Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Voices of Reasons

You woke one recent morning to discover a stranger in your bed.  This discovery sends your mind racing.  You have long since evolved away from out-on-the-town pickups.

There is no time for tact here.  "How," you venture to this stranger, "is it that I know you?"

"Oh, please,"  the stranger says.

Trying to cover lost ground, you ask for some hint.

"Just make the coffee, will you,"  the stranger says and that became the clue you needed to complete the circuitry.  After a brief apology, another relative is welcomed to the tribe that is, after all, you.

You would think to know all these relatives by now; you have heard many of them since your early childhood, their voices plangent in your memory.  As such things go, you are still meeting "them," hurriedly printing up name tags for them to wear so that you will be able to call them by name.

They may resemble you in the sense of looking much as you did at a particular age, but they all have different voices and attitudes.

"You call that a sentence?"

"Wait, sentence.  You call that a novel?"

"You're seriously thinking she'd go out with you?"

"XYZ."

Voices surround you, where ever you go.  Even alone in pastoral or oceanfront settings, a lifetime of crowds, groups, family dinners, and congressional clamor evoke themselves into live and alert presences.  Voices persist through meditative solitude, the tenement- neighborhood ambiance of your component selves, arguing the existential question, "What the fuck is Self, anyhow?"

Pick up any longform narrative and the litany of voices commence their beguiling susurrus, potential Sirens, luring you into a story.  You objectify things by giving them voices, thus inanimate objects essay conversations with you.

Take a neighborhood stroll of an evening and buildings, trees, bus benches begin talking to you; the world as iPod, with you listening because their conversation has the ability to interest you, to draw you into the thread of discussion.

Early this morning, as you indulged a celebratory breakfast at Renaud's Patisserie on State Street, a man paused at your table, taking you in as though running a barcode scan on you.  At length, he said, "You're not who I thought you were."

Ever fast on your rejoinders, you said, "Nor am I who I thought."

"Jesus,"  the man said, "not until I've had coffee."

"That may help you, but it won't make me any closer to who you thought I was."

"Listen," the man said, "I came up here to get away from all this--this--" his voice trailed and immediately, Willie, at his own breakfast, two tables away, said, "--existentialism."

"Exactly.  If I'd wanted existentialism, I could have stayed in L.A."

The man soon revealed himself as Peter, tired of his life of editing reality-type films, wanting something of greater substance, something with an audience base somewhat above a mean of fifteen years of age.  He was not, however, enthusiastic about the notion of giving up his current income level.

After a time, Peter took his leave of us, his iPod ear buds firmly in his ears, a muscular impatience evident in his aggressive stride.

"There goes one man,"  Willie observed, "who got no help from his coffee."

You, who more often than not do get help from your morning coffee, scanned the treetops, the surrounding rooftops, the vagrant seagulls seeking some breakfast help from a rack of nearby dumpsters.  Things were talking to you.  There were voices inside and outside you head.  What a splendid day to listen.

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