Thursday, September 24, 2009

piped music

One of the striking things for me about re-reading Mrs Dalloway - we've moved onto this in our Mon/Thurs class - is noticing how much use Woolf makes of sound. I always tend to remember a book (like most other things) visually, but in fact Woolf pulls in all the senses - touch, and smell (though she's not all that interested in food, which tends to carry negative connotations - think Miss Kilman lusting, in vain, after the small pink cake), and the sounds of the absolutely everyday: Clarissa knows that she's home from the cook whistling, the typewriter clicking (I've always wondered who is doing the typing - does Richard D have an un-introduced typist?), the swish of a mop, the clink of silver on a tray.

And the "tapping; knocking." We have tapping, knocking, in the basement in Murray - I heard this yesterday, when I was an inspection tour with various people from the School of Arts and Sciences and Facilities, looking for Mold (which indeed we found - black and dry, black and wet, bright green and energetically flourishing). Or, if not tapping and knocking exactly, more like a gurgling click. Impossible to photograph, of course (though Woolf, rather like the Italian Futurist Russolo, trying to do the impossible in painting Music, does write of spirals of sound). But what had caught my eye was the fact that someone had labeled this with their frustration: "This thing makes such an annoying sound! How many centuries old is it anyway?" A good enough question...

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