“Lately, I’ll sit down with a blank pad and feel like I really have to dig down deep to get my own voice to come out over the “sample choir.” It’s a very strange feeling, like a conductor trying to sing over the orchestra, and is, I believe, a fairly new one for artists.”Â
-Brian Christian, as quoted by David Shields in Reality Hunger.
Throughout the years, I’ve developed a habit of unplugging from the Internet, more so over the last two years. Between the blogs, the tweets and the Facebook updates, coupled with the day-to-day sounds of life outside, I find it difficult to shut out the noise.
Much is made of the authorial voice. When to suppress it, when to let it bellow through the prose, but never how to discover it, or how to recognize it. The prevailing thought is to worry less about how to find your voice. I would contend that voice, amid all ideas mined, is important to a writer’s sanity.
Everyone has an opinion. I’m fortunate to live in a country that doesn’t gun its citizens down for said expression. And yet, somehow, opinion has transformed into obnoxious: the polarized scream-fests on the news, the flame wars on Twitter and in the comments section of my favorite blogs, the pithy beefs aired out on Facebook. Everyone has a voice; some don’t know when to shut up.
The cliche goes, “silence is golden.”Â In real life, I’m an introvert. I’m used to hearing my own voice in my head. And once upon a time, when I started writing, reaching and listening to my second, deeper voice (the writer in me, perhaps?), was easier. Taken for granted, maybe, like breathing. Like peace and quiet.
No gadgets in London. This is no luddite’s manifesto—it is a mere declaration of unplug. A recall of sorts: to remind myself that the matrix is a movie and marriage aside, I am quite alone on Earth.
My thoughts are still under my agency.
Yes, it is the current mode to let it flow, flow, through the wire in byte-sized blurbs. London evokes, however, a chance to reclaim something lost amid the glittering voices scattered across monitors and capacitive screens, each in need to be stars, as celebrities and constellations garner attention and lowly humans, me too, adapt to new ways of being heard.
I want to be alone, as a father surrounded by family still retreats, as a woman takes in a lover and still recedes. I want to know, once again, the voice I’ve come to trust and curse without the choir clawing for something basic, bread or acknowledgement.
I feel it—do you?—in the era of message, where everyone speaks up to sell you something: maybe a self-help product or $199.99 seminar to get you published or address your fears or tell you that yes, you are complete.
Everyone has something to say and for two weeks, I’d like to disengage from the ether and return to the world, dystopian as ever, and remember the sole voice, hear its truths, and feel no need to share them with the world: to be silent and selfish.