What it does, we have done for years in our own
ears and heads, encoding and decoding,
undoing performances, restoring them to their notes
from which we perform, on which we work our own
will, attending as we please, or ignoring
whatever we will, whatever is displeasing,
surface noises, for instance, the hiss we’d hiss
if we supposed these mere machines could hear
or react to our reactions. They boost here
and then diminish there, to return to a state
better than real, if not truer than true.
What possibilities are there for engineers
to tantalize us with, what high-tech tricks?
Dolby meals? Dolby sex? What Dolby
days and nights can we spend, lolling on some
Dolby beach? Thus, must the dead dream
their lives’ perfections, parodies, and yearn,
in a heaven where the slag-heaps are pure gold,
for incidental grit, for imperfections.

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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 5 Number 9, on page 51
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