My mother was born deaf to hearing parents. They didn't know until she was five that she was deaf. She married a hearing man, and had two hearing children. Her deafness was her defining characteristic, although now that she's dead, I realize it never should have been. Not in a "Oh I so regret my life now that my mother has passed" way, more like, we were all blinded by it, fooled into thinking that we had some fathom of what it was like to be her simply by living with her. Like watching the frustration, the suicide attempts, listening to people say things like "No child of a deaf woman could be that smart." and then watching her fade away with a brain tumor gave us any idea. Sheer arrogance from those like my evil grandmother of thank you note fame who told my mother as a child "You can't do that, you're deaf." or like myself who suffered through my mother's naivete bolstered by the sympathy and notoriety that having a handicapped parent provided me.
I'm sitting here in the dark listening to my stereo and realizing that the comfort I get from it through the insomnia was something she never experienced. Her generation was punished for using sign language, taught they had to speak to survive, to fit in. There's a movement against this sort of education in the deaf community, now, but not then. Instead, mom made us sit through every movie with a deaf person in it from Children of a Lesser God to See No Evil, Hear No Evil, in the hopes that we would glean something. I don't think I did.
Helen Keller addressed the parents of deaf children, including my mother's parents, divorcing after they learned of mom's handicap, unable to assign blame. She said that given a choice, she'd rather be blind. My grandmother forever hated her after that one.
My mother got a college degree. Was a great cook. Owned a business. Managed to ask me about my love life three days after brain surgery. Drove me crazy on a regular basis. Was chronically depressed. Occasionally abusive. These things I understand.
And she was deaf. That one remains elusive.

Many people do not realise that the word "deaf" covers a vast spectrum of hearing loss.

It may range from complete (or profound, to use the audiological term) deafness, where nothing at all can be heard, to a very slight hearing loss where one may experience difficulty in catching everything that is being said. Between these two extremes, of course, is a vast range of hearing loss. Very briefly, the range might go like this: profound/severe/moderate. I am severely deaf, which means that I can hear pretty much everything you throw at me with my hearing aids in - right now I can hear the noise of my fingers clattering away on the keyboard, and the faint hum of computers in the background - but once you take out my hearing aids, I can hear nothing except for very low sounds. (This means I can hear you if you're male and you talk right into my ear.)

Of course, this only goes for me, and someone else who describes themselves as severely deaf may hear differently again. I have a friend who is completely deaf in one ear - she has no useful hearing in it at all, and gains no benefit from a hearing aid in that ear - and partially deaf in the other, in which she does have a hearing aid. Like me, she communicates orally, through speech. She is slightly deafer than I am, however, and the telephone for her is not so useful as it is for me. I can manage quite well on the telephone, if you're prepared to spend some time making sure I've got what you said; she can't. She is also much more reliant on lipreading than I.

A cracking voice resonates and words are spoken which are registered in the mind as pain, then anger, then pure lustful rage. The severity of the words typically determines the quickness in which the rage overwhelms. When the mind has accomplished routing the message it has then to delve into the archival series of events and experience that form a history and use them to attach significance to the external stimuli. A cracking voice, red eyes, and shimmering trails along cheeks all indicate sadness or grief almost immediately and such elements play an important role in the severity of the message. If the words interepreted by the mind are damning enough, no further thought or analysis is necessary.

Some men may listen. Some men may be recalled. Some men may stop to fathom or even consider. Some.

“He… was just walking me home," she tells him. "I didn’t think he could do this to me. He seemed nice... oh God, please...” Her sound as subsequent noise drowned out by the loud roar exploring the corners of the mind when the connections have been made. The vast emptiness that reigns over the mind is filled with an overwhelming pressure as the physical sensation of sound brimming from ear to ear presses and pounds against the skull. The mind needs to relieve such immense pressure and to force anything but the cause of the pressure to bear the brunt of the release is out of the question. It is rage, truly, but rage that must be directed along the proper channel else the man should explode within himself.

“I need you here with me. Don’t leave.” A gentle hand tightly gripped around a wrist. “Please, come back? We’ll call the police...” All physical sense is pounded away by the beating drums, all touch becomes meaningless save for the only touch that the mind can fathom, which is not this touch. Touch, like anger, does not express that which is in the man's mind--the pairing of the terms "pulsing" and "thickness" may suffice. It is the compulsive need to feel flesh pounded beneath flesh as so much worthless hamburger is pounded by the hammer. A human equated to meat purchased at the butcher shop--such is the only type of thought that can exist. Gentleness is impossible in the cacophany of the enraged mind.

