Mumbling Systems

I am having a recurring dream lately where I’m back at school in my English Literature class and we talk about everything weird and eerie.

It’s really fun and I can’t help but be impressed by my unconscious. If dreams truly are the brain’s way of figuring itself out and processing all that it’s been doing whilst you’re conscious, a classroom is a brilliantly literal (if perhaps pretentious) way for it to process its own ideas.

Last night was a slightly odd example of this. I dreamt it was a new semester and the kind and inspiring teacher present in my previous versions of this dream had been replaced by a grumpy and difficult woman who started the class with a maths test I could not comprehend.

Later though, we came round to her and, right before I woke up, we were discussing an eerie concept that I like just as much whilst awake.

Discussing the stories of M.R. James, we talked about “mumbling systems” to describe the liminal eeriness of seemingly agentic environments. Not the “eerie cry” that Mark Fisher would talk about but something more explicitly Spinozist, perhaps.

We would talk about the ways that weather systems, and particularly winds, seem to carry voices, exacerbating auditory hallucinations, systems in which murmurs and whispers seep into our worlds.

I was reminded, on awakening, of Yve Lomax’s beautiful book Sounding the Event in which she writes:

Hun-dun, or perhaps the primal noise is mur, the French-sounding word for wall. Mur: the sound of a wall of indistinguishable sounds; a wall of sound that sounds blank. This blank sound is the noise of the void, but let’s not make the stupid mistake of making the void isomorphic with nothingness. No, the void is not nothingness, it is pure possibility, it gapes wide with openness. That is the yawn. The yawn that opens up unbounded multiplicity.

I’d never thought about Lomax’s book in relation to The Weird and the Eerie before but there might be a future post in that.

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