Trying to write something when you don’t feel like writing is potentially the hardest thing to do in the world. Well, maybe not the hardest thing. It’s not like…I don’t know, nuclear physics, or quantum physics, or any kind of physics, really.
But it’s a difficult process. It’s hard work. There is a lot of resistance that happens internally. Alot of negative voices that call out: “It’s no good! Give up!” “Let’s just go buy a bag of chips!”
My life long, faithful friends Procrastination Pete and his doppelgänger Distraction Dave show up, always on cue. “Let’s scroll through the headlines, just for a second, to see what’s new!”, they call out to me, in unison. “There’s always something new to take in, to distract us from our own thoughts!” And they’re right. There always is.
But the distractions are often fraught with even more darkness than the corners of my own mind can offer. External threats like climate change, civil unrest, war, famine… and oh yes, the pandemic, always in the background, lurking like some kind of ravenous beast, ready to feast on the worst aspects of our humanity.
It’s hard to be creative, in this funk. If I’m being honest, it’s hard to be anything. It’s hard to wake up, to get dressed, to work. It’s hard smiling behind that mask. But I still do. Even though people can’t see my smile. I still think it’s important to try. To be kind.
In order to escape the headlines and my own internal monologue, I often turn to television, like so many others, with the limited options that isolation affords.
But even television has its own perils. Hard to believe, I know. I mean, TV has probably served as my best friend ever since Thomas Magnum, Captain Jean-Luc Picard or Agents Cooper, Mulder and Scully showed up for my formative years. It may sound weird, but they helped fashion an identity for me, as surely as music did, in the form of Bowie, Zeppelin, Public Enemy or The Prodigy.
But music changes over time, as does television, or any other art form. Does it get better? Does it get worse? Or is it always a constant, rolling up and down, like ocean waves? I’m not sure. Maybe there are wider swaths of patterns rather than specific trends one can point to using complicated graphs in a powerpoint presentation.
Things feel, darker though. Not just lockdown, binge-style, narcotic grade, television. But, like, everything.
I’m hoping it’s temporary. It probably is.
I think the thing to do, is push on through. Hang on to old sayings, like Churchill’s. (When you think you’re in hell, keep going.) or maybe something anonymous – that guy always had the best quotes. He (or she, for that matter,) said “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” That’s also one of my favourites.
I’ll close on this. I think it’s probably times like these, when it’s important to try to step back and re-interpret what’s around us, to remind ourselves that we are part of a picture much larger than ourselves and perhaps that the universe is a glorious thing to be a part of. The following project I think, is a brilliant attempt to do that very thing.
Sonification is the process of translating data into sound. A new project helmed by System Sounds, based out of Toronto, seeks to re-interpret cosmic images into audio form. Here are a few examples below.
Featured photograph courtesy wikipedia.