Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bird! ... I think...

This doodle is one of my favorites, possibly because it involves trees and birds, or because the sound of a bird is so distinct and clear that using it for inquiry is easy.  Or at least it should be!

There are plenty of birds around to help me with this one, including the peacocks caw-caw-ing loudly a few houses away.  The sound is sharp and draws my attention.  I notice that the word "bird" doesn't even comes to mind because the image that pops right up is a generic one that signifies Peacock. 

Hmm...  Ok, so the first thing I note is that there is absolutely no reason for the symbol for a peacock to come to mind except for a learned association.  There is nothing about the noise that would convey, to someone who has never even heard of a peacock, "huge iridescent feathers, large plume, or lovely shades of blue".  As a matter of fact, there's nothing in the auditory sense experience that would even say "bird".  This has to mean that somewhere along the way, that image in my mind is an entirely Pavlovian response.  But it's so strong that I'm having a hard time shaking it.  It takes effort to do this inquiry and to see the truth of things, and even when I do, it's really pretty weird to try to reconcile.  But I want to dig deeper.

So, let's dig.  I need an answer I can stake the farm on. 

Is there a bird at all?

Remembering that this inquiry is supposed to take me back prior to knowledge, and that this question should be examined in terms as simple and direct as possible, I have to admit that there is no bird inside this sound.  There is only the experience I call sound.  There isn't a shred of evidence that I'm not hearing a cat, radio, screeching children, or anything else.  The best I can say is that I BELIEVE there's a bird somewhere but all I really know for certain is that there's just sound!  There isn't anything "making" it.

And yet... peacock!

Working Questions For your own Inquiry:

Questions for Investigation:
Is there both a sound and a bird, or just the sound?  Does the bird travel inside or on top of the sound?  Where is the bird? 

Tools for Ongoing Inquiry:
Close your eyes and listen to the sound of a plane or bird.  In that moment, with closed eyes, where is the plane or bird?  Is it in the ears or is there sound simply appearing without location.   Is the bird or plane there in the view or does the image come up in imagination only?

If, in addition to hearing the sound you can see the bird or plane, what connects the sound and the image? 

Are they connected through thought and imagination or is there an actual physical connection there?  Is there a tether, string, or chord?  Is thought the connector?

Can a sound (chirp) be seen (image)?


  1. Great deconstruction Delma! Those that read it should find it as a helpful model/example as to how to go about conducting their own step-by-step deconstruction of ANY sound or image. I especially like how you point out that the sound itself contains no bird! Of course, like all deconstructions this must be confirmed in one's own direct experience (usually repeatedly). Also I like how you point out that sound and color never touch. It's a thought that seems to "pair" them. But for who?? I find no one here. -Michael

  2. Hello, Michael.

    Can you say more about color and sound not touching? I know that there's a lot more that can be done with that inquiry. Do you have a particular in which way you like to begin to approach it?

    Thank you!

  3. Hi Delma!

    Yes, sound and color in life never touch... sound is always sound, color is always color. For instance, on a movie sound track, there is one track for the images and one for the audio (and there can be even more, like another for music, etc.) The tracks exist independently, but when they come together they "create an illusion" of what we call a movie (a play of sound and light!), which we are able to watch and get lost in.

    However, when the movie projector gets out of whack, the picture and sound are no longer in sync, which completely destroys the illusion. For example, imagine james bond attempting to negotiate the release of a hostage with some bad guys while all have their guns drawn. A very tense situation. However, now imagine the same scene with the sound out of sync so the dialogue coming out of there mouth is no longer in sync, but off by just a couple of seconds. How realistic would the scene feel then? Not very. In fact, most people's reaction would be laughter at seeing what is suppose to be a heavy, serious scene suddenly become unbelieveable and even comical. The scene no longer "makes sense" and thus can't be taken seriously.

    Note that it's not the sound or the color that gives meaning to whatever we are seeing (as sound and color are inherently meaningless! This must be confirmed in DE), but our mind's belief/perception/ability to give meaning to things. How does this happen? In other words, what is responsible for giving meaning to objects (be they auditory or visual in nature)? The mind. How? I haven't a clue. But just being aware of this somehow helps loosen the belief in taking the dream world seriously. A mysterious and undefinable (and ultimately unknowable) play of light and sound... for no one.


    1. Well, it looks like my comment to you has disappeared, so I'll start again. :)

      This is an important deconstruction and is one I used to do in college as a film studies major... we'd analyze the images (shadow, lighting, set design, etc), then analyze the sound track. We were very much aware, at that point, that they were different and separate.

      The leap is to see that this is also true in "real life", and to do that we need someone to point to it, as you've so aptly done here.

      Well said. This inquiry can be taken on for any length of time.