Title Slide (Slide 1)
Attuning Phonophobia is an immersive journey—one whose aural elements are beautifully wrought as the author blends solid research within a narrative framework. In exploring their own journey with sound, the writer just as adeptly takes the listener on an immersive exploration—skillfully melding words and sounds to develop mental pictures and emotive moments that serve to flesh out the message of the piece.
The piece is framed by the writer’s memories of riding a bike to school and listening to music from a CD player—a sensation and experience known to many. It’s the seemingly innocuous entry point that leads to complex discussion of sonic interaction in our everyday lives.
The writer reminds the audience that listening involves more than just the input of sound—that it affects our physical and emotional states. So, too, does the author’s sonic narrative.
In their discussion of classrooms
and hallways, the author unpacks what it means to live with sensitivity to sound and extends the discussion to one of neurodiversity in general.
The anxiety of what they describe as “mounting sensory input” is reflected
in the abject beating of a heart,
the cacophony of cymbals. The listener begins to join in that visceral experience of what the writer describes as “being in the middle of the sounds.” Like the writer, we, the listeners, do not just “hear the sound,” we “feel its noise.”
As the piece progresses with its deft mix of narrative and research, the writer explores the alienation of their sensitivity to sound and finds empowerment in silence. However, the message is broader than one of self-discovery. As the audience continues with the writer on the journey through sound and word imagery, they, too, are challenged to consider how they might better attune themselves—whether they self-describe as neurodiverse or not.
While most journeys come to an end—this does as well with the clicking noise of the bicycle chains and electronic hum of the CD player that accompanies the author on their trip.
Still, the effect of the work is not to close this discussion
but to leave it swinging open as a beginning—a beginning of awareness, of conversation, of the field of study called sonic rhetoric, of the complexity of what it means to be human in all our varieties and subtleties and nuances.
Attuning Phonophobia does not simply challenge listeners to contemplate how sound affects humans’ physical and emotional states, it immerses them in that very phenomenon. And that is definitely a journey worth taking.