I am going with the divers. To immerse myself in their world, so to speak. The landscape: evanescent jellies over shadowy blue-green depths. Spider crabs over brown boulders. Sound bubbles murmuring like echoes of the lost continent. Muffled pings of distant sonar. Voices of the others, recording as I am now.
We used to play a game in pools. We called it see if you can tell what I am saying. We’d face one another underwater through goggles and the speaker would shout-scream, making exaggerated facial movements. We would interrupt ourselves with eruptions of laughter, come up coughing, decide in unison: try again.
Observations: submerged in this cylindrical ship, we become a collective cyborg. Once called the silent world, it becomes sonorous, an exercise in transduction. Transduce: to alter the physical nature of a signal; to convert variations in one medium into corresponding variations in another medium. Accoustemology: a sonic way of being.
It has been observed that in rural France, the circumference of a village could be defined by the reach of reverberating church bells.
And what are we doing here? If vision is for surfaces, hearing is for the interior. I think we are all here waiting for the sounds of the bells we missed, that we might gain access to a village we haven’t yet imagined.
We are listening. We hope that when we hear it, we will know.
Inspired by something I was wondering about last night, related to dreams and echolocation, which led me to Stefan Helmreich’s 2007 article in American Ethnologist, An Anthropologist Underwater: Immersive Soundscapes, Submarine Cyborgs, and Transductive Ethnography. I am intrigued by Helmreich’s idea for an anthropological take on the ecosystem within a submarine.