Inner Voices: Transmission, Translation, Interference

To hear, read, write, voice, perform inner voices as they’re transmitted, translated, interfered with.


To consider thinking as material, mind as receptacle and mediator of voices and sounds.


To merge ideas into identities, thinking-listening-into-writing, the tangles of intellect, body, intuition. Is writing only ever inscription, or is it not also refraction, reflection, erasure, echo, transmission, arrangement?


There’s writing in silence and writing in non-writing. The Italian essayist, journalist, novelist Pier Vittorio Tondelli wondered in 1987, in his series of Fragments of the Inactive Author about these gaps, about the moments of pause for a writer, those moments when he/she looks back at his/her words and asks: who wrote them? Who spoke to me, through me? What did I hear?


To think of writing as listening to a multiplicity of inner voices even during apparently inactive or silent times; of the circularity and short circuits of writing thinking translating listening reading. These circuits demand attention as much as abandon, activity as much as inactivity, undoing and obsession as much as doing and structure.


To listen to, play with, perform, structure or short-circuit the inner voices that speak or sound in the mind when reading and writing.


It is never only writing—it’s a transmission that channels and merges and is interfered with, and works through residues of before, and moves them, and moves.

I am prompted by Clarice Lispector who sought to write the invisible in the mud.

Curious about the intermissions of translation as listening.

Prompted by Henri Michaux as he wrote sparrow music, as he wrote silence stoned by thoughts, and longed to write music to question, auscultate, approach the problem of being.

Prompted by the early meaning of psyche—not only as interiority but as air, breath, an element connecting inner states with the sensuous world.

And because sometimes inner voices voice desire, I am prompted by Rainer Maria Rilke’s Malte Laurids Brigge who copies and rewrites books in the library then finds the sense of it all in the Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, the sixth mysterious one in the series bearing the inscription ‘À mon seul désir’: ‘To my only desire’.



The American poet Jack Spicer said that no matter what message they receive, ultimately mediums speak in their own accent through their own individual bodies. There is an inextricable tie between body and inner voices and yet at the same time, a deep sense of beyond our selves channelled through them and through us in writing, listening, translating, transmitting. What rhythms, what arrangements move them and frame them? Listen to the whispers, speeches, cries of inner voices; to what is deemed ineffable or inaudible and yet is present when you listen, read, think, translate, perform, write; to what sounds and resounds when you appear to be silent.


To interfere with inner voices, translate them into words, complicate them into other sounds, empty them out.


To leave plots behind and present sounds and poetics of thoughts into words performed, messages distorted, whispers, murmurs, the ineffable, the unnameable, the inaudible, movable entities and ideas into presence: present.


Clarice Lispector, A Breath of Life: ‘I’m writing because I don’t know what to do with myself. I mean: I don’t know what to do with my spirit. The body tells a lot. But I don’t know the laws of the spirit: it wanders.’ … ‘Since I was a child I’ve been searching for the breath of the word that gives life to murmurings’. Between thought and words is ‘a tiny difference of less than a millimeter. Before thinking, then, I’ve already thought.’ … ‘I only use reason as an anesthetic… I therefore turn back to my rich interior nothing.’


Writing, vortex-transmission of inner voices never owned, but echoed and passed on through that ‘rich interior nothing’.


‘And now you give the impression of knowing absolutely nothing’, said one of the voices channelled through Elfriede Jelinek’s Her Not All Her.


Muted reiterations dwell on the changing textures of written unforms.

I cannot quite hear inner voices but in half-guessed disturbances.

Tempted by broken utterance, in spite of dissolution and rarefaction, a sonorous nothing, a stuttering reverb.

Transposed and rearranged, cut through by words and voices that won’t be explained, but transformed and shaped as they expire: in proximity rather than in understanding.

Inner voices outstretched beyond the borders of body to be cast over and over again, an echo of echoes, headed toward transformation and change rather than tracing origin and keeping permanence. And the question is not who I am, but whom a self and its words are cast onto, and how. 

Inner Voices: Kate Briggs, Patrick Farmer, Jennifer Hodgson, Dominique Hurth, Signe Lidén, Christian Patracchini, Steve Roden, David Toop, Valerio Tricoli, James Wilkes

Inner Voices will be presented in Aarhus, Denmark as part of WhereWereWe: on Writing, Intimacy, Body, a five-day festival curated by Rhea Dall, Martin Glaz Serup and myself, and produced by Project Art Writing and Litteraturcenter Aarhus.
Godsbanen, Aarhus, 2-6 December 2015

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