Different Dialects

Yesterday, a group of people gathered at my house to talk about writing short stories and subjects related to the craft. It was the second such meeting we’ve had to discuss the inspirations for and emotions and mechanics of writing short stories. I can’t put my finger on why I felt it, but I sensed that each of us was on a frequency slightly askew from each of the others, as if we were speaking to one another in different dialects or, in some cases, in different languages.

That odd sensation brought to mind a television program I watched long ago (it might have been Twilight Zone or Outer Limits) in which a man slowly loses his ability to understand what others are saying to him. It starts with hearing the wrong words used in sentences, but it got far worse. In one scene, a young man asks his older co-worker (the one whose ability to comprehend is beginning to be compromised) for advice on a good place to take his girlfriend out for lunch.  But instead of hearing “lunch,” the older guy hears “dinosaur.” In short order, everything he hears is just gibberish, real words but strung together is such a way as to be utterly incomprehensible; complete nonsense.

Yesterday’s meeting was not so extreme, but I felt a little like the guy in the TV program; I was listening, but I was distracted by stuttering signals in my brain, my synapses misfiring.  I wonder if such things actually happen. Is that what causes people to taste and smell colors and see sounds?

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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