listening to the dead

So how do we listen to the dead? The dead have spoken over wires laid across long distances, the wires picking up the 'dawn chorus' of very low frequency (vlf) radio, that appears around 4 a.m. in the morning. I think WWI field telephones were susceptible. In NYC the problem is the power grid; we're contaminated by radiation from all directions (as Marko has pointed out). You might find a silent spot somewhere inside your apartment, but you'd need a Faraday cage to weed out the electromagnetic buzz - and then you'd have your dead zone, but no dead. So you want to record signals that are either on top of the 60 hz buzz, or that appear if and when the buzz is cancelled out. I picked up faint crackles at one point in Brooklyn with the magnetic field antenna at a particular orientation. There's also the possibility of going out somewhere on one of the piers - but the grid follows you there, follows you everywhere. 

The dead are drowned out.

The dead are unbelievably drowned out; they're subject to the violence of Lyotard's differend - there's no recourse where and when there's no communication.

They have to be coaxed back in.

They're deaf to the coaxing.

You'd have to set up the apparatus in spite of them, without their presence, without texting them. You'd have to surround them where they're not, where they don't exist. You'd have to ignore their absence.

Think hungry ghosts or red dust in Times Square. That's what you have to deal with.

So it's a matter of projection and belief that they're present at all. They're not going to help you on this journey.

They don't know you're traveling. They couldn't care less. It's of no concern to them. They're obliterated by the power grid, by the machinery, even the hatching of sparks as steel strikes steel perhaps somewhere deep underground. They know about the radio.

They know about the radio. They know something's amiss. Digital television holds no interest for them, angry buzzing in need of interpretation, more machinery. They get the radio. You're waiting, writhing, writing your wires above-ground, under-ground; you're loading them up, the coils, amplifiers, power sources. You want to use crystal radio, but at these frequencies, the frequencies of the dead, better ignore the huge antennas, better deal with something lean and portable. You want to feed the signals.

You want to feed the signals into something starting small, then expanding. You need power for that, batteries that don't add alternating current, sine-waves for example, to the noise everywhere. Then you'll feed into digital or analog, you'll save everything for analysis. You'll save everything for the listening of it, which is the meaning of listening to the dead - it will take a while, it's not going to happen all at once. 

What is it in the middle of the night that you feel, this huge pressure against you, holding you back and paralyzed against the sheets, pressure and the word of pressure, they so much want to tell you, want this speech, this one word of pressure, always misinterpre-ted? You feel you can't get anywhere with this, the misery of it.

Then you remember what you heard, years ago, and they were coming towards you from that time on, they knew that you knew, they've been waiting ever since.


People: Alan Sondheim
Research: Sound
Tags: sound, dead