By That One Deaf Music Critic
Recently while watching Yorgos Lanthimos’s film, ‘The Lobster’ (a fantastic film, by the way, that I highly recommend), I was struck by the fact that there was almost no audio in the scene that I was watching. There was no speech, no music playing, and the background sounds were so quiet and simple and natural so as to be imperceptible. On the one hand, this shows an impressive bit of work having been done by the foley artist in question, Ronnie van der Veer, but it also spoke to the effectiveness of the editing of the film. Sometimes it’s when you don’t notice something that it means that that particular thing has been done well.
Now, a fact about my hearing loss would probably help for the discussion of this topic. I get used to not hearing anything, at times. Lack of noise is not a thing that I am surprised by, nor is it something that I necessarily notice. It is only ever the presence of another noise, or signifiers, that make me aware that I’m not hearing something. It is the audio around the silence in a song that makes me aware of the silence. It is the movement of someone’s lips, or the sight of something moving, that makes me aware that I’m not hearing something that I should be hearing. Or it’s just someone turning to me in a fit of forgetfulness, asking a deaf man, about a faint noise that they can hear, ‘do you hear that?’ I’ll be honest, sometimes I pretend to be straining to hear it and wait for them to remember that I’m deaf instead of just telling them that I can’t hear the noise. You need to find a way to have fun with things that happen often, right? Spice up the routine.
The point is, to try and make this column about something, that sometimes I don’t notice silence. But, then, do you? How can you hear silence? In the same way that you can’t see something that isn’t there, you can’t hear the lack of noise. I praise the film for its usage of silence, something that is utilised sparingly in films, but is my recognition of it a good thing or a bad thing? Or am I genuinely that self-obsessed that I manage to make almost everything about my hearing loss by watching a movie and then wondering if I’m missing something due to my hearing loss. Or, and this is entirely possible, did I just have the sound down too low for me to hear whatever music or sound was soundtracking the scene? Entirely possible given that I was watching the movie on my laptop, on a plane, next to a stranger, and had just turned down the volume after a particularly prolonged screaming scene that involved a fair amount of side-eye from said stranger next to me.
And here I was trying to make a point out of my own idiocy.