“New” DFW!

…in The New Yorker!

Fiction. Yeah. Sure.

“My surfeit of religious interest also had to do with the frequency and tenor of the “voices” I regularly heard as a child (meaning up until roughly age thirteen, as I recall it). The major reason that I was never frightened about the voices or worried about what “hearing voices” indicated about my possible mental health involved the fact that the childhood “voices” (there were two of them, each distinct in timbre and personality) never spoke of anything that wasn’t good, happy, and reassuring. I will mention these voices only in passing, because they are both not directly vital to this and also very hard to describe or convey adequately to anyone else. I should emphasize that, although “make-believe” and “invisible friends” are customary parts of childhood, these voices were—or appeared to me as—entirely real and autonomous phenomena, unlike the voices of any “real” adults in my experience, and with manners of speech and accent that nothing in my childhood experience had exposed me to or prepared me in any way to “make up” or combine from outside sources. (I realized just now that another reason that I do not propose to discuss these childhood “voices” at length is that I tend to fall into attempts to argue that the voices were “real,” when in fact it is a matter of indifference to me whether they were truly “real” or not or whether any other person can be forced to admit that they were not “hallucinations” or “fantasies.” Indeed, one of the voices’ favorite topics consisted in their assuring me that it was of no importance whether I believed they were “real” or simply parts of myself, since—as one of the voices in particular liked to stress—there was nothing in the whole world as “real” as I was. I should concede that in some ways I regarded—or “counted on”—the voices as another set of parents (meaning, I think, that I loved them and trusted them and yet respected or “revered” them: in short, I was not their equal), and yet also as fellow-children: meaning that I had no doubt that they and I lived in the very same world and that they “understood” me in a way that biological adults were incapable of.) (Probably one reason that I fall automatically into the urge to “argue for” the voices’ “reality” is that my “real” parents, though they were wholly tolerant of my believing in the voices, obviously viewed them as the same sort of “invisible friend” fantasies I mentioned above.)”

~ DFW, All That


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