maandag 17 oktober 2011

Earsplitting noise - excercising the jungle

In 1955 David Mabury-Lewis and his wife Pia lived with the Sherente (Xerente). On their way the were forced to spend time in some backwater Brazilian village that suffered from a minority complex exactly because it was only a backwater village. Maybury-Lewis (in 'The Savage and the Innocent', 1965) writes about the daily (and noisy) ritual of local radio-through-the-loudspeaker. 

His conclusion reaffirms that a) forests and towns in our society don't mix 2) that forest-dwelling indigenous people experience the forest in a completely different way.     
It was not until I had some experience of the eerie stillness of the bush that I came to understand why the town loudspeaker with its nightly hour (or two hours in affluent towns) of earsplitting noise was so important to the people who lived in the interior. It was their way of exorcising the jungle, of shouting defiance at the vast savannahs and claiming kinship with the cities. 
If you don't mind a bit of third rate cryptoforest pondering: I long believed in the theory that the fact that agoraphobia (the fear for open spaces) occurs much less often than claustrophobia (which I personally find easier to empathize with) can be understood as a consequence of the fact that our nervous system developed to the savannah conditions where our ape ancestors developed there human brains. Now I believe that the origin of such phobias are cultural rather than biological: forest people are psychogeographically different from us.... 

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