giant/life of a dog/musical interlude

saramago

The music stops briefly to let air enter and the child looks at the dog, the dog lying on the floor with its eyes closed and when the track changes the music resumes from the speakers, or what passes for music to our ears, the human ear is far more complex than we give it credit for, what the child hears from the speaker is actually not music at all but binary code, 1s and 0s in myriad and seemingly indecipherable code and the child’s ear translates the code into sound that it identifies as music and the dog cannot hear it, for as complex as a dog’s hearing is, it cannot differentiate pitch as nimbly as the human ear can, and must, if we are to absorb the binary code as sound, as music. The child slinks from the couch and stands upon its one-year-old legs and it moves to the sound of the music, the child like a giant to the dog, who sleeps on the floor or pretends to sleep, for the dog does not understand why the giant sways this way and that, the erratic movements of humans are not of a dog’s concern, at least not of this particular dog’s concern, for it is familiar with the giant child and its erratic movements, and so the dog lies there with its eyes closed while the giant child sways to rhythm and melody, a strange interlude within the larger context of the album, a popular album by a popular artist and thus accessible to the casual music listener, with the exception of this interlude, which doesn’t seem to fit within the pattern of the album at large, but the giant child is compelled into motion, the giant child fancies the rhythm and so it bobs its weight at the knees, it rotates its hips and waist, arms fanned out at its sides and the movement could easily be identified by an audience (though there is no one else here to witness the occasion) as dance, a singularly human response to sound, and the child dances to the odd abstract interlude despite the artist’s (perhaps) intended listener response, which is to listen, to focus the ears upon the sound and listen, to respond with the mind rather than with the body. The giant child does not know this nor is it concerned with the artist’s intentions, for the child is one year of age and knows nothing of artists, nor intentions, nor music, nor the intricacies of the human ear, nor the range of a canine’s auditory spectrum. The interlude fades out and a brief clap of silence envelops the room as the track changes again and then the album resumes its familiar sound and the giant child climbs back up onto the couch as the child’s mother clamors into the room with a flourish, happy to see that both child and dog are exactly as they were when she left the room to check on the laundry, and the mother is so proud to have such a well behaved child and such a calm dog. The mother hears the sound at the speakers and she recognizes it, she enjoys the sound, she likes the song and the album and she begins to sway, both child and dog looking up at her.

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