in the aeroplane over the sea

For some strange reason, after a CD has finished playing on my old rotary changer 3-disc Philips 'Mini HiFi System', there lingers a subaudible dust, barely emitting from the stereo speakers. Often, like many albums tend to do, if the last song is a fade out or has its own few seconds of recorded silence, the moment between the music and this sound is imperceptible. Some time later, the unit automatically goes into standby, and the sound stops then, but by this time I cannot usually tell, for it has merged with the ambience of my room, or the seashells in my ears. Such times, an ocean of sound opens itself up to me as this leaking dust settles around the room, and what I hear is that vast expanse of 'noise', continuous, anonymous and everpresent, that makes up the greater majority of vibrations in our world. Music and speech are only ever temporary dilations of this greater sound-in-the-world, and it's the latter that so often we find hard to hear. Certain stimuli, however, like this soft hiss, sit at the interstices, forming a tissue, a ridge, between what we call sound (laughter, rain hitting the tin roof, wind, Lift yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven!) and noise - but not noise as we usually think of it, as a disruptive and redundant phenomenon, the crackling as a phone signal drops out, the murmur of a crowd before the band strikes up. I'm thinking of someting closer to what we might call white noise - the odd sound of the snow fuzz that clawed at the sides of properly tuned television sets (digital televisual noise is more frustrating, just blocky chunks of missing sound), even the piercing internal acoustic of a migraine, both sounds that seem like they're always there but only reveal themselves to us every now and then. Because contrary to popular belief, it is not noise that disrupts meaningful sound, but sound that must be ripped from the ground that is noise, that vast entity; it is sound that must be forged in the crucible of noise. Sometimes we hear things like this semiaural dust - I can think of no better word, for dust is everywhere - that is both sound and noise, or the afterlives of sound as it returns to noise, or the prenatal moment of sound as it is emerges from noise's cradle. My CD player has a timbre like the tide, but its horizon is ever vaster.

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