a collection of quiet thoughts25 August 2017
For as long as I can remember, I have not screamed. I suppose I must have screamed as an infant – my parents would surely have told me by now if I had only mimed being a baby. Since then, however, I have been plagued by my own inability to create and send out decibels. It’s not that I’ve tried particularly hard, but the very concept seems impossible. Here’s how I imagine it goes:
1. you take in a deep breath
2. you open your mouth up, as wide as you can make it, and then –
4. your own body, your own collection of atoms, is releasing energy in the form of sound, your existence pierces through the air in sound waves, shrill and fierce, like wineglasses thrown against a wall, like a thousand cymbals tumbling from skyscrapers, like the sound lightning (lightning, not thunder) would make as it speared the earth.
On school camp, we got to go on the giant swing. You’re harnessed up and everyone else has to hoist you up to the sky before you’re dropped back down again. On my camp, everyone else shrieked as they went down. I, however, stayed silent, just the wind howling around me. Of course, my classmates holding onto the tether keeping me alive couldn’t hear the wind’s scream and so I was just a girl falling through the air with no sound at all.
(maybe it would work underwater)
For a long time, I’ve felt that I need to go somewhere alone in the mountains to practise where nobody would hear me; kind of like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music but instead of throwing my arms open to burst into song I would just SCREAM INTO THE VOID.
(what is step three? oh god)
Speaking of screaming into the void –
On bad days, I wish I could scream more than ever. I’d like nothing more than a tunnel descending into hell to appear in my bedroom floor, or perhaps for my wardrobe to suddenly open up to somewhere much colder than Narnia, and then I would scream forever into either of those places. One time I googled ‘scream into the void’ just to see what my options were, and there is indeed a website screamintothevoid.com which was made by comedian/political talk show host John Oliver. You type something in, some sort of problem or an angry poem or whatever, press a red button that says ‘SCREAM’ and then the text pisses off into a black background so you can’t see it anymore. This doesn’t really help, but it’s comforting to know that other people want the same thing as me. I guess I could’ve gotten this information more easily from Edvard Munch but it’s too late now. John Oliver got there first.
I am lying to you, I’m afraid. I can manage a scream but only through a textual medium, it’s called all-caps and it goes like this: HOLY SHIT WHY DO I NEVER SCREAM?
At concerts when they say, “Let’s hear you make some noise!” I never know what to do with myself. I especially don’t know what to do with my vocal cords. I guess maybe in those moments I just clap, although I can’t quite remember. When I play it back in my mind I can only envisage myself as a statue of an animal sitting in the middle of a concert, which animal it is changes each time. Not being able to scream can be a tragedy sometimes you know.
(supposedly if you’re being attacked, you’re meant to scream, “fire!” because people are more likely to come running for that. i guess it’s true that fire is a tragedy too)
I believe the word ‘scream’ should in reality just be ‘screa’. The ‘m’ implies far too much gentleness, and far too much completeness. As though a scream could ever tell a whole story on its own.