Preamble – Silence vs Absense of Sound

We misunderstand silence as the absence of sound, but absence is the exceptional case. You can take your point of reference out of house, building, street, town, region or country, moving with disembodied speed past roaring wide-body jets, up to and beyond the reach of chirping communications satellites gleaming majestically in their isochronic orbits, away from this blue ball into the immense ocean of solar particles, meteors and clumps of dumb mass; and then imagine another logarithmic shift as your view leaves the sun’s sphere of influence for darker and colder realms of galactic space, gooey at these speeds with a vast, loose foam of dark energy and darker matter, then faster, out of the galaxy and into the still not empty space that lies fallow between galaxies and among galaxy clusters, until you have moved so far away, so quickly, that the unfathomable reaches of these billions upon billions of burning spheres become nothing more than tiny buckets, from which an occasional smattering of photons jump like flashes from a cosmic sparkler. There, in that Kelvinian stillness, you might begin to understand absence.

But here, you lie crumpled on the floor in a hot, humid, motionless room, with air that seems to swirl above you like milk in coffee. You tell yourself that you are alone and you believe you lie in a silent room. Yet noise is echoed from afar and filters in all around you: the rumble of tires slapping pavement, the patter of accelerating engines, and the bass booms of competing car stereos. The air exhales from your lungs with a soft whoosh, moist and sticky, and comes right back in with an empty rushing sound. The wicked muscle in your chest pops off like an engine that won’t stop sputtering, followed by the rush of a chokingly thick liquid, a one-two foomp that fills your ears: the pounding that inspired Poe but seems a bittersweet torture to you. There is no doubt that, if the cacophony should end of its own, your ears themselves would begin to ring or whirr, driven to perceive something — anything — until sensation ends completely.