The music column

Ba bo boom ba bo boom

It’s not fitting the cause, in any sense, which makes the experience even slightly better. Sliding away after drinks with a friend on the way home in January, my typical self ignoring facts such as weather and surroundings. I am on Schillingbrücke at one in the morning, pirouetting around my own axis in the most elegant way one can concoct in a moment where everything becomes subliminal, slippery, unsure.

A fucked knee. It hurts. It doesn’t want to register on any doctors’ tests, it is just there.

One in the short progression of professionals tells me to get an MRI.

I forgot what they’re like, but once I enter this odd non-space in Mitte where the machine, HAL 9000, Siemens, portal, dimension controller, is sitting there like a big dog with no bone. It’s hungry.

I’ve had this before, the first time it was my head going in. I can’t even remember as it basically deletes any memory as it happens. It is deeply upsetting, but upsetting can be a nice experience.

This is my second time, plus it’s only my knee being hold down inside a huge creamy white contraption. But I forgot. The nurse offers me a selection of music, I choose Feist’s Metals, purely for the reason that it sticks out like a sore thumb between the pop and classic collection on offer.

My headphones are bust. But then again so are the headphones (or connection) on every flight I’ve ever taken. The drums start.

Ba bo boom ba bo boom.

Speak plain he said, but didn’t see. I’m getting pop music advice about relationships but the crunchy noise of shitty headphones (or more probably; a bad wireless connection) overrules everything.

Slowly I slide in.

And then the best record ever is put on. I wish it was a record.

The machine (a sort of post-millennial update of 2001: A Space Odyssey) makes a sound, or sounds, that are to most ears very hard to cope with. It’s deeply intrusive, inescapable. It filters your body, just like the machine does simultaneously with the images. It cuts you up. It fragments. It leaves nothing. It is the most amazing sound I’ve ever heard.

The perversity of the situation adds to the sensation. I am stuck, in this case, just with my knee, but I can’t get out and even a panic attack would take some time before I will be freed. But it’s exactly that realisation that makes it more fulfilling. It’s like an alarm bell on request.

I have had tinnitus since I was born. A hole in my eardrum, just like my mother. When times become more stressful the piercing sound gets louder. It’s unavoidable, and I know it, even if it got much better after a long overdue ear operation where the little gap in my ear was finally taken care of. Sometimes, the tinnitus can even be comforting. It’s probably the first sound I heard. So lying inside this sensational future of a machine, I am confronted with the fact that it’s a 20-minute holiday from my tinnitus. Sound over sound. The machine takes over from my body. In a way, they become one. I suddenly secretly wish I had one of these monstrosities at home.

The question of sound and its influence within power structures has been researched extensively, but the emotional resonance of sound in a situation where one can’t escape it is something that everybody has to deal with on their own. I feel partially dubious about enjoying it, as this is just a few steps from sound as instrument for political mechanisms. Maybe that’s what makes it better. I know that writing about this experience is futile. Writing about music is like dancing about architecture as the old saying goes. And still these 15 minutes inside the Siemens was a deeper experience than any music I had heard before.

I’m not done yet. Better break another leg. But the sound’s not all. I believe these machines are built like they are for a reason. They defy reality. They are the closest one can get to the idea of abstraction in physical form. There is nothing to relate to. OK, maybe some sci-fi film (as quoted above), but that was not their intention. There is nothing to hold onto, there is no interest in comfort. In a time when everything is now, and the present encapsulates all possible futures, this machine and its procedures are a true vision of the future. Funny that human malfunctions have lead to that.

pageview counter pixel