What do you find more unbearable: watching a video of yourself, or listening to a recording of your voice? Why?
As the door closed with a long hiss, the overwhelming sense of silence hit me. It was like one of those special chambers that deprive you of all your senses and allow you to dive down deep into your sub-consciousness. