ASMR looks fundamentally strange from the outside and I’m reconciled to that.
It’s a creative space which has a lot of what I personally consider gobbledeygook. I mean nothing but the best of intentions to most ASMRtists, but there are quite a lot of reiki healers, both sincere and simulated, Youtube Culture Fans, Beauty Culture fans, Crystal people, healing energies people, conspiracy theorists, and just in general, nonsense that it’s impossible to test for its sincerity, because ASMRt is fundamentally, a quiet and private space where I actively do not want to become heavily invested in the personal life and opinions of these people.
As someone who doesn’t believe in the supernatural and whose opinion of the numinous is decidedly rational, this can be offsetting. Personally, I really like the ASMR space for its tangible effect helping me concentrate as I work. It can be an interesting avenue for science fiction and fantasy narrative, and indeed, good ASMR for me wants to do something surreal to make sure that I’m not thinking of it as ‘serious’ narrative. I definitely like stories told through this format, but I know full well the stories are being delivered in extremely stilted ways.
What I think, though, that matters to me a lot about ASMR, and one of the things I find about it so very comforting is the value that the format puts not just on quiet, but on the ambient and constant sounds of the world around us. I’ve talked about the idea of rhyparyography, the notion of artistic exploration of the unimportant, and how the bulk of videogame art exists in the space of artists making ten thousand mundane bookshelves.
ASMR often is drawn not out of exciting or mysterious devices, or elaborate and unique pieces of specialised hardware (though they are useful for the creation of the content). The things that derive sound for ASMR art are almost always definitively unimportant devices. Clacky keyboards. Tin roofs and rain. Pad and paper. Bottles of makeup and lotion.
As someone who surrounds himself with sound and stimuli, in a field that is so often about the quiet contemplation of the complicated, ASMR It encourages us to listen to ourselves
to our environments
and to the small and mundane devices in our life.