Here at the university, my left brain is a focused beam of white light, clean, precise, digital. I concentrate, I reason, I solve. I feel exhilerated by the power of the analytic mind. Yet throughout the day I feel a strange pressure building inside me---creative energy yearning to explode.
And now at the conservatorio, my right brain takes over. I am overwhelmed with emotion---the suffering and tears of the operatic heroins. Emotion that cannot be analyzed and digitalized. Finally, that vibrating emotion must crack through. Only music will do. I explode in song.
Shuttling back and forth between these two universes, I start asking myself fundamental questions: What gives us more complete information, sound or images? How does acoustic memory compare with visual memory?
Today, I am sitting in the giardini pubblici with people talking all around me. I can hear sounds coming at me from every direction, but I can see only in the direction I point my eyes. Does this mean I am more immersed in the sounds around me than in the images around me? Am I more at the center of my acoustical world than my visual world? I jot these questions down in the notebook I carry with me everywhere.
A truck passes by. I can hear it on the road behind me. I know it is a truck by its sound, without having to look. I note this observation, too.
It is later in the afternoon. I have been studying for hours. I put down my books and close my eyes, exhausted by reading. But suddenly a thought occurs and my notebook is out again. "Eyes tire, ears don't," I write.
Now it is night. I am abruptly awakened from a deep sleep by the racket of a motor scooter revving under my bedrom window. Again, I reached for my notebook: "Ears don't sleep---eyes do. Eyes need light---ears don't."
Yes, these are obvious observations. But I keep thinking that they all add up to something significant about the differences between the way we process aural information and the way we process visual information.
I realize one big difference in how we remember this information. A song can ignite a detailed memory of a whole period of my life much more effectively than anything visual---including a photograph---can. Just a hint of a melody can summon up a particular romance, a kiss when that song played in the background, a car trip as a child when a certain piece of music played on the radio. Aural memories feel much more intimate to me.
I also realize that my visual mind has much less tolerance for redundancy than my aural mind does. I can watch the same movie only a few times before feeling I've had quite enough---but I can listen to the same piece of music over and over endlessly without tiring of it.
I am sitting in the subway, the Metropolitana, looking over what I have written in my notebook. Now there is not a doubt in my mind: Auditory information has something important to offer us that visual information does not.
But what does all of this mean about the celestial objects I am studying?
- Dr. Fiorella Terenzi