2013 in retrospective III (338)


2013: The year in retrospective. Part III

Two thousand and thirteen, the Grande Syntagmatique

Or an attempt to provide an exhaustive classification of the segmentation of a yearly narrative

Text by Budhaditya Chattopadhyay

Career: The glass-window of the 4th floor office-room overlooks a busy street. The street meets a highway a few meters away, and runs deep toward the center of the city. The harbor is visible at the background of the crossroad, and the long-legged masts shiver unsurely in arctic wind throughout the year. The windowpane is inadvertently soundproof; the continuous traffic is rendered inaudible to the point of creating a clear disconnection between sound and moving image. The series of milk-vans, Miele trucks, servicing cars and taxis move without their obvious sonic objecthood, as if in a silent film, or more precisely: in a dream. Their silence allows for the entry of other sounds to be imagined and reimagined over times spent here; prominent ones are the footsteps of colleagues in the hallway, the printing and scanning machine at the other side of the room, the voices of students from the farthest corridors, and the falling of a metallic curtain over the glass panel of the window 4 times a day with an exact timer. When the curtain falls, the room becomes darker, and the computer screen brightens up with a hope of getting a greater attention. Proximity of selfhood in these moments enlivens the sense of responsibility one holds in the academic constraints of the university office-room for a sound researcher. Outside, the silent rows of bicyclers cross the inaudible traffic lights and proceed into an emerging evening; the city-lights appear one by one on the glass darkly.

Love: The sent letters remain unanswered. I keep looking at the monitor screen, and a lump of bitterness replaces the itinerant bubble of anticipation. The other side of the screen can only be imagined at this moment of waiting. The transparent glass covers part of the room, and the rest is visible in the dim light of a neon bulb. Her mother is doing her hair in the confines of the circle of light. The long trail of her hair is combed and she bends her head backwards for a greater access. Outside, in the light of the late afternoon, I press my forehead on the glass to get a greater glimpse of her face, her ears and the neckline. My eagerness to reach out is detained by the glass panel of her window. The garden here, outside of her house in the afterglow of twilight trembles like a mirror. In my eagerness I overstep a number of flowers while my face presses hard on the glass and distorts. Both my hands are now pressed on glass, and a muffled call leaves my lips. Her mother cannot hear me, and she remains unresponsive.

Finance: The meaning of money has been convoluted through an excess of international transaction throughout this year. Danish Kroner have been converted into Indian Rupees, while Euros sent to the Danish bank. British Pound was spent online with a Danish debit card, and Swiss Francs were drawn from a German bank in Zurich. Danish Kroner was converted into Lithuanian currency in a Danish bank at Vilnius, and Norwegian Kroner could not be drawn at Bergen railway station’s only ATM machine. The Indian bank in New Delhi declined the Danish debit card at its ATM services, while the international NRE account remained dubious in investment throughout the year. The graph of depreciating money(s) shows the rising discrepancy between different forms, formats, names, designs, prints, and meanings of money. Between these different faces of money stands the middleman who stalks and preaches before every moment of deposition and withdrawal. How much to spend and how much to invest remain incalculable. The money is coming out of the ATM machine with a multitude of fingerprints and the bill receipts are printed with a hollow sound of the printer. Conversion between money(s) is made within a day, while the market is getting up and down; at the exact moment when the conversion takes place, the graph freezes into a dead image.

Health: Between the researcher’s chair and the researcher’s table, there is the researcher’s body, which in broad daylight turns into a tarantula. The pseudo-academic tarantula then roams around the researcher’s books, journals and printed materials with a researcher’s intellect. Within the closed confines of this office-room the production of knowledge remains partly process-based since sonic research incorporates embodied experience. Between the researcher’s bookrack and the researcher’s computer screen, there is the researcher’s mind, which in broad daylight turns into a malware. The post-academic malware starts multiplying knowledge with the skill-set of a text-jokey. Within the closed confines of this office-room the production of knowledge becomes cancerous as cross-references loose the semantic chain.

General: In general, the sense of time over this fleeting year could only be measured in the light of a momentary pause. A clean break from the sonic actuality of office desk was needed in this year. The necessity to take listening space without the compulsion of peer pressure has taken over the morning’s enthusiasm and late afternoon’s ambition. The office chair has now been happily stretched into an armchair, and the laptop is sent to hibernation, the appointment book is kept aside, and the calendar thrown into dustbin. Time, this year, has been generous in the sense of linearity. I, therefore, take a deep breath and lie back with a mood of indolence.


[Budhaditya Chattopadhyay; photo courtesy of Frans Jacobi]

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay website