“Who’s that voice? Whose voice? Yours. Huh? Your voice. Mine? Mine. Which voice? The voice you’re talking to me with. This voice? No, the voice you’re thinking with? That voice? No, the voice you address yourself with. Oh, yes. I know that voice. No—not that one. The one that calls you by your birth name. The third person voice? Kind of. The voice that sits on your third person shoulder. The parrot voice? Not quite. The voice that your parrot tries to imitate. I hate the parrot I’ve been given. I want a falcon. Who’s voice does the falcon have? His father’s. Because…Because he hasn’t managed to shake off the voice of his father that’s been left inside him like a landmine. But one day he will. And when this happens? He’ll start writing. A memoir? A memoir. Whose voice will narrate the audio book of your future memoir? The same voice I read with. Whose voice is that? I know what it sounds like. It is more familiar to me than the eyes of my firstborn, closer than the fragrance of the woman I lost and unlost then made my wife. Whose voice is it? I don’t have a name for her. Her? Her. You have “a her” inside you? No. You said so. The voice is “a her.” There is no “she.” I’m trying to keep up with you. Good. Is her voice the same voice you write with? What kind of writing? Emails? No. Who is your email voice? There are a number. Tell me about one of them? For people I do not like, I write with the voice of Jonathan Franzen. And to the people you like? Werner Herzog. Do you speak German? No. But Werner does? Fluently. He says he does not dream. But he narrates many films. The films are dreams he cannot dream. Who is your Facebook voice? It’s like me but cooler than me. Who is your blog voice? It’s like me but less edited than me. Who is your judgment voice? It’s like me except it detests me. Who is your letter writing voice? On the annual occasion I write a letter, this voice is David Foster Wallace. That’s … a bit … Gauche? I know. I read a biography on him. He wrote heartfelt letters to his author friends. They’re inspiring. His email voice, on the other hand, was perfunctory. You do know that all imitation ends in failure? I don’t imitate. I am not making forgeries. I am not mimicking. I am not parroting. Then? I summon. You summon? I summon. Who is this voice, the voice of the mystic inside you? She is a lady I met in a library when I was six years old. She told me that all the secrets worth knowing could never be known. She smelt of dead earth. She made me feel the coldness of the room that was hidden to every other child there. She helped me see the colours in shadows. She petrified me. She made me want to never die. Did you ever write to her? I did but I didn’t know how to address her. How do you address yourself? As though I were yet to appear on screen. Do you have any cameo voices? Many. But I don’t recognise them. They are famous in other countries. Who is the voice you confide in your analyst with? That’s between my analyst and me. Who is the voice you seduce with? That’s between my Id and my Ego. Who is the voice you narrate the sex act with? You mean that impoverished lexicon of noun, verb, noun and leaden adverb? Fuck me. Suck me. Ooh, baby. Harder. Yeah. Etc. Etc. Yes. Who is that voice? That’s between my tongue and their … [Silence] Who is the voice you lie with? I never lie. How do I know? Read my lips. Whose lips are those? Who else’s could they be? Can I touch them? That’s highly irregular. I’m not recording this. Then how will we know this happened? You’ll tell me. I’ll tell you. OK. OK. Who is the voice that tells you your life has taken the wrong turn and you’re heading to a steep fall where you’ll burst into flames and return to the universe? That’s easy. Tell me. No. Why? Because—if I do, then, that voice will go away. Who says? They say. When? Now. Now? This moment. If you wanted to kill me this second—for no other reason than there is a voice from time immemorial that has told you, and all of us, that killing is incongruent with the ways of the world, with what it means to be normal, virtuous—is there a voice that would try and stop you? Is it the same voice that has made you not kill before? Why do you sound so certain? It’s an assumption people make. That? That everyone we meet has not killed someone else. Because? That voice is a voice everyone hears; the opposite is the stuff of movies and genocides. If I were to kill you now, it would be because there is no voice anymore. That regulator— perhaps time, or, whatever makes time do what time does—this has broken, and the angels have gone away. The angels that listen to the voices inside? The very same. They wander among us. They eavesdrop. When you know there’s no one listening, do you stop speaking with all your voices inside? Yes. Does that ever happen? Not yet. But it will? It will. How do you know? Because, you told me. Many years ago. In the library. You remember. Yes. You looked different back then, but, you sounded just…like…this.”
Written for the exhibition We Took the Image and Put the Sound too Loud, curated by Fawz Kabra, at CCS Bard (24 March – 26 May, 2013).