Thursday, 4 February 2016


It is impossible to quantify the depth, breadth, height and area of man’s desperation to fill the gaping existential void of life with knowledge, with belief, with stuff. In some cases, this hunger may lead to positive things, like discoveries that benefit mankind, or sacrifice, or kindness, or greatness in the arts. These positive things cannot fill the chasm, but they can bridge it. Welcome as they are, they act only as appetite suppressors, sticking plasters. Mostly, however, this bottomless want manifests itself in manic but ultimately pointless activity, a time squandering fixation on trivia, ephemera and miscellany, a search for pieces of an infinite jigsaw that in no way resembles the picture on the box.  

I found out recently that there were human beings who were obsessed with warning sirens. This did not particularly surprise me (there will be someone somewhere who has every type of hoover bag, or collects the autographs of Micronesian heads of state), but it made me wonder. A warning siren is a harsh, horrible thing – deliberately so. You’re not supposed to like it, let alone stand there filming it go off for ten minutes before uploading it to YouTube to share with others. A warning siren evokes panic and fear – screams and disorder, children being trampled underfoot, short notice and long odds against survival. Yet, there are men (I’m assuming they are all men, I’m almost certainly right) who have made it their mission to seek out these clarions of chaos, and travel from county to county, country to country, to see examples, document them, and to place a tick against their name and location on a list. It seems crazy, doesn’t it?
And then I watched the films and heard the sirens for myself. They are extraordinary. I can’t say that they would ever become an obsession for me, but I felt more than a little of their baleful gravitational pull, and remembered that the original siren song was powerful enough to lure men to their death. These eldritch shrieks, infinitely varied, but all full of dread and doom, and the simple but effective convolutions of pipes and horns that deliver them, are utterly compelling – although I'd happily live my life without ever having to hear them again.


I don’t know the protocol, the series of events and orders that might finally set the sirens wailing. I don’t know whether they will serve as an actual warning or merely as melancholic countermelody to our destruction. Perhaps they will be the final annoyance on this infinitely annoying planet: we won’t even be allowed to die in peace. What I do know is that The Crisis is coming, and the sirens will have their part to play.

And therein lays the dilemma of the true obsessive. When the sirens go off, we are all finished. But there are those amongst us who will welcome this as a fair exchange for hearing those sirens en masse, for finally filling that hole within them, albeit for perhaps only a few seconds. Given the well-established link between extreme obsession and sexual stimulation, it’s horrible to think that, when The Crisis comes, so will these men, absolutely in their element, capturing the chorus of doom on their expensive recorders and furiously wanking their way into Armageddon.  

* My thanks to JPa311979 for the film clips. His interest is clearly sound in general, rather than simply being mad for sirens and, as such, he is absolutely NOT the target of this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment