Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway - February 1st, 2009 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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February 1st, 2009

self-concept and recognition [Feb. 1st, 2009|11:40 am]
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A friend wrote recently in a locked post about the difficulties of staying out of a sad mood when one has a physiological reaction of crying. When tears spring to one's eyes, this person finds, even when it's because it's cold out, it can be difficult to keep one's brain from following along.

And I'm doing that today, because what I have of a voice is a thin and wistful little thing, as though I was tentatively contemplating a great regret or sorrow. It is not my normal quiet voice. It is a quiet voice with a much more limited range, and the center of that range is higher than my norm. Usually when I have a bad cold and my voice goes, the "not quite gone" stage sounds like Princess Leia rescuing Han Solo from carbonite, and I do often go around saying, "You have hibernation sickness. Your eyesight will return in time," for entertainment value in such circumstances.

That is frustrating. This--this is maddening. On the other hand, it is almost certainly more effective in what the body needs, which is for me to avoid making noises, because I don't want to talk at all if I have to sound that wispy and wimpy.

Last night we watched Star Trek: Nemesis (look, just because the segue is invisible doesn't mean it's not there, all right?), and the thing that just baffled me was that the guy they had playing the younger clone of Jean-Luc Picard sounded nothing like Patrick Stewart. I don't mean that accent, I mean the voice, the resonances. Not only did he not sound like Patrick Stewart, he didn't sound like he could ever mature to sound like Patrick Stewart. And he didn't sound like trauma or deliberate change of behavior had given him a different voice. He just sounded like...someone completely unlike Patrick Stewart.

This was boggling to me. To me, Patrick Stewart's voice is the central fact of recognizing him. They could put him in a false nose and a wig and give him the most exaggerated Richard III hunch ever, and he would still be obviously Patrick Stewart, blatantly obviously, because he would still have that voice.

I had not realized how much I felt the same way about myself. I do not have a famous or fame-worthy voice. But it is my voice; it is part of how I am me. When I have something to say, I do not waver and quaver around it like this. If I trail off and end a sentence with a question mark, I mean for the question to be answered, ideally promptly.

When I was in college, we discovered a couple of things: how I could recognize most of my friends from the knees down if they walked past a basement window; how we all knew each other's coats (ah, college in Minnesota); how one friend who had no social trouble with not recognizing us really didn't have a clear idea of what our faces looked like. A few years later, an acquaintance linked me to a picture of a woman he was sure I looked just like. We had no facial features in common. None. Not nose or chin or cheeks or eyes or eyebrows or jaw, not shape of face or shape of head or type of hair (she had the hair I always wanted when I was little, straight and jet-black, but it was not even a similar length to mine, not parted in the middle like mine, just not). From what I could tell in the picture, she had delicate shoulders. Mine are indelicate--wait, that's not it. Mine are strong and broad for the rest of my body size. I suggested that perhaps he meant that she reminded him of me or vice versa? No. We looked alike. He was sure of it. And now someone else in my life has recently turned out to have a fairly low priority on facial features in the processes of how their brain processes recognition, and I'm sort of poking around wondering where I resemble somebody else but I'm not aware of it because the person who sees it is using such different axes of measurement.
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Books read, late January [Feb. 1st, 2009|10:33 pm]
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