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The perfect sound.

It’s drifted past 11pm here at the Bohlender house, and save those piped into my ears via earbuds, there are not a lot of sounds floating around. I realized that just a moment ago when I heard the whistle and chug of a freight train as it crossed Red Bridge road nearly a mile away.

There is something acoustically perfect about a train. Something about the resonance, the click of the wheels, the fact that something that big in motion would have to make an impressive sound…it’s just perfect. If it sounded different, it would be weird. The sound perfectly represents the essence of the object. The sound of a train says movement. inertia. kinetics. power under control but fully exerted.

The antithesis of this perfect match of sight and sound might have to be the Honda Rebel. Some years back, Honda realized that a lot of people liked Harley Davidsons, so they built a Harley-styled bike…low seat, wide rear tire, tear drop gas tank. They didn’t exactly nail the look, but it was close enough…until you started the engine and Helen Keller herself knew this was not a Harley. They had the look down, but the sound was that of an electric can opener.

In our world just up the hill from the train tracks, there’s a lot of talk about being a voice and not an echo. I think this thought of acoustic representation probably applies to people too. There’s not much more awkward than watching and hearing someone and having a hard time connecting the visual with the audio because what they’re doing doesn’t match what they’re saying.

From time to time, I’m encouraged by others to write a book. For the most part, I’ve resisted valiantly (admission: I started once, got to 28k words and had a falling out with a publisher. Good thing, too).

I will write one. I’m as sure of this as I am anything. When I write it, I want to make sure that the sound that comes forth is fully matched by a physical representation…that if people were only to watch and not listen, it would give them the exact same impression. I want to write a book that is of my essence, not my assertions.

I want to write the equivalent of a train.

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4 Responses

  1. We will be listening for that train whistle. My parents live near a train track in CO and I can totally relate to your analogy.

  2. Nothing stops a train

  3. Johnny Cash did.

  4. Yunno, I love the sound of a train. Really. It reminds me of being at my grandmother’s house because we used to hear them there. For the last year I’ve lived right next to a train track and loved hearing the trains pass by. I just moved and didn’t realize it, but I can’t hear the trains anymore. Sad day. Good blog.

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