Over at the BBC I'm reading Living Outside the Hearing World by Lucy Wallis in which she tells us the issue of 'curing' deafness with cochlear implants has become something of a touchy subject among the 19,600 deaf teenagers in the UK.
One clue to why such teenagers might be 'attached' to their deafness is given by 19 year old Meghan Durno who describes how after undergoing the implant procedure she spent the intervening period of four weeks studying for a veterinary nursing degree at Edinburgh Napier University relying purely on lip reading. "When I went into the lecture theatre, I just switched off because the lady that was standing there started pacing up and down and talking and I couldn't understand what was being said, so I just looked at the notes".
In other words in order to read each others lips deaf people tend to require and give a much more intimate if not intense level of attention while people who hear tend to get by on far more minimal if not downright superficial levels of reciprocal attention.
Another clue is SenCity a multi-sensory Club Night which provides Aroma Jockeys who mix scents in the same way they mix the music and a vibrating dance floor.
In other words the young deaf people DO 'hear' the music - but with their bodies not their ears.
Meghan's brain took time adjusting to experiencing hitherto unknown sensations like babies crying or birds singing. "With the implant, I'm able to hear little things I never knew existed....Like when you rub your hands together, I never knew that made a sound."
"I was lying down one time and I heard a noise and I was like what's that and I realised it was my own breathing… I've amazed myself with what I can hear, and amazed a piece of machinery can help you hear."
My point being imagine a planet where hearing hadn't evolved. There be no koans like "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or "If a tree falls in the forest will it make a sound if no one's there to hear it?"
But if a few kids started reporting they could 'hear sounds' when they rubbed their hands together the scientists of that world'd refer to such a development as The Hearing Delusion because for them it'd a scientific fact there was no such thing as 'sound'.
And if anyone dared point out there might be something in the fact these kids had 'ears' those same scientists'd point out the scientific ridiculousness of the idea a few teensy tiny bones wrapped up in a minute amount of muscular nerve mush could be responsible for making those kids jump out their seats everytime a scientist got angry with them and slammed a door.
In fact those scientists'd probably point out since those ears seem to feed directly into the brain they're probably the reason the kids think they're 'hearing' things in the first place.
But let's push the envelope a little further and imagine a world where the denizens've evolved few if any of the senses we have.
Let's imagine a few of their kids've succumbed to what that world's scientists refer to as Schrodinger's Tree Delusion because those kids're reporting observing something they call a 'tree' falling in a 'forest'.
The kids even take the scientists to the 'forest' to see the 'tree' and by luck to hear another one fall.
But as the kindly scientists point out if the kids weren't so unwell they'd be able to perceive with their own gas sensitive organs what they call a 'tree' is actually a cloud-like gaseous life form the vertical growth of which necesitates it gradually condensing its impurities into the solidified multi armed structure they call a 'tree' until the structure's sheer solidified pointlessness finally causes it to topple over releasing the gaseous life form to start the cycle all over again.