“Don’t do it! He’s not worth it! Babe, pl--” Static in the background as the man steps toward the door and his hand pulls it open; his back to the cracking voice and rosy cheeks as thick wood is slammed against thick wood and the silence of street lamps buzzing in the night overtakes him. All things are as indiscernable shadow beneath the glowing orb of hatred and rage. There is nothing save for the face, and the act, and the belief that it has to happen. No, more than belief. A desire, a lustful desire to commit the act, to carry it out in full. It must be understood that it is not an emotion in and of itself, but merely an extreme extension of anger. It is anger that people most often find themselves in the company of. The deafening presence of silence and screaming rage that simultaneously take hold of this man's mind is a rare occurrence, and some people may be fortunate enough never to experience such a state of being. It is as drowning, and sinking helplessly below the surface of the water until there is only a pressure from within to take action and seek relief. He must break the surface or allow himself to drown.

The man as he was is now the man as he is, just as the man as he is will be the man as he will be when the ever-present thunder subsides and he will sit in a pool of blood and he will weep.

Fists clench as the feet pound the pavement and the throbbing in his mind continues its irregular assault on the senses. Every twig, leaf, and wrapper combust beneath the soles of his shoes as every step takes him further along the only path. The scattered mass of buzzing rages around him. As fallen crystals, raining down, striking him and all that surrounds him. Clinking and clicking and insanity's relentless attack upon the core of the self. Louder, more expressive, sharper by the second in the focused barrage... him... hit... hurt... hunt... hollering... happines, lost forever. She is taken, she is gone, she is not as she was and she will not be and louder still, horrid loudness pressing and hurting and wanting to explode from his eyes and lead him and it hurts. Groaning, hoping to drown out the sound yet it lingers and he must be rid of it, you see? He must be rid it, he must be rid of it, he must be rid of it.

A light shines down on the path's direction and he turns a corner, physical and nowhere in the vicinity of emotional. It is there, as it was there before. The familiar sights; unfamiliar maddening screeching. Further still, by steps, and farther away as the echo returns to him. A reflective door returns the sound to him and his body begins to feel the crushing weight of the house inside the door. Before it was steps on stairs and ringing bells. Laughter inside, and calmative conversation. Trusted communication betrayed by lustful howling and it must be silenced, it must be made to stop.

She must have yelled, she must have wept loudly in bewilderment. The echo from such noise will be horrible and glorious and a relief unheard of in all of man's existence.

A massive shockwave when flesh meets wood, and he leans forward to brace himself when the imminent occurs and the wood gives way to a man from which all the world's madness flows.

"Hey, what the fuck? What're--" The first contact falls between a fist and the face of nothing. A nothing. The mind registers the face of the man in the doorway as nothing. So much hamburger. No one cares for hamburger. Pounds the hamburger. Pounds it into the wooden ground beneath his feet.

Flesh ripped open, bones cracking, blood amassing as strike after strike falls upon the cause of the horrid symphonic melody in the man's mind. This is responsible; this does not deserve what is given, what is bestowed, what is gifted to all creatures. He took more than he is right to do and gave what he should not have and now, here, in a hallway, on the wooden ground, beside a black wall and a black table and a black rail the noise will cease.

The feeling of rhythm. Rapid beating against open palms. Painful jolts as fists strike flesh and bone and hands clamor desperately, scratching a face, pulling an ear. Words uttered yet not understood as the mind’s walls reflect a deafening roar—the desperate gasp for life, unheard.

Deaf [OE. def, deaf, deef, AS. de�xa0;f; akin to D. doof, G. taub, Icel. daufr, Dan. dov, Sw. dof, Goth. daubs, and prob. to E. dumb (the original sense being, dull as applied to one of the senses), and perh. to Gr. (for ) blind, smoke, vapor, folly, and to G. toben to rage. Cf. Dumb.]

1.

Wanting the sense of hearing, either wholly or in part; unable to perceive sounds; hard of hearing; as, a deaf man.

Come on my right hand, for this ear is deaf. Shak.

2.

Unwilling to hear or listen; determinedly inattentive; regardless; not to be persuaded as to facts, argument, or exhortation; -- with to; as, deaf to reason.

O, that men's ears should be To counsel deaf, but not to flattery! Shak.

3.

Deprived of the power of hearing; deafened.

Deaf with the noise, I took my hasty flight. Dryden.

4.

Obscurely heard; stifled; deadened.

[R.]

A deaf murmur through the squadron went. Dryden.

5.

Decayed; tasteless; dead; as, a deaf nut; deaf corn.

[Obs. or Prov. Eng.]

Halliwell.

If the season be unkindly and intemperate, they [peppers] will catch a blast; and then the seeds will be deaf, void, light, and naught. Holland.

Deaf and dumb, without the sense of hearing or the faculty of speech. See Deaf-mute.

 

© Webster 1913.


Deaf

To deafen.

[Obs.]

Dryden.

 

© Webster 1913.

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