Wednesday, June 10, 2009

i'm sorry i'll read that again, again*

Often it comes to me to wonder what it is that happens in a persons head when they read the wrong** thing.
Sometimes it feels like a variation on the Freudian slip - innermost desires blurting out of mouths with very little mediation in between. The (over)hearing of this moment being a (un)confessional act, a place of some small embarrassment, an almost miraculous insight into the other. And a place of rawness, of exposure.
And I suppose this could be extended to the moment in which the words coming out of one's mouth are utterly incongruous with the words running though one's head - leaving out the 'soy' in the 'soy latte', ordering a muffin when I wanted beans... and the less banal, also. What of the moments when you thought 'Miss ~' (your teacher), and instead said 'Mum', to general mirth?
What do these moments mean? Did that child in fact want to ask for their mother? Was that the moment that the teacher stepped in as a maternal figure? Or is this random coincidence? A conjunction of connected mental processes that pronounces odd words at odd moments? A kind of illness or symptom of a greater ill - the result of, say, an oxygen-deprived brain?
How about the moment when the reader switches pronouns, skips a sentence, changes ''tis' to 'it is', reads an accidentally doubled word as one, or doubles a single word? What can be read into that? Ought we to read into it? And what is the mental process that happens when these various 'mishaps' occur?
Perhaps in these moments we reveal surprising and inconsequential things about ourselves - our self-consciousness about taking on the written linguistic style of an enlightenment philosopher, put in the light of our eagerness to imitate present-day accents; our glib introduction of a new synonym, as a refusal to stumble over a word with unknown intonations. Inconsequential, but not of no import. These pieces make you. And break you apart.

* being also the title of an exceptionally funny BBC radio comedy program, starring such items as the Gibbon Stuffing Song
** 'wrong' being an exceedingly relative term, let us suspend disbelief for a moment, and admit that though this reading may be in fact right-oh-so-right for the moment, this may but be a momentary lapse, and one may in fact desire to know what is actually on the page in front (or at least the relation of that to the read)

No comments: