Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Voices Redux

The voices you often hear do not all have their origin in your head.  You hear two Public Broadcasting stations, one originating in San Luis Obispo, the other in Thousand Oaks, each attempting to converge on the presumed opulence of Santa Barbara, each with a different personality, with perhaps forty percent of shared programming.

You mention these two because, Santa Barbara being what it is, quirky, with distinct pockets of weather and demographic, perhaps sixty percent liberal/progressive to forty percent conservative/libertarian, bat-shit crazy, has areas where the signal from each station becomes occluded or crossed with the broadcast band of yet other FM stations.

There you are, driving along, hearing those voices when, of a sudden, you hear others for a block or two before the intended signal comes through once again.  These glitches in man-made voices are somewhat of a comforting reminder of how man-made things are.

You sometimes hear the voice or voices of individuals protesting a range of political agenda, and you have at times heard bullhorn voices from law enforcement agencies, directing you to abandon your living quarters because of the potential danger from a fire that has spread to the trees, shrubs, and underbrush in and about the city.

Another form of voice, sometimes catching you by surprise by its literalness, is an amplified voice of some anonymous travel guide, informing the passengers of a whimsical display of tourist vehicles of some historical intersection, edifice, or reenactment.

These days, there is an almost certain probability you will hear amplified voices inside markets, calling your attention to specials on items you would never buy at any price, or describing such itsms you might well buy from time to time, but describing these in terms and tones that call your intentions to purchase into the arena of doubt.

When you were still using the swimming pool at the Montecito Y, you often heard voices invoking the name of a merchant/explorer from Venice, one Marco Polo, and in certain parts of the lower east side, you hear voices in Spanish advertising the ready availability of sodas, beers, and ices, as these items are meant to be dispensed from pushcarts.

On any given day, these recent years, regardless of your teaching, consulting, or working-at-home writing projects, you are subject to commentary from a wide range of voices, to the point where you not only take them for granted, you don't even try to identify them.

You understand that this is a dangerous business, listening to voices of whom you may to some degree be unsure.  Some time back, you've given in to the approach whereby if the information sounds at all sane and bearing some scent of potential use, you take it in, file it away, then hope you will recall it when an appropriate need arises.

To an increasing degree, a number of voices you hear are from men and women whose written works have moved you to some plateau related to intrigue, curiosity, envy, understanding.  These voices are approximations of what you imagine from reading them what they would sound, speaking their own stories.  This is of some matter to you because of your hope to speak the way you write and write the way you speak.

This is indeed of some matter because of another of the voices you hear, reminding you of the number of handwritten pages you throw away and of the significant number of computer pages you delete before saving an edited one.  Thus the clear and present danger you indeed speak as you write, filled with habit words, repetitions, incomplete sentences, and adverbs.

In a manner you sometimes associate with wealthy playboys who collect a varied stable of cars, sports cars, SUV's and vans, you like to try your hand at "being" or "driving around" in your preferred narrative voice,noting things you see that please or displease you, keeping abreast of your agendas, reminding you to eat meals, suggesting things to wear, and reminding you, if necessary, to take a nap.

Somewhere, in one of your notebooks, you've started a list of the numerous voices you hear, attempting to give them defining names, The Cynic, for example, or The Grouch.

Much of the attention you pay to recognizing and defining your inner voices comes in the service of keeping a lively toolkit for your profession.  

Some professions rely on a pole star for an orientation, and ways to triangulate a way home.  For you, it is the voices.  They are perhaps not so reliable as a pole star, and when one is genuinely lost, the sight of a pole star can be a soothing comfort.  For you, it remains the voices.  Sometimes, if you are lonesome, you will say or do something provocative to get them shouting and arguing.  The ringing clamor is all the navigational tool you need.

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