My original intention for this post travel post was to be all about the trip and lots of pictures and stories from Spain…however on occasion conversations just come out of nowhere that get you thinking. It all started with a book in mind but a conversation about a quantum physics theory, stick with me here… I was sent an article by a friend about scientists that were looking into the reactions of atoms and part of their conclusions from the experiment were that the future may be able to affect the present.
I am currently reading The End of Mr Y by Scarlett Thomas, I hadn’t gotten very far through the book at the point of this discussion, but there was a lot of talk about thought experiments; like the one that sparked the above theory. At the time I was recounting some of the very interesting points that the author brings up, I wont go into too much detail, because I wouldn’t explain it very well and the book is well worth reading. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, I think she mentioned that she wasn’t an avid reader, I’m sure there was a Harry Potter remark thrown in and a comment on movies based on books but our exchange lead to an interesting discourse on inner voices.
When I read a book, I can hear it in my mind, it’s a bit like when I write, I hear it as if someone is talking to me. My inner voice is English speaking; because I am and I would worry if there was a voice in my head that spoke Japanese; however it is not my voice, it doesn’t have any accent and it doesn’t really have a gender. It’s hard to think of it when I’m not reading but my inner voice seems to be able to adapt to many situations in novels because it is fairly androgynous.
The character could be English or American or Indian, it wouldn’t matter, whilst my mind would pick out the characteristics of their culture, I would be able to transfer seamlessly between them because the voice is similar. It’s the same with appearance, I can picture extreme features like the characters race or if they have tattoos or scars but the general facial characteristics are never clear, they don’t really have an identity, they are just pictures of mostly faceless people that drift around my mind throughout the story.
Funnily enough if the lead character is a female I can picture it from the perspective as if I am that woman, and then can have moments where I am again observing the scene, like a fly on the wall. The only time that might change is after a movie, if I try to re-read a book after seeing the movie I do tend to picture the actors or at least some of their features, it definitely changes the experience for me, but not always in a positive way. Sometimes imagining an actual person as the character makes the reading experience more jarring as my mind takes a little more time picturing their face than getting through the story.
My colleague’s experience is entirely different.
Her inner voice is her voice, so she finds it very difficult to immerse herself in a lot of books or get through them for that matter. She told me that she read The Colour Purple by Alice Walker, which she thought was an amazing book, but couldn’t enjoy it as much as she would have liked because she couldn’t connect with the story. She said that because she is an entirely different nationality and race she found it hard to relate to the characters; throughout the book she could only hear herself, a white Scottish ginger lass. However when she watched the movie she felt she was able to get a much better feel for the story, she could hear what the accents should be and felt she could understand more of what the emotions would really feel like.
I found it amazing that the experience was so profoundly different, I know that there are people that enjoy reading and others that really don’t, but its interesting to think that someone might not enjoy reading because of how it sounds in their head as opposed to not liking the story.
I know it might not be as interesting to everyone, but I always enjoy it when I find a new perspective on something.