Faux salut

Podcasts are a wondrous godsend. Podcasts are a terrible hell. Who would have ever thought that I would think "que tu viennes du ciel ou de l'enfer, qu'importe" about voice recordings archived online? What hyperbolic twaddle, I know, I know.  But what I know doesn't stop what I feel; I'm a Rousseau through and through.

I open the podcasts containing your voice and I embed them into my daily life. I can do dishes while listening to your brilliance. You might like that image. Who wouldn't? But I don't listen in that way. At first I sit huddled over the computer, making it my accomplice, as if I'm accessing the filthiest pornography that I must shield from the eyes of others. Your public performance becomes my private cinema. I close my eyes, not to image I'm at the origin, but to imagine better myself as the (one, unique) destination.

When I have the time, I actually pay attention to the content. This is how I remind myself of your intelligence, your way with language, all the things I can access already in your published writing but find again, twinned, in your voice. A double address between the two, but the voice seems easier to detour in my direction, coming from my computer speakers in the context of my open browser tabs. You speak from amidst my daily scene, superimposed upon the supposedly less virtual one of your embodied space.

I'm no longer interested in your brilliance or anything you might be actually talking about after the first listen, in any case, and perhaps not even then, not solely. For your voice offers a seductive difference I like to pretend not to fetishize because I don't take myself for someone easily enchanted by the mundane exotic. But there you have it: the inflections I hear move me and I find the lilts adorable. I am charmed. It's the opposite of Freud's narcissism of small differences.

I let your voice become the soundtrack of my solitary life, the one I spend in front of the computer, the one that intertwines work and pleasure, thinking and playing. Where does all of this fit into the lover's discourse? I am not repeating internally things you have said to me (although yes, I do that at times); I am not carrying on conversations between us in my mind (although I'm guilty of that as well). I turn you into a kind of music. I make you mimic a different kind of presence for me (you could just be in the next room reading aloud, couldn't you? Rehearsing the talk you're giving now, already gave in the past, albeit just yesterday?) I sometimes walk around with my phone pressed to my ear, like so many other people in public, but I'm listening to you reading poetry into my voicemail. (Just that word, voicemail, raises so many possibilities of writing that I am putting into invisible parentheses knowing you have already read them there.)

It's an exquisite torture to play this voice game. The ear, as the heart's receptor, has to accept pain as well as pleasure. I know the rules of the game and the twists that must be performed to sustain the fantasy. The loss is always right there, just a moment in the past or a moment in the future. I am unrepentant and yet ashamed of this conduct.

There's a whole archive that supports it; the whole business of podcasts encourages it. How can I act otherwise, caught in this lover's discourse that enthralls me? Each sound from your mouth finds the little fissure in my heart where it can burrow. Little shafts that also contain soothing salve find their home, no matter their intended audience. From heaven or from hell, who cares?