Solipsism is arrogance, right?
The retreat into some ‘provable’ core is just self centredness. The tree doesn’t fall unless I am here to hear? Nonsense. The sound is created by it’s observation?
It’s a real problem. If the tree falls at all, then surely physics is still there. The air vibrates and bursts in the same manner. The sound travels. Is it still a sound if it is not heard? You can cheat and note the animals on the wood, that can hear on our behalf, but it’s avoiding the real notion.
I mean. Basically, if it doesn’t make a sound, then it isn’t there at all. Perception defines the universe. There is nothing behind your back right now. Not until you turn around and look.
I remember trying to explain this to a friend in French class when I was about 13. The friend in question spent most of his time rocking back and forth on his chair and hyperventilating ‘for the high’.
Both of us drowned and fell backwards into greyness regularly.
I remember once hallucinating my solipsism at school. Being aware of floating in nothingness, nothing but an illusion of a field of vision in front of me. I could see the edge of my vision, where things collapsed and fall apart.
And yes. My perspective is the only think I can assume exists, because it is the only thing I can percieve. Cogito ergo sum.
Somewhere down the line, I suspect you have to make a choice. Either you retreat into nothingness. Or you accept. That whatever is underneath, the only reality I have available to me on a direct, day-to-day basis, is this one.
Coming out of the wash of a drug induced haze, having let the world drift away (terrifyingly) for five minutes, I hit a table with my fingers, declaring it real, wonderful, beautiful and here.
It makes more sense to feel the universe than to reject it’s existence. Even if it is less logical.
The now is what we have. The tree in the wood, if we aren’t there, is still making a sound. We are missing that. But we can pay attention to the other sounds here. That’s what we’ve got. If you want to hear a tree fall in the wood, go to a wood. I imagine it’s a beautiful, slightly scary sound. I imagine a creak and a heave and a series of clatters. An immense crack and a sound of pending. Bending. A roar of tiny tears, a huge living thing slowly pulling itself apart.
It probably doesn’t happen that often though. Except when people are doing it. And then they are there to hear it.
They may not be aware of the immensity of that experience, particularly if they do it every day.
And at the end of the day. The world we live in is immense, and we do it every day.
Don’t worry about the sounds of the woods until you are there.
Illustration by Rosie