Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sound Quote: Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

Escape is a warm pleasure. Submerged in another experience I can bring back insights to apply back in the real world. Regardless of the medium, I continue to be drawn to the way sound is represented. Whether it's movie-going, game sound studies, or just plain ambiance-soaking; when I am able, I try to practice an appreciate for the sound, and the organization and representation of sound, from artists in each of these fields.

Which brings me to the the Sound Quote series here on the Lost Chocolate Blog. I have a habit of reading books with a keen ear towards how writers choose to describe sounds. It's easy to find plot synopsis and story information for books, but assessing how people write about the ephemeral quality of air-vibrations in print continues to fascinate. Here are a few from Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, which center around the main characters relationship with a stream during the latter part of his life.

"The river flowed softly and quietly, it was the dry season, but its voice sounded strange: it laughed! It laughed clearly. The river laughed, it laughed brightly and clearly at the old ferryman. Siddhartha stopped, he bent over the water, in order to hear even better, and he saw his face reflected in the quietly moving waters, and in this reflected face there was something, which reminded him, something he had forgotten, and as he thought about it, he found it: this face resembled another face, which he used to know and love and also fear.

"You've heard it laugh," he said. "But you haven't heard everything. Let's listen, you'll hear more."

The river sang with a voice of suffering, longingly it sang, longingly, it flowed towards its goal, lamentingly its voice sang.

Siddhartha listened. He was now nothing but a listener, completely concentrated on listening, completely empty, he felt, that he had now finished learning to listen. Often before, he had heard all this, these many voices in the river, today it sounded new. Already, he could no longer tell the many voices apart, not the happy ones from the weeping ones, not the ones of children from those of men, they all belonged together, the lamentation of yearning and the laughter of the knowledgeable one, the scream of rage and the moaning of the dying ones, everything was one, everything was intertwined and connected, entangled a thousand times. And everything together, all voices, all goals, all yearning, all suffering, all pleasure, all that was good and evil, all of this together was the world. All of it together was the flow of events, was the music of life. And when Siddhartha was listening attentively to this river, this song of a thousand voices, when he neither listened to the suffering nor the laughter, when he did not tie his soul to any particular voice and submerged his self into it, but when he heard them all, perceived the whole, the oneness, then the great song of the thousand voices consisted of a single word, which was Om: the perfection."

Herman Hesse is one of the authors I continue to come back to. Whether it's because of his book 'Damien' which comes close in spelling to my name, or because of  the struggling artist theme that seems to run throughout books like Gertrude and Steppenwolf, his writing continues to reveal insight throughout my life.

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