Michael's Metaphors of Life Journal header image 2

“The Hum” – Fact, Fiction or Somewhere In-Between

April 21st, 2018 by Michael Dyet

The Hum

Hmmm, could writers exist in a world without the unexplainable?

This week’s episode of the TV series Criminal Minds had a storyline built around a mystery known as The Hum. The Hum is a phenomenon arising from reports of a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming – resembling the sound of a distant diesel engine idling – that is apparently audible only to certain people.

Continuing reports of The Hum have come from the UK, the United States (in particular the New Mexico city of Taos) and even from Windsor, Canada. It can be quite disturbing to those who are unfortunate enough to experience it and it has been linked to several suicides.

As you might expect, there is skepticism from many whether this physical sound actually exists. Many believe it is always traceable to a specific mechanical source. In some cases, this has been proven to be true.

Some experts in the field have suggested a diagnosis of tinnitus – a disturbance of the auditory system generated internally by the auditory and nervous system. Others attribute it to spontaneous otoacoustic emissions which are noises that the human ear generates on its own.

In the case of the West Seattle Hum, researchers suggested it could be the mating call of the Midshipman Fish. This particular explanation certainly seems like a stretch. The bottom line is that reports of The Hum persist that cannot be effectively explained away.

Why does this phenomenon intrigue? Is it because I happen to have an aversion to unwanted noise? When I first moved into the townhouse I now call home, a loud tapping noise in the wall behind the kitchen cupboards drove me crazy for seven months. My landlord finally tracked it to a noisy pipe expanding and contracting in heat and cold.

I suspect my intrigue goes deeper than that and arises from opposing forces in my psyche. There is a part of me that needs to always be in control and always have an answer. On the other hand, the curious side of me, which drives me to write, is frightened by the notion of a world without the unexplainable.

If you follow my blog regularly, you know that I see the world through the lens of metaphor. The unexplainable is where metaphors do their best work. They give us a prism to peer through that takes concepts we have trouble wrapping our minds around and re-envisions them in a way that makes sense and comforts us.

And since I am after all the self-proclaimed Metaphor Guy, mysteries like The Hum (with profuse apologies to those afflicted by it) can be the spice of life and the leaping off point for my muse.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

~ Subscribe to Michael’s Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm at its’ internet home Instructions for subscribing are provided in the Subscribe to this Blog: How To instructions page in the right sidebar. If you’re reading this post on another social networking site, come back regularly to my page for postings once a week.

Tags:   · · · · · No Comments