I caught Eve Egoyan the other night at Darke Hall. Part of what she does as artist whose medium is piano, as her website says, is her earwitness project exploring what sound can do to light (is how I'd put it).
I took the word to a couple of classes today. Why not nosewitness or fingerwitness, students asked, then disappeared, out the door with nothing but ears--go downstairs, walk around, come back up.
Quicker than the time it took me to write the sentence you have just read (should you still be with me, dedicated readers--that's you, aunt Betty and uncle Fred), my students sat down and wrote what they'd heard.
I asked if they'd heard anything interesting. I must have put the question more effectively to my afternoon class, which had heard the number 12 and languages and Cheetos. And that hum, and trucks backing up. Conversation about hearing ensued. But we didn't get to sounds our bodies make (beyond the obvious ones), or to whether I'm hearing the hard sweep of snow away from the window or just seeing it.
And I sent an email to Eve Egoyan. After performing most of the hour-long Ann Southam piece called "Simple Lines of Enquiry," Egoyan spoke of how the piece needs time to build the context for itself. Readers of contemporary poetry may understand what she means. I refer of course to those poems which call into question our usual ways to read.