True Sounds / by James Reese

how many gut noises do you make a day?

I was sitting outside once after work and when I was eating my sandwich, I made an involuntary “mmph” of pleasure at the taste and enjoyment of it. upon noticing this, this thought emerged ^

most of the sounds and gestures we make today are so far from our gut feelings– those cries and moans, beating guttural whispers involuntary when we are feeding, or hungry, in terror or in pleasure. when we fly or fuck or feast, mourn. Where did those noises go? surely they are still there, in the corner of our days.

on the whole, however, it is with a touch of regret that I sit through and participate in everyday text exchanges and vocal conversations. the nuance of it feels removed from the expressive clarity that comes with body language and explicit vocalizations. the game of written language in its nuance is still a system of gestures– each phrase and word referring to another in their relationships of differences– but altogether, despite its complexity, it does not seem to satisfy observation and experience more than what is unspokenly or raw-ly shared between the participants and observers of reality. written language (and subsequently, our speaking of it) does not seem to reach successfully beyond the expressive capability of these gut sounds.

when I first dwelt on this, my first morbid thought was of torture. of real pain that drives every (English) word from a person, stripping them to the purest of cries. I know this in grief and extreme emotional pain– I know that involuntary vocalizations and bodily movement, even painting a painting, can better express what cannot be given adequately through prose.

of course there are many more trails this thread could lead to, but mainly I reflect with frustration upon how much of what i share in daily communication is so far removed from expressing the deeply present feelings at the time. I speak in forced codes of etiquette and familiar modes of interaction, and I spend so much breath and time masking or managing the release of true expression. The words, phraseology, and syntax itself seems bitterly incapable of sharing these gut feelings, and for me it seems like the natural step to then look towards the composition of sounds and rhythms, images, and re-imagined depictions of written language in a rhythmic and imagistic capacity. Through paintings, soundscapes, and poems that all speak clearly without an ‘intellectual’ message, therein at least I can share these true sounds a little more truthfully.

pardon if this lacks exposition and further clarification, I just wanted to jot some of it down with the opportunity to return to it later (as i am sure future writings will).

continued:

a thought I had earlier concerned perception and white noise. Thinking about being in countries where you don’t speak the language– it allows conversations in your perceived sonic landscape to become background noise.

maybe this contributes to your experience of disorientation from the ‘sensible’ world, though not necessarily (always) in a negative way. chaos, energy without information… sidenote- i think the distinction between ‘sensuous’ and ‘sensible’ in our perceived reality is important when studying experience. With removed context, information loses various senses of meaning we have otherwise, and therein our experience of that information is attuned to other parts of it– ie. when I am in another country where I do not speak the language, i may focus on the inflections, on similar-sounding roots, or non-verbal cues. Maybe I will just hear the flow of the sounds, or let it blend into the background as noise while I am enabled to see/focus on other phenomena. I find this harder to do in a city where I speak the language… I am always picking up threads of conversations and being distracted by them, wholly overwhelmed by the dozens of conversations simultaneously.

With other examples of this, say in the woods listening to the birds, here too we can gather information but not meaning- at least to the untrained ear. I know not the words of birds and trees, but I am aware of their talk..

thus when we are immersed in disorienting or incoherent environments, our awareness without the satiation of comprehension has the potential to raise sensitivity even to the point of ecstasy at the wonder of the energy of the sounds and their exchanges. this kind of experience also has the potential to make us sensitive to the depths of despair at the feeling of alienation and confusion, being in a place that feels like it speaks but not to you. I think to be overwhelmed in such sensitivity brings with it the range of depths previously unfelt, and feeling the vibrant life of a place as well as your strangeness to it is a richness that can be difficult to stay with.