A well-oiled machine emits a certain sound that indicates it is running well. The smooth, almost elegant sound of mechanical gears and parts is a beautiful noise to some – while the click, clank, clunk of mechanical failure is hard on our ears. Without being engineers or mechanics, we need only listen to a machine to tell if it is running smoothly.
Over the weekend, I had a wonderful interaction with a young boy of two that showed some (at least anecdotal) insight into our perceptions of mechanical harmony. The little boy in question suddenly rushed into the room ‘Emergency! Emergency’ Naturally concerned, I followed the little fellow into a neighboring room. Nothing seemed amiss. The lad pointed to a CD-player. Thinking the boy wanted music, I pressed the play button — and was greeted by the grinding sounds of an improperly-seated CD being jostled by the spinning parts of the player. It was grinding on my ears.
It was only after a moment or two that I realized what had just transpired. A little child, with only two years of life and life experience had heard those sounds of ‘mechanical chaos’ and knew that something wasn’t right. Could there be something inherent in nature that details what mechanical fluidity should sound like? Is the soft, quick and efficient sounds a deer racing through the woods more closely linked to the hum of a modern engine than I could have imagined? These thoughts filled my head this weekend.