Elida Høeg: City center tinnitus

I was once told that complaining about noise in the city center was like living in a train station and complain about the trains passing by.

The word tinnitus derives from the Latin verb tinnire, to ring. Most people that have tinnitus hear it as a ringing, as a little alarm constantly going off. Some hear it as small clicking sounds, or as the blowing of the wind, or as a massive roar. In some rare cases, people conceive their tinnitus as distant music or an unidentifiable murmur, as voices speaking.

When voices are heard as a form of tinnitus, the listeners can’t hear what they say, in contrast with the auditory hallucinations that can occur with psychotic illness. The sounds make no sense, they don’t tell you what to do, they are just there.

Tinnitus can sometimes be heard as a rhythm or pulse. If it sounds like a pulse, it can be synchronous with the heartbeat, which means that the sounds come from the blood veins. Tinnitus can be individual, when the experience is of one person only, or more rarely, it can be a common one, when an observer can hear the tinnitus.

To live in the center of a city is like having tinnitus: A constant stream of sounds in your head. Sometimes the sounds are louder, sometimes lower, sometimes sharper, sometimes softer. Sometimes they keep you awake, sometimes they wake you up, sometimes they sing you to sleep. But they are always there, even when you don’t notice them.

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