Visions and Sounds

Sight and sound are equally important in the way we experience the world, yet the visual dominates.

Sound has an important role to play in nature and human societies. From the bird song that breaks out to let us know dawn of a new day has begun, the use of drums by some cultures as a form of aural communication, and the songs we sing to accompany of life’s journeys, to the speeches made by orators that move us by their words alone. What we hear influences how we feel and what we do.

As technology has advanced, the world has become an increasingly noisy, confusing and disturbing place. However, the visual still overides the sound. Social media has reinforced the visual with Instagram, Snapchat and even Facebook focusing on it. How many reading this have tried the filters on them, or the new age app to see how we will look when older? YouTube is about the moving image, but it is still more watching than listening that dominates it. Furthermore, loosing our eyesight is seen as far worse than our other senses – research found in medical students almost 60% considered blindness worse than deafness while only about 6% considered deafness worse. Yet, we can buy a pair of reading glasses from a supermarket for our eyes, why is it not that simple for our hearing?

We live in a world of fake and manipulated images, so how can we believe what we see as real? Equally, what we hear is just as fake – from the latest pop song that the vocals maybe the vocalist’s own mixed with others then autotune to produce the voice we hear streamed in our ears, to the mainstream news stories told by reporters as fact but maybe spun or based on slight truths. In many ways we live in George Orwell’s 1984: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

Perhaps we let visual dominate as we like to see the world through rose tinted glasses, and by listening we are forced to hear things we may not want to. Equally, by listening properly we have to engage in a way we are forgetting, as have become too addicted to the little black mirror that has more technology in it than took a man to the moon fifty years ago.

So what can we do? Use all our senses, not just our vision and hearing. “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” Roy T. Bennett,

© Fi S. J. Brown

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Room 101

You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world” – with these words come from author George Orwell in his famous dystopic novel 1984, which I highly recommend any reader who has never read it to do so, or re-read it as always find something new when I do.

Earlier today I watched Northern Ballet’s production of it on BBC 4, which was excellent. I remembered listening to Nick Hancock on BBC Radio 5 show, which has subsequently become a highly successful TV series, called Room 101. The radio show had the guest to nominate their “least favourite people, places and pop songs” in order to have them consigned to Room 101, and it was up to Nick to decide if they should or should not go in. I decided to follow this model but extend to my least favourite people, place, objects and music.

For my least favourite people it was very clear to me who I would put in – those that hurt others (particularly with no remorse or guilt) be they human, scales, fur or feather. I cannot understand or tolerate abuse be it sexual, physical, mental or emotional of another, there is enough darkness in the world, why add to it? I maybe highly empathetic, but cannot understand how someone finds joy in it.

For my least favourite place initially I was uncertain but then it came to me – Los Angeles. Now I do not mean any offence to anyone from or lives there, but to me it seems so fake and artificial based on false promises and dreams, full of lost souls, where few ever get the gold ticket without insider genetics or contacts, and contracts that would make even old Lucifer raise a smile for a decade or more.

For my least favourite object it becomes tricky as between several. My initial one was escalators, as I fell top to bottom on one as a small child when the lady in front stopped in the middle top to talk to her friend with nowhere for me to go but down! However, I also considered unnecessary chemicals used on our bodies in creams to deodorants or in our foods, particularly as additives or preservatives.

Finally, for my least favourite music. As someone who openly admits to being something of a musicnut and open minded to hearing old or new songs across all the genres I find this hard but easy. I would not single out a particular genre as there are exceptions to rules in all things in life, including music. Instead I would pick unnecessary booming beats or autotuning a piece so much it loses colour and life.

What about you dear reader, do you agree with me? What person or people, place(s), object and music should be in Room 101? As we all to often think about what we like but do not always consider the power of what we dislike and what it says about us as people. Hate is a strong emotion that we throw about without considering its powers, as along with love every other emotion seems to stem from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown