Wednesday, 14 December 2005

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Stereoscopic Poetry; or, How the Near-Deaf Focus on Words Because I have less than no time to post tonight, I present you with interesting facts about my life culled from other places: I’m a certifiably strange listener of poetry, since when I attend readings I’m reading the poet’s lips as much as I’m listening to auditory cues. When I listen to recordings, however, I have to do so with the text memorized or in front of me, which means that my eyes are keyed to the words and my ears to the rhythm. Then there’s the article a doctor-friend of mine sent me a while back about the way children with severe hearing loss during early childhood (I was stone deaf until corrective surgery at two or three) end up with brains wired to handle language differently. From what I understand, there’s no demonstrable influence on my communication skills, only on the parts of the brain responsible for them. I can’t remember which parts, but I know the way I experience sound is different from the way other people do. For example, I “hear” noises in people’s voices that other people’s brains filter out, so what I hear when an ordinary person speaks isn’t what you hear. All of which is mere preface to this: When I listen to poetry I have the distinct impression that I’m not listening to human speech; the rhythms, the way the mouth moves, the noises other people’s brains filter out all combine to create the distinct impression that I’m listening to something speech-like, but not actual language. I have to work to snap the sounds back into language, much like when one stares at one of those magic eye stereograms--it clicks for a moment, then I have to “refocus” and it does again, ad infinitum. In other words, I could describe my experience listening to poetry to other people, but I’m not sure it’d be relevent in any meaningful way. The agonzing complement to this story can be read on Michael's blog so long as you don't mind scrolling down. (I would copy and paste it too but you should read Michael's post before reading my comment.) One day I'll take Matt and Ray's advice and place my life somewhere prestigious. For now I'll settle for snagging it when time is tight so readers don't forget about this humble blog as they celebrate the season.

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