This post is part of a series: Adalbert Arcane’s expanded Notes & Theories to Beta Testing the Ongoing Apocalypse (by Tom Kaczynski, Fantagraphics, 2022). This time we have Adalbert’s notes to three short sound-themed strips: White Noise, Noise, A History, Hotel Silencio. All posts in this series can be accessed here.
“The eternal silence of infinite spaces frightens me.”Pascal
When creating this story, the author claims he was unaware of Don DeLillo’s novel with the same title (see Hotel Silencio and Noise, a History).
NOISE, A HISTORY
Noise, a History was written and drawn before Music for Neanderthals. This one page distills the author’s interest in the development of sound, noise, and other auditory phenomena. One can imagine the Big Bang, the silent explosion of our universe into being, as containing all the sounds of the universe. Think of white light comprising all the visible and invisible spectrum colors. Noise, A History, functions as a signal detector filter that isolates specific notes and harmonies from the noise of the Big Bang.
When you add all the sounds together, do you get silence? Or a massive cacophony? We are constantly detecting new sounds produced by that ur-explosion. The history of civilization is discovering and manufacturing new auditory phenomena and the privatization of sound.
“In the absence of sound, you become the sound.”https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/orfield-labs-quietchamber
The quietest room in the world is in Minnesota, approximately five minutes from where the author currently lives. The story was written before the author moved into the area. It is unknown if he moved to be closer to the anechoic chamber. The experience inside the room is described as maddening.
It is surprising how much humans rely on principles of echolocation for their stability and their relationship to the world. It has recently been discovered [ 1 ] that memories are spatial. Our selves are built from accrued layers of spatially tagged memories—we are a memory palace. We exist in a personal echo chamber that constantly depends on outside sound to orient itself on the principle of echolocation.
The ambient sound of the world (see White Noise) acts as an aetheric substance that allows us to move through the world by orienting via sound and vision. It allows us to be outward-oriented, following the sounds and sights of the world or the desiring machine. This is also known as a ‘body without organs’ in Deleuzian terms.
That relationship is fundamentally broken when you ‘become the sound’ inside the anechoic chamber. The sound of your internal organs reminds you that there’s no there, there. There’s nothing to anchor you to the outside. The phone call (of your consciousness) is coming from inside the house! The desiring machine breaks down. You become ‘organ without body’… analogous to a schizophrenic steaming mass of microbial life arranged in shapes and patterns; a chattering miasmic fluid; a viscous semi-liquid bag of mostly water with skin stretched tight like a drum. Who is playing the drum?
[ 1 ] “Your Mind is a Vast Landscape” by Adalbert Arcane in Cartoon Dialectics #2, Uncivilized Books, 2020
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