each of us, there exists a craving to escape the dominion we have created and return to the connection from which we came. How can we reconcile these two worlds?