Thursday, August 10, 2017

Iapetus Sings

Is Iapetus silent?

No. Iapetus is not. Iapetus sings.

That is when people tend to gather ‘round, with that “listen to the madman” look on their faces.

So I oblige. I tell them a story.

Imagine you’re on a bus. A buss rolling gently on a smooth, straight highway through the dark. You’re seated near the rear of the bus, not surrounded by other riders. But there are other riders. Some, in these winter pre-dawn hours, are asleep. A few snore gently, some bathed in the gentle breeze of a blower from the ceiling, others not.

So you have snoring. You have the breeze blowing.

Others on the bus are awake. Some sit in the dark and stare out at the dark rolling by. There is little to see. Not even the stripe on the side of the road, as since it is winter, the stripe is mostly covered up by packed snow.

Add the rumbling squeak of tires on snow.

Those not staring out the windows are tapping away at their phones, their faces illuminated by the glow form their tiny screens. But as you’re at the back of the bus, you do not see faces. You see the diffused glow. Some of them are watching videos, others are listening to music. They all do so with their headphones on. But their volume is loud so from those nearest you, you hear the tinny sounds.

So add muted music, laughter, dialogue.

You yourself are sleepy. You’re not staring out the window, nor are you tapping on a phone or listening to music. You’re half asleep and sometimes you do fall asleep and snore – not gently.

Now add the sound of you snorting yourself awake.

Take away those sounds, you have the sound of Iapetus.

Add those sounds, you have the sound of yourself on Iapetus.

But there is no rolling bus. There is no blowing breeze. There are neither snorers nor listeners of music.

There is you. And the sounds you make or the sounds your brain brings to the silence of Iapetus so the long silence of Iapetus doesn’t cause you to become startled at the sound of your own voice.

Those listening squirm with the frisson of listening to a lunatic.

One skeptic speaks: “But you said Iapetus sings.”

“I did,” I say. “And it does.”

“But you just—“

“Here is the song.”

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight!

Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!

And I sing.

The crowd gets confused, but leans in even closer to the singing lunatic.

Sometimes there is a student of ancient television in the crowd who recognizes the song.
“Iapetus,” they sneer, “sings the theme for ‘Laverne and Shirley’?”

“Only in my head,” I reply. “Iapetus itself is silent.”

I may as well be on Trafalmadore.

No comments: