e136 electricity – are. you. powerless?

This content is also available in / Ce contenu est également disponible sur: Français

I improvised a story during a power outage at the cottage about sound without electricity


(bell and breath)

It’s Wednesday, July 12th, 2023. Yesterday, at 4.53 pm, the power went out at my cottage and I wanted to make this episode about our dependence on electricity.

So here I am in an analog world, normally, with electricity, but without power, of course, there are no lights.

In the cabin there’s no pump to draw water, though there is a bit of water left in the tank, so I can use a little bit, but it will run out. Of course, there’s a lake out front, so that’s not a problem. 

My phone doesn’t work either. It’s now out of power. 

Importantly, food is being kept cold in the fridge, but of course it’s not being refrigerated and in particular, the ice box is slowly getting warm. Without electricity, it does not work and there’s no backup to refrigeration other than ice, which is the way that it used to be done. 

And there are other things that change, of course : lights in the cabin and the ability to charge batteries and all of that but there are other ways of living. There’s lots of wood here and so I built a fire for lunch and it’s still burning. Might still be good for dinner. 

My point is to take advantage of this opportunity of not having electricity, to think about the things that we might take for granted and that we perhaps don’t need. 

Do I really need to charge my batteries all the time so that my phone works at my convenience?  Are there other things that I could do with less of or not at all.

I invite you to think about that and to listen to the sounds around you without electricity… 

I’m enjoying this moment of non-electricity, which changes my perception of time. I do have battery powered clocks, but I can’t check my phone. I can’t have the radio on to tell me about what’s going on in the world so there’s this sense of disconnection from that world, but it’s also an opportunity to connect to this world. 

Of course, the electricity could go back on at any moment. It’s almost been 24 hours now and it is very serious for those whose lives depend on the electricity in hospitals, but they have backups. 

I guess the ultimate backup is how we used to live so many years ago without electricity :  living more by the sun and by our relationship to the land that’s not mediated by electricity. 

I’ll end with my bell again. Wishing you the pleasures of electricity and the pleasures of not having electricity.

Are. You. Powerless? 



This episode was recorded without any preparation hence is a bit rough around the edges but I liked the flow and fragility in my voice. 

I am grateful and accountable to the earth and the human labour that provided me with the privilege of producing this episode. (including all the toxic materials and extractive processes behind the computers, recorders, transportation and infrastructure that make this podcast possible).

My gesture of reciprocity for this episode is to the Canadian Association for Sound Ecology (CASE).





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To submit audiovisual responses, contact me at claude@conscient.ca and I will send you a link. You can also welcome to submit a link with your response on another media (YouTube, Vimeo, etc)