I found a new way to cool off during the scorching late afternoons. I don’t know if my temperature is actually dropping, but my brain seems to believe it anyway. I clip headphones to my ears, and I dive into an Arteradio.com podcast named Amazoniadirected by Félix Blum, deep in the Amazon jungle.
Sounds of birds, dense undergrowth, bocage, river, storm, primary forest after the rain… As the train rolls and the sun beats down, my mind fills with feathers, leaves and water drops. I gradually become different, more animal, mineral, distant, aquatic, I miraculously escape through the ears.
Read also: How fictional podcasts are dusting off the radio soap opera
The section that hosts this wordless podcast is called “Close your eyes” and seems to invite you to give yourself up entirely to the enveloping power of sound. These are creations on the border between fiction and documentary: the sounds are taken from reality, the editing invents a story that takes you away without saying a word. Without words, but above all, without images, and that is the secret.
The magic of sound
As a child, I remember that as soon as I really knew how to read, I fled from illustrated books. The images are so intrusive, so evocative, that they fix and limit the imagination, where sounds, written or spoken words, on the contrary, open it up very widely… Faced with a jungle landscape on screen or in photo, difficult to experience the same sensation of true freshness that gives me Amazonia.
This is no doubt why, alongside the force of the images which dominate our world by imposing themselves on us, which strike us with their power, sound has its own bewitching magic. Because, like writing, sound makes us its accomplices. It forces us to build, to edify, to invent, to visualize. It makes us present, active, actors in the ongoing story…
I even believe that the current success of podcasts, and the renewed growth of fiction in this area, responds to a desire for freedom. The screen in your pocket, your hands free, your brain of a thousand colors can wander, escape, identify, feed on emotions and sensations, play all the roles it likes, abandon itself to a form of shared creativity… You are both guided and master of the game, given over to fiction, storytelling, elsewhere, but curiously present to yourself. And it is in this distance, this tension, this in-between – which reading also provides – that the imagination finds its most fertile ground.