Read to me, Mr. Gaiman

His voice as if dipped in rubbing alcohol becomes the other mother. The simple innocence of the tone is becoming on a child raised by ghost parents called Nobody Owens. A battered voice dipped in equal parts melancholy and arrogance makes the eldest of the Lilim turn into a wizened old lady from a childhood nightmare.

He is my companion — a giant shadow, a friend like Sirius on the horizon, and unobtrusive moon that is somewhere lost in the folds of the satin sky — for my midnight walks. His voice rings and trills and drums and pulses in one of my ears (one side of my headphones doesn’t work). The universe becomes multiverse as I find myself in a deluge of heard images and vibrating words that journey through the ossicles to set in my temporal lobe. They belong to me, from him to me.

I have been listening to the audiobooks of Neil Gaiman, read by Gaiman himself, as I take my nightly strolls. He takes me away, as my tired feet keep on with their rhythm, and rise above the tiled floor and walk into a fairyland. I am falling in love with his voice, even more so than his stories. Perhaps it is the witchy combination of the two that makes me feel a little less lonely, somewhat more alive when the air is filled with the faint whispers of desert coolers and the sleeping breaths of most people in my neighbourhood.

“I tend to think the experience of hearing a book is often much more intimate, much more personal: you’re down there in the words, unable to skip a dull-looking wodge of prose, unable to speed up or slow down (unless you have an iPod and like hearing people sound like chipmonks), less able to go back. It’s you and the story, the way the author meant it,” expressed Gaiman in his journal.

I love when people read to me, just like I rejoice when their hands go through my hair, ruffling me, pushing my body to deep awareness. Yes, it is intimate.

I remember asking the first person I was ever with to read a poem to me. In bed together, I was nestled in their arms. I opened the said poem (I cannot remember which, it was perhaps a Keatsian ode as I was a lot into Keats back then) on my cell phone. Their voice made an enclosure for us, closer and more comfortable than the four walls or the late afternoon light filtering through the dust-caked window screens. I recognise the memory of hearing, more than the touch itself.

Another time, another person who anchored at this violent shore for an evening, that is to say, it was a hookup. They sent a poem after a couple of days. A written verse, not spoken, about all that I left on their bed to their safekeeping. The scent, a stroke of my fingers, a pause that lasted. It was beautiful in its composition and still, I imbibed it in my mind as if they were reading it to me. The voice, more than the words, found its place in my skin.

What is it in the voice — the shape and sound and stillness of words and their absence thereof — that creates this web for me? Why do I reflect so much on the simple romance of people reading to me?

In a world where we derive pleasure from the visual medium (for instance in pornography where the voice, when present, is but a conduit to artificially heighten the stimuli) in the absence of a sexualised touch? What is voice but an afterthought, something dispensable, something that we can do without to reach the state of release or orgasm?

I am not denying the pleasure derived from listening to a pop song or an orchestral crescendo. I am trying to derive a loose hierarchy of senses to understand what comes first and what matters more that attracts us. I am not talking about phone sex either as it corresponds to particular acts being voiced and exchanged and therefore, the voice is in some ways subservient to the physicality of the actions.

Let me ask you to reflect on something. Think of the sexiest voice that you have heard, listen to it, feel how your body responds to it, and think of the person behind the voice and then yourself in tandem with that image. Is it similar to the response of Joaquin Phoenix’s character to the Scarlett Johansson’s AI-voice in Her?

“The voice is ambiguous, ambivalent, and enigmatic. We don’t
trust things we can’t seize with our eyes and hands. We might squeeze
the beloved’s body in passion or fury, but we can never hold his or her
voice hostage,” writes cultural theorist Dominic Pettman in his book Sonic Intimacy: Voice, Species, Technics (or, How To Listen to the World).

The voice, devoid of the body, is such a strange thing. When we say someone’s voice touched us or made us see an entirely new world, we are defining it by a more specific sense because the voice unto itself does not command the same expression. Still, we are defined by it, and it is characteristic — its tonality, rhythm, pitch, range, et al. — of our personality.

When I think of the voice behind those two poems, whether I heard them or not, I map out the entire person, how I saw their skin and all that lies beneath, how I perceived their lips and tongue and the throat producing those sounds that make a voice.

