The Song of Electricity


Sometimes, if you listen close, you hear the electricity sing. It is a static constant near you. It doesn't waver. It is a hum of activity, of doing but its mechanical inability to dance as the leaves of a tree would beneath the best of the wind makes it almost dull. You do not feel the excitement until you put your body to it. Like a soundproof club, you barely hear it until you are in and the noise, the taste, the smell, the lights hits you and you want to throw up on the floor because you did not expect it. It is a quick change, almost too much.


Imagine a night as quiet as nights can be, every scream, every plea as faint as a cricket's chirp, a rat's whine. Imagine hearing that static in your head, above all those absent sounds. It is calling you, incessant, no cadence, no soul. Do you ever hear the electric transformer when it comes on? Do you hear it when it has been on for over month and you are lucky to live in a world where power is never interrupted? You know you become use to the sound. You consume it. You bury it beneath all the more important sounds—the train, the belfry, the car horns, the bicycles, the violin lessons of your next door neighbor, the sex sounds of your next door neighbor. You never realised how lonely you are until all you hear is the wind and electricity coursing through wires.

It is the strangest thing. Imagine you, a child under the stars, bare, standing beneath the night gusts of wind and the hum of electricity serenading you. Does it not seem magical? All that stars pin pricking the universe, all that wind whittling the earth, all that power unveiling your imperfections. It seem like a tale from a science fiction anthology.

But to listen for power is a seductive thing. To become accustom to hearing power do what needs doing is a dangerous thing. You begin to think that it is a tool that can be manipulated by you. You begin to see a higher purpose in its characteristics. You begin to devise grand ideas and if left alone for longer, these ideas begin to form paper trash in your trashbin and soon enough, you will have the schematics to something new like an atomic bomb, or something small like a tranquilizer. You can also be limited in scope and creativity and simply end up with the electric chair.

Why is Thor not the god of lightning? Why is he the god of thunder? After all, it is not the sound that serves as his power, it is the electricity, the volts that he clings to when he travels and when he wars that makes him look strong. Why are the bolts called thunderbolts by some and lightning bolts by others? Whoever gave them these names? The Hulk's roar is more fearsome than thunder don't you think? You can see how easy it is to become complacent about electricity.

Let's go back to you in your loneliness, hearing electricity whisper its journey to you. There's the hum that spins the earth. Without that constant hum beneath the noise of our existence, there would be nothing but the sputter of candle wax, the groan of wooden axles and wheels, the weary bellows of bulls and the cluck of chickens. It would be a more primitive picture, a cleaner picture.

After all, what has electricity enabled? It would seem that the more advanced the utility of this power, the lonelier and cruel we become. There are electric cars, cryptocurrency, light in the darkness, music, powerful machines, all powered by this hum that lies beneath the skin of things. Our communication and travel, our love affairs and entertainment are all powered by electrical impulses yet we let it lie subsumed in our hunger for self acknowledgement.

Do you not wonder what could have been if history had taken a different path. Say, electricity was never harnessed instead pneumatic pumps and drills did the work and instead of electricity, air provided the force to move things. Imagine a world like that. Would it not be interesting? It would be new surely. Air cars and air ships. Don't you see that technology would have taken a different turn and you won't have to deal with this infernal hum? Let us speculate further. What if apart from air being the driver of machines instead of electricity, the African continent was never disturbed by explorers, priests, conmen and expansionists and she was allowed to evolve at her own pace? What if she found her own means of driving her machines? What if every continent, independent of another discovered their own unique power? Would it not have been very interesting, magical even, something the best sci-fi or fantasy author would gladly have written?

Do you see how a single lightbulb changed the course of history? Do you see how human it is to want something different and how it has lead us here? Maybe there is a universe where the world is not run by electricity. Maybe in that world, it is morning and the sun is high in the sky. Maybe in that universe, you are not alone in your body, listening to the electricity sing.