Speaking and Being Spoken

I love when the words come to me, when they surge through me, when they give me the urge rather than the other way around. All I want is to be spoken — not by the media or some other unsavory force but by the cosmic winds of delight and articulation.

This is my affinity for the rant — it is a temporary possession that takes hold and, ventriloquist-like, makes me speak. It is my predilection for taste notes — the way a sensual experience grabs hold of one’s elan vital with one hand and words with another and voila: this tequila is rambunctious, peppering the tongue with spice before finishing in a subtle vanilla finale.

Too often, I feel a different compulsion to speak, a need to articulate some kind of social or professional discourse — “How are you? Great” followed by some witticism; or else, “Great to be here; this is an interesting project” before turning on the inevitable PowerPoint deck. In these instances, I feel less like I’m being spoken and more like I have to speak, summon the right words in order to maintain my place in this less-than-desirable social contract.

This may seem ironic. After all, I’m saying that my inspiration — which is not as much my inspiration as much as it is inspiration in general — is a kind of passivity: my greatest eloquence — or greatest joy in elocuting — comes from being spoken by the world. And when I am in fact compelled to speak by the terms of the social, I am not being spoken but being made to speak.

And being made to speak is exhausting work. This is why I spend a tremendous amount of time alone.

Ah, but being spoken is glorious — it’s a kind of exquisite molestation by the cosmos, words and affect working in conjunction, making my mind and body and mouth and fingers move just so, a generous choreography. And all I have to do is lend the cosmos my body, my thoughts. All I have to do is reach out the universe with tendrils at once visible and invisible and invite the cosmos in.

Spinoza says that power is the ability to be affected (at least I think that’s what he said; I might have made that up). The more generous one is, the more generous the world is and the more powerful, the more articulate and articulated, one becomes. TC mark

image – Matthew Rogers

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  • David St Bernard

    This was a difficult article to read. It wanted to be prose, and I refused to treat it as such.

    • David St Bernard

      As for the sentiment, I too love “being spoken”. I love having the winds of passion course through my body, and my voice is played like a harp, as I watch in admiration that the words coming out can be claimed as my own.

      Except when I'm angry. Then, I'm both in admiration and in shock.
      Sigh…. Take the bad with the good, I guess.

    • David St Bernard

      As for the sentiment, I too love “being spoken”. I love having the winds of passion course through my body; my voice being played like a harp, as I watch in admiration that the words coming out can be claimed as my own.

      Except when I'm angry. Then, I'm both in admiration and in shock.
      Sigh…. Take the bad with the good, I guess.

    • um

      personally most 'public wanks' are a little hard to swallow

  • http://twitter.com/godworm Nicholas Cox

    It's funny: Last night I read the preface to Thomas Pynchon's *Slow Learner*, which is mainly a savage litany of all the things he did wrong when he was a young writer. One of the smaller things he mentioned was that he overused the word “tendril.”

    When I read that I thought: Hey, I do exactly the same thing and I don't see what's wrong with it. Maybe it's better to vary one's terminology, sure. But having the impulse to overuse the word “tendril” is a good sign—it means you're writing about the right thing.

  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    I like subjects like this so much better than the “How to…” articles.
    Can relate.

  • RamonaCC

    Ironically, I've never been able to find the words to rightfully describe the sensation I feel when the words I find myself saying seem perfect and easy and natural but now I think nothing could describe it better than “being spoken”.

  • http://twitter.com/Angelolz Angela Luffman

    spoken to! spoken to! to! to! to! a voice can speak to you, you can be spoken to by the cosmos. to 'be spoken' doesn't make sense. sorry to be a pedant, but it hindered my enjoyment of your otherwise good article. I believe in the passive genius too, sometimes in the quiet moments you can feel words run through you. Its nice to feel less responsible for your talent

    • sidewalk

      i think he's talking about more the distinction between talking and speaking. talking being his 'speaking', speaking being his 'being spoken'.

      saying useless things to make a social situation less awkward/whatever vs. speaking because you actually have something to say.

    • Daniel Coffeen

      Ah, well, to be a pedant: I was speaking precisely of being spoken — it was the grammatical oddity that I wanted as it speaks in a different voice in which the actor is neither subject nor object. Unfortunately, English doesn't have a middle voice or even much reflexivity (the romance languages are quite reflexive — I call myself Daniel, I sit myself down, the actor being at once agent and object). The cosmos speaking to me just reinforces the self as an independent agent. So “being spoken” was, and is, precisely the point.

      • http://www.facebook.com/chieflybrit Peter Liu

        A good preposition is “spoken through

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