Shatner Interview

Driving to town one day, I heard a portion of a Scott Simon interview with William Shatner. I was really touched by something he said. I went to NPR to check out the script of the interview so I could get it right in my sharing of it.

Shatner was talking about his inner ear condition that started 10 or 15 years ago, tinnitus. “A lot of people have it,” he explained to interviewer, Scott Simon, “A lot of returning veterans have it. It’s caused by a number of things, age being one of them, medication and mostly traumatic sound. A lot of engineers have it. The cilia in your inner ear dies – some of it dies – and this code of silence that you had when you were born is broken, and so it is brain activity (that you hear). It drove me mad. I thought I was going to lose my mind.”

Simon: “Can I ask you to help us understand what it sounds like, what it feels like?”

Shatner: “Turn on a television set without a station. A lot of people have different kind of sound. But the most common and mine is this hiss static. During the time I was going to the doctor, they attempted to reach the nature of the sound, so they had an instrument that played all kinds of sounds. They tweeked the machine until they reached me. And when they reached the same timber and tone of my sound, I broke into tears. Somebody had hacked their way through the jungle of sound where I was totally alone in my agony and somebody reached me and it just moved me to tears.”

I hope this story touches something familiar in you. It did for me.

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One Response to Shatner Interview

  1. Chris Jeub says:

    Interesting. This reminds me of the very few times I actually hear silence. I remember the first time noticing it in a deer stand at the cabin, Mom. I hear it when I go elk hunting here in Colorado. There is absolutely nothing to hear — no appliances running, no outside wind, no distant highway, no nothing. There is always this soft hum in my ears, the inner noise as Shatner calls it, what I have called over the years “total silence.”

    I guess there is a sound of silence, and it is a pleasant sound, one that keeps me going back to the mountains every autumn for harvest season.

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