Saturday, August 24, 2019

Nasty Innuendo

Not everyone values the shrill drone of cicadas. For me however their drum-like tymbals mark the final and spellbinding days of summer when the humidity drops and the skies are clear. The hum is to my ear almost soporific. Being on the threshold of harvest and the edge of summer a divinely narrow avenue.

"The paired tymbals of a cicada are located on the sides of the abdominal base. The "singing" of a cicada is not stridulation as in many other familiar sound-producing insects like crickets  (where one structure is rubbed against another): the tymbals are regions of the exoskeleton that are modified to form a complex membrane with thin, membranous portions and thickened "ribs". These membranes vibrate rapidly, and enlarged chambers derived from the tracheae make the cicada's body serve as a resonance chamber, greatly amplifying the sound. Some cicadas produce sounds louder than 106 dB (SPL), among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds. They modulate their noise by positioning their abdomens toward or away from the substrate."

The vibrating membranes of the cicadas are not the only whisper to be heard upon the late summer breeze. The aspersions of other oblique remarks are more disparaging. I assume we all occasionally suffer the recurring displeasure of former alliances, amitiés and romances. To utter a sound about them is I am discovering an indulgence without reward. It is better to avoid the appetite for vengeance or disdain. Yet the current enthusiasm for declaring what it is that one thinks or feels conflicts with this Pollyanna cheerfulness. Fashioning one's pleasure as utterly private further collides with the gusto of a relationship. Settling for a diverting outward glance is often far less motivating than a malicious inward thrust.

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