When I’m not busy avoiding my obligations, I am finding some way to read, listen, or write. It doesn’t quite matter how I do it, I just do. Without participating in some sort of stimulation, I bite my nails to nubs. Something about music, fiction, and other art forms calms me.
I am meta-cognizant of how art affects others and myself. Which leads me to indie pop and zombie thrillers.
This weekend, I couldn’t get away from the effect music has on individuals. It hit me on the way back to Campbell this morning: with the radio turned off, I was humming. Of course, it was Lorde’s “Royals“, which is a fantastic track, and is second only to “Doin’ It Right” by Daft Punk in catchiness. Earworms hit you harder than any sound system can, and I always hum one when there is an extended period of silence. And, if you haven’t given the two songs a listen, I suggest you find them on Spotify or YouTube immediately. Music spreads like ringworm.
Going back to driving and humming, why did I feel the need to hum? What is so wrong with silence?
There’s an innate “freakiness” about silence. The Free Dictionary defines silence as “the condition or quality of being or keeping still and silent,” but this definition suggests silence is a conscious state, i.e., silence is agreed upon, and happens for a specific reason. After all, what is silence to anything without ears?
I bring this up because I saw the fantastic “World War Z” film, starring a long-haired Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, and with a cameo by Matthew Fox, who played Jack on “LOST“. In the movie, the virus (Solanum) is a blood-borne pathogen which is passed human-to-human by, you guessed it, biting. There’s a slight issue with the status of the mindless mooks climbing over themselves to reach the Jews on the other side of the wall. But let’s avoid a discussion which warrants a complete blog post.
The zombies in this film are attracted to sound, and develop very predictable behaviors they complete in lieu of chasing an uninfected human host. In one scene, the protagonists are seen timing their stealth moves around the obsessive croaks and head snaps of one particularly heinous zombie in a lab coat. But, when Gerry makes a sound in the silent halls, you can be sure the zombies pick up on it and hone in. He uses it at the climax, and I’ll leave it at that.
Here, in this work, silence is associated with the sickly and compulsive zombie population. Disturbances of that silence, so agreed upon by their undead psychology, are disturbances of disorder, signifying an attempt to make order. One can cut this many ways, but I’ll bring it back to humming in the car. The silence in my car was agreed upon by mashing the volume button on the radio. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of my mind, this was disquieting. So, as I hummed, I affirmed, to myself, I am healthy and rather careless. And, should you want to examine that last statement, I’ll kindly snap a picture of my unkempt room.
Silence is unnatural to us. We can’t shut up and listen to nothingness — it’s much too uncomfortable. When you have more on your mind than biting some fool who hasn’t showered since civilization broke down, you want some sign of life, or existence, more palpable than “Oh, I saw it a moment ago.” Art, in its various forms, capitalizes on this. The use of rhythmic silence in “World War Z” and my personal use of “Royals” demonstrate, in their own little ways, how indie pop and zombie thrillers are reenforcing my bouts of object impermanence.