I remember a friend in LA comparing the sound of the freeway traffic to that of a running river, a background roar. Soft, constant, and inescapable in the urban sprawl. When she described it thus, I thought it a comforting presence. A simulacra to satisfy the biological need for water, but replaced by the constant flow of human lives encased in moving machinery.
Then I moved out here, to the blank spot 20 minutes from the nearest freeway, and 10 minutes from the nearest asphalt road. Here I realized how synthetic the simulacra really was. The contestant soft grinding of tire on concrete is white noise. White noise cancels out all other noises, mixing the hues of tones into one. One constant, neutralized, whitish grey.
Here, there is noise, and there is silence, and there is noise. But it is never white. And the palette of sound changes one night to the next. One night the wind blows cold blue over the gold yellow of long reeds of grass. The next, bows of the brown purple branches rub against the white green strings of the spanish moss. Depending on the evening, there are gentle burgundy percussive crescendos of animals passing the house, the kining of cows, deer footfalls, or coyote pack-howls, typically followed by the bright-orange symbol of dog baying do drive the intruders to a safe distance from our home.
Thing is, the sounds don’t cancel each other out. They don’t mix to a neutral. They emphasized and complement each other, as it is not in natures best interest to fill space and silence with sense-numbing stimuli. One must hear every entity, the benign and the malignant, to find one’s place among them.