Friday, 24 April 2015

The voices in my head - an experiment

So you might actually think I'm mad after this.

The thing is, I really do hear voices. Sometimes. It happens when I'm very tired - literally falling asleep where I sit. It's not an auditory thing (I don't "hear them in my ears") but a mental one. Like a radio dream, in which I'm surrounded by a lot of voices mumbling away over each other, and if I pay attention I can occasionally catch a louder sentence.

The individual voices often have very strong accents or patterns of speech (Shakespearian, say). They tend to be gendered neutral or masculine.  They aren't addressing me directly, they're just talking.

So I decided to write them down as they occurred for a few days and actually see what they were saying. Am I tuning in to cellphone frequencies? Do I have a multiple personality disorder? Are my inner Jungian Archetypes getting uppity? Am I a medium? Is this a key to unlocking writing creativity?

[NB: Until writing this post I hadn't looked back over my notes, so this is as new to me as it is to you, gentle reader]

"One particular phonecall, and her body will be found."

[American drawl:] "How ya feelin'? Y'alright, kid?"

[Northern English, rough male:] "You'll find yer flying to work, like."

"Maybe your recurring symbol is an EXCLAMATION MARK."
"We might ask Clarinson - I'll leave it up to you."

"End of't stick, Daisy."

[Posh, female:] "He hasn't much, if I only give him £400 a month."

"So, Hornsley ... the Queen will never hear our messages."

"Have you seen it?" "No, I don't think I have."

"Apparently it is synonymous in Lancashire."

"What, you don't really remember me? What are you doing here?"

"With weird hooks on their hands"

"He does that thing with his toes..."

"My son-in-law's is a very assured tactic."

"Well, I thought you might not be my thing."

[1950's BBC newsreader:] "The group has now taken control of Glasgow, as the working classes..."

Oh dear! Given the near-total lack of content, I'm inclined to assume that my brain subvocalises nonsense on a grand scale. My speech centres must be in gear, churning out grammatically-structured but meaningless sentences like froth ... and sometimes I can listen in, that's all.

Damn it guys, I so wanted to be psychic!


Jeremy Edwards said...

This sounds similar to what happens to me sometimes—under those very circs, i.e., on the threshold of falling asleep. It's a dream-type phenomenon, I assume.

Jo said...

Maybe your are! It certainly sounds like radio frequency noise.

How ... weird.

I've only had two remotely similar experiences - one when I was tired and drunk and I sort of fell into a waking dream while still talking to friends at a party - I carried on the dream-conversation out loud, and everyone looked at me in confusion. The two halves of my brain working at once was a weird experience.

The other time was very brief and kind of personal. What would make the most sense was that it was a recently dead person, and it was in the of context the situation. Nothing similar has ever happened since.

I wonder are these snatches of stories from the depths of your writer brain? Maybe you run dialogue all the time in some part of your head, and when you get tired, it becomes more apparent!

Janine Ashbless said...

"Maybe you run dialogue all the time in some part of your head, and when you get tired, it becomes more apparent!" This is what I suspect. I think most of the time it's screened out by my conscious brain, but the sound-baffles drop as I fall into sleep. Brains are weird things!

zak said...

Stephen King talks about this quite a lot. He reckons it's just something that happens to creative, imaginative people and I think he's broadly right (because, yeah, I get them as well.)
Though it could be that they happen to everyone and writers or other artsy types are the ones who actually listen to them.

Janine Ashbless said...

I'm rather relieved! thanks Zak!