Dystopian Topography of Noise: “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Pittman, and Chandler Tuttle: Ludmiła Gruszewska-Blaim
Dystopian Topography of Noise: “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut, Bruce Pittman, and Chandler Tuttle
The vocation of the sound film is to redeem us from the chaos of shapeless noise by accepting it as expression, as significance, as meaning. (Bela Balazs, Theory of the Film: Sound)
In the dystopia’s beginning is the noise. It accompanies riots, terrorist attacks and (para-)military takeovers that precede a new rule. Regardless of the form it assumes, e.g., uproar, gunfire, bombing, distorted echoes of commands reverberating in the streets, cries of the angered, injured or terrified, diegetic noise becomes an ineliminable attribute of literary and cinematic renderings of the rise of a dystopian state, alluded to in prologues or flashbacks. Once established, the dystopian rule finds noise a most effective means of exercising control, complementary to its crimes and misdemeanours.
Evoking “in adults and children alike a direct reflex action as if it were a signal of danger, or an unpleasant attack” (Levarie 23), noise is believed to accompany any physical process: “as long as our conscious experiences at least supervene on physical processes, our experiences must be noisy” (Morrison 353). It is not an average level of noise, however, that dystopia produces in order to impose and sustain its rule. ← 187 | 188 → Dystopia requires more functional and oppressive forms of noise than just regular background noise. In dystopian exomimetic presentations,1 the latter—no matter how obnoxious—becomes only a prelude to...
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