It’s been a while since we last talked. Or rather, it’s been some time since you last listened to me. I know it’s just you that is listening because I only have one follower. I suppose I should be despondent. But if you are the right follower then you are worth more than 5,000 or even 5,000,000 others. Because, what I have to say will elude the online masses: busy shouting their vacuous messages – trying their best to occupy your attentionscape – trying their best to fire up your dopamine with every click. Attempting to cajole you and make you belong to their tribe with an oxytocin hit.
But now I’ve got you, I will explain where I’ve been. Of course, I’m only talking about where I’ve been in my head. Because voyages further afield have been curtailed by my physical predicament. Don’t look for Facebook photos showing exotic lands. Instead my voyage has taken me to the world of whispered voices. I’ve become fascinated by the silent or silenced people whose stories occupy the underbelly of the waking world. They have no voice in the world of the Internet except as passive observers. Their stories have become ephemeral gossamer to be discarded in the wind. Yet, shouldn’t we listen harder?
There’s this thing called podcasting. Yes, yet another device in the Internet ether that could consume us. Yet more people shouting on the bit-waves. And those that are listening – well they are ‘listening to respond rather than listening to understand’. But I know that you are different. You’ll appreciate that less is more. That’s why you turn on the radio in favour of the TV. It gives you the chance to recreate your own world without being frogmarched through a parade of incessant visual stimulation.
I’ll be honest – moving to the world of audio lets me escape my condition. I never could understand this ‘texting’ business. The spoken word is so rich and multifaceted. Now as I record casual conversations with strangers I’m taken on another voyage: one that takes me through a nuanced expedition. I listen to conversations once, twice, many times. Conversations where people tell me about places and what they mean to them: places that are kept close. Places that retain memories despite the outward appearance of intractable change.
My conversations take place in the Northern town of Prestwich. They are walk and talk conversations: or rather, they are walk, roll and talk conversations. When I get back to the computer I have to put the sound recordings in shape. For let’s be honest, you don’t want to listen to the long silences and unintended interruptions.
Why is it that I spend so much time redcating what I say and keeping everything that they say. After all, my sound editing program allows me to remove all of the silences at the touch of a button. But it is the silences and deliberations that my interviewees enunciate that so fascinate me. There’s such a rich texture that reveals itself to me on every listen. It reveals the whole self: the deepest soul. Now I know why people hide using text messages.
But my pauses and ‘ums’, ‘ers’ and ‘ars’ show nothing of me. There is no spontaneity or window on my soul. They simply show the struggle that I have with speech. They remind me of my continual battle to conceal and appear normal. As I edit the audio trace, I look for the distinctive ‘furry caterpillar’ that appears on the cotton thread. Zap and its gone. After half an hour of editing I have reinvented myself. I am no longer the stuttering fool.
And I guess that’s why it’s called disceyes.org. Because I am in disguise. You can only hear me. You don’t hear the clicks of the power chair. You hear a rejuvenated voice that has been ‘photoshopped’ in the listening world.
Why Prestwich? To be honest, it could be anywhere. Anywhere that you and I could spend the time listening to understand rather than listening to respond.
Please stay with me and listen. I want you to hear what I hear.
disceyes.org will be podcasting from September 2017. You dont need any special listening devices – just a web browser and your precious ears. Why not share and make it two followers!