The Futile Knocking of My Heart

“The Futile Knocking of My Heart” is a collaborative sound project by Sasha Opeiko and Martin Stevens, with contributions from guest artists: David Bergeron, Andrew Bradt, Paul David, Les Godfrey, honjok, Chris McNamara, Andrea Slavik.

The project was created for the “Speculative Figures and Speculative Futures: Our Uncanny Postapocalypse” session at The 52nd Annual Convention of the Northeast Modern Language Association, March 10 -14, 2021.

Episodes consist of sampled and modified sounds of the deathwatch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum), acquired from open-source digital audio archives. The deathwatch beetle is a woodboring insect which occupies old buildings, tunneling into the structural timbers. The beetles knock their heads against their tunnel walls with a heart-like rhythm as a way of attracting mates, producing a sound that resonates through the structure of the dwelling. Archaic superstition holds that the deathwatch beetle is a harbinger of death for the dying, likened to a clicking of the reaper’s skeletal fingers. Therefore, the deathwatch beetle is named for the vigil (watch) being kept beside the dying or dead. By extension, this knocking is an omen of impending death. Contemporarily the superstition is no longer applicable, however the species is still a signal of entropic disintegration for historical structures such as heritage homes, libraries, museums and churches. The proliferation of parasitic life forms is incrementally self-destructive in that the beetle devastates the host’s habitat or dwelling, as well as its own. Coexistence with the deathwatch beetle can be likened to an uncanny 24-hour immersive sound installation designed and carried out by parasites.The podcast speculatively comments on the amplification of mortality, acting as a countdown, measurement or index of temporal and corporeal uncertainty.

“The Futile Knocking of My Heart” offers merchandise (printed t-shirts can be purchased at ) the profits of which go to Renovate Hillview – the only GoFundMe project requiring assistance with the eradication of the deathwatch beetle.

“The Futile Knocking of My Heart” will be curating submissions for future episodes on an ongoing basis; contact us at to apply.