So, it's late at night and 'Geordie Shore' starts playing on the television.
I'm not really watching the TV at this point. I keep it on for background noise some times. I grew up in a noisy house, you see. Absolute quiet bothers me in a way I can't quite define. I feel disconnected from the world in a way that's disconcerting.
The quiet hum of the television, regardless of the program that is on, helps dissipate those childhood anxieties.
But something about this new show draws my attention. Is it the intelligent discussion? The moving relationships? The powerful storyline?
In a word, no. This reality show is a train wreck of humanity. Vapid, vain and vacuous twenty-somethings get drunk and shag each other.
And yet, from what I hear, the show is a hit. How?
There is so much to do and see in the world, how do these shows survive? Why do people gravitate towards visual storytelling?
Put another way, what is it about 'seeing' stories, even ones of questionable quality, that is powerful enough to draw people in?
Think about the amount of time, discourse, effort and resources that go into making and watching visual stories every day. It's a mind boggling level of human undertaking.
And yet, even in the poorest parts of the world, in places which define poverty, people have televisions.
In areas untouched by modernity, cultures still have visual performances.
In these totally unrelated microcosms, seemingly with no awareness of each other, still the visual story becomes integral to their human experience.
Why? Is it coincidence?
Or is there something innate to us as creatures, that somehow the visual gets pride of place on the sensory pyramid? I am not saying that the other senses are less important, but human history tells us that we perceive the visual as a far more powerful stimulus than any other.
Don't take my word for it. 'Seeing is believing', remember? I didn't invent that turn of phrase.
Is that all a coincidence too?
I'm not convinced. There is so much that is random in the world, and yet so much that seems to follow unseen or unknown conventions.
For example, all 'matter' (i.e. in the scientific sense, the general term for the substance that makes up all observable physical existence) across the known universe, including us, vibrates. Did you know that?
That may seem like a small, unrelated oddity, but it is in fact amazing. All physical reality following the same convention of vibration.
So we are all vibrating, and therefore resonating sound at different frequencies, constantly.
And here is something I didn't know. Sound can be 'seen'. It's called 'cymatics'.
Which leads to the most amazing part. Through cymatics, which is the study of visible sound, scientists have determined that different sound frequencies (e.g. different notes on a piano) create different symmetrical visual patterns of vibration.
I'll say that again.
Have you ever seen a photo of crop circles? Sound waves create distinct symmetrical patterns exactly like these, in a way that can be seen by the human eye.
The most incredible experiment is one which uses white powder on a metal plate. The experiment then plays different sound frequencies through the plate and literally shows you the patterns formed by sound. See for yourself:
So, there are visual patterns, imperceptible to us, that come from the very core of our existence.
Visual patterns, created from the vibration that makes up our physical reality.
Is it any wonder then, that 'seeing' is so important to us? That people are drawn towards visual stories? That the ability to visually perceive the patterns that make up our lives, our stories, could be inherent to our very existence?
Why then do we waste the gift, the responsibility, of visual storytelling on stories that are undeserving?
And, most importantly, what the f*** am I doing wasting this gift watching 'Geordie Shore'?
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