For the young man, the voices came on the wings of other sound. When he was driving, he would hear voices from the other cars. When he stood on the pavement and a car drove by him, noise sloughed off the car’s backside like water and resolved into voices, like a bubbling stream of jeering, laughing words. When the room was noisy, individual sounds would break off and form themselves into voices. When the room was quiet, he heard less, but a muffled echo would become a man in the other room. When he moved his leg, his leg could speak to him. When his stomach grumbled, it became an angry reprimand. The voices were like the aftertrace of color images, as if he waved his hand upon the air and left language in its wake. Horrifying language: words which sneered and drawled. He knew these voices were voices, symptoms of an illness, but they sounded real to him, and he could not dismiss the possibility that they were people. No one knows why people hear voices, psychotic or otherwise, but at least part of the story is that those who do read patterns into ambiguity, one reason that people hear voices in cars and find God on the bus. But I have never before met a man who could thrum his fingers into voice and feel that as he moved the air became dense with words.
Tanya Luhrmann. Via John Wilson on Twitter.