Monday, July 25, 2005

Voices in my head

This post brought to you by Denise Riley's essay "The Inner Voice," published in the Readings section of the June 2005 Harpers (which in turn was adapted from her longer essay "A Voice Without a Mouth: Inner speech in the journal Qui Parle, to which I do not subscribe).

This excerpt in Harpers got me thinking about inner voices, or thoughts, or the words you say to yourself in your head, or the Martians, or whatever you like to call them. In it, Richards brings up the fact that everyone "hears" these voices (or this voice) all the time. Sometimes it talks to you, tells you what to do, tells you what you did wrong, or even sings and plays music for you. It can also act like a whole theater troupe of people you know and have seen and recreate entire scenes from your life, with a certain amount of creative flair added in.

The thing is, you "hear" this voice, but it doesn't really sound like anything. I mean, mine kind of talks like me (that is, in English, with my mannerisms), but it doesn't have any sound to it (this blows my mind in the same way that you see dreams, but you don't really see them). It also has its own peculiarities that don't come out when I actually talk (mostly things like repeating itself over and over again, or singing some phrase it said earlier in the day to the tune of the last song it heard, if I talked to you the way my head-voice talks to me, you would not be my friend. And yet, I'm fond of my head-voice). And no matter how well you know someone, you can never really know what their inner voice is like, even if they spend every moment telling you what it just told them. Does that mean that the inside voice is a more true you? Or a more raw one? Or maybe just a pre-you, before all the mistakes get straightened out?

And what are they good for?

I've been thinking about this for a few days, and I think the number one thing my inner voice does for me, besides all the random things mentioned above, is compose things I am going to write and say later in the day. My inner voice actually writes almost all of my correspondence in advance, and if I have something that I have been planning to say to you, my inner voice said it to me a few dozen times first. It also occasionally drives me crazy with songs I don't even like (or maybe the true me loves them!)

So, what I want to know is, what does your inner voice do for you?

[Final note, if you read this essay on the bus, I think it may have a tendency to make you more thoughtful about the realm of inner voices than you otherwise would be. So, if you aren't totally into this post, maybe you should print it out and take it with you on your next bus ride. Seriously.]

6 comments:

archivaria said...

nobody's touching this post. it's way too thought-provoking and deep. i say bring on the mustard innuendo!

kristykay said...

Yeah, I do work much better when I keep it light -- that's why I spiced things up with the baby pic!

archivaria said...

which is cuter than all other things, and needs to be kept away from sunlight.

kristykay said...

Yeah, I'm not sure where these have been stored, although I'm pretty sure its in a box in the closet. Perhaps its just the fading of those crazy 70s color dyes? I think part of it was my dad's scanner that was in the process of crapping out when he scanned this one. I kind of like the effect, though...

Joolie said...

Usually my inner voice is almost subverbal, but sometimes it surfaces and provides a blow-by-blow narration of my actions for me. (She typed clumsily, pausing to take a sip of beer. Etc.) It's pretty annoying, but like when you get a song stuck in your head, it's hard to get it to stop.

The funny thing is, sometimes when I've been reading a lot of a particular author it'll narrate in his or her style. Trust me, you do not want Joyce Carol Oates narrating your entire afternoon.

kristykay said...

I have the same thing happen with books -- and a similar thing with movies as well, although that turns into more of a mood than an actual narration. This was especially true when I was a kid and would spend an entire day reading a book all at once - my adult life tends to get too many distractions for that kind of focus.