When I listen to Neil Gaiman, I think of his voice apart as well as a part of the story he weaves and constructs with its plot devices and endings.

In any case, I love it.

Read to me. It may be a bit more or less than romance. It is not always about desire and pleasure. Just read to me so that we can know each other better, as when I take from your voice, I give myself to you too.

This is the second essay in a new series of essays called #Trash. You can check out the previous piece here. As promised, I wrote something sexier as compared to last week. Let me know what you think about this essay, what voices left an impact on you, as well as some good audiobook recommendations. I welcome your feedback and topic suggestions as I would like to keep going with this series at least for some time.

If you liked this piece or anything I have ever written, please consider showing your support for my work by sharing it with others and making a small contribution. Thank you.

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11 thoughts on “Read to me, Mr. Gaiman

  1. Voices which ring deeper or wider at the glottis sound treacly and warm to me, but I’ve only identified sensuality in a voice due to proximity more-so than tone. Proximity and levity, as they coalesce. The listening of audiobooks can mimic that oftentimes, especially when the equipment is crystalline.
    Silence can also be ungodlingly sensual, which I suppose explores the violent dimensions of sensuality.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Smiles We All Share
    The Same Soul
    With Different
    Voices that
    In All
    How Soul
    For instance
    Some May Claim
    That The Nature
    Of Elton John’s
    Is No
    Nature on Earth
    Yet The Young
    Heard ‘This
    Song Is For
    You’ The
    The Aspiring
    Pope’s Creation
    To Breathe Short
    Sighted in
    A Twitter
    Lost in Trees
    From Forest
    Whole Still
    Are Now
    Saved By the
    Most Natural
    Birth Control
    As Aid A Free
    Service Offered
    To Help Couples
    Without the Gift
    Of Libido
    To Reproduce
    Without A Little
    MoRE ALL Love
    Muscles Volunteered
    From Far Away Totally
    In Love’s
    Gift Innate
    Naked to Breathe..
    Lifting the
    Veils oF iGnorance
    Or Not
    Passionately Survives
    Freest Indeed Thrive Most

    Short Sighted
    Or Long
    And Go
    Some Seeds
    Become Larger
    Trees And By
    God Forests
    Too Great
    to See🌲

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Additional
    Muse i once
    Had A Free Spirited
    Young Woman Friend
    Who on A Facebook
    Status Without
    That The
    Of The
    Old Gentleman
    Voltaire Inspired
    Her to “Pull
    Her Panties
    Much Smaller
    Younger Men
    Are Consumed
    With The Size
    Of Their White
    A New Degree
    For Words Changing
    Into Orgasms is
    More Treat
    Gold For

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hehe it’s All About Feeling Enough the Same ‘Group’
        Of Dudes Were making
        Fun of the Size of
        A Lion Package in
        A Wild Animal
        Showing of
        Lion Mating However
        These Men Who Refuse
        To Wear Masks to
        Save the Sanctity
        Of Breathing
        Hard Life in
        Republican White
        Anglo Saxon Penis Way
        Fail to See the Advantage
        Of A Warrior With Claws
        And Teeth Keeping the
        Family Jewels Safe
        In A Highly Retractable
        Package Both in Fights
        To the Biting And Clawing
        Off Parts And Siberian
        Tiger 🐅 Nights Spent
        In The Snow Where
        Longer Fingers
        And the
        Such are
        More Likely
        To Get Frost
        Bitten And Fall off…
        Some Folks Get
        To Stuck on
        The Small
        Details And
        Forget What
        A Deep Poetic Voice
        And Words Might
        Otherwise Do to
        The Fairest
        And By God the
        Largest Sexual
        Organ of
        A Woman’s
        Mind in Whatever
        Way that Comes
        It’s True 50
        Of Gray
        By A
        Has Sired
        Many Children hehe
        Know where the
        Mind fully aware
        Of Every Roller
        Ain’t Life Ironic
        Some ‘Master’
        Of Forests others
        ‘Slave’ of Small Trees🙌🤡


  4. The voice more than the words, more than the person – your thoughtful essay made me think of how when you remember a person, you always remember the way they say your name. And based on just that one sound, everything else falls into place. Or doesn’t. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

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