The Cicada

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When I was little, I didn’t know that cicadas existed. I thought the sound they made was just the overwhelming sound that the earth made when it got hot. I remember specifically standing on the street corner and thinking about what that sound could be, and concluding that it was the sound the heat made on the earth in the summer.

This year the cicadas in my neighborhood were very, very loud, to a point where walking down the sidewalk between the rows of trees was almost disorienting. This childhood interest in the sound reawakened it me.

But this time I didn’t want to know what made the sound (by this time in my life I already knew that), but I wanted to know why and when and how, but more importantly, I wanted to know the anthropological and cultural significance of that sound throughout all of human history. It’s one of those things, like looking at the stars or shitting, that humans have partaken in since way back. A bit of digging led me to a slew of delightful ancient Japanese poems about the cicada which I enjoyed and treasured very much. It also led me to the ancient Greek poem which I rendered in this lithograph.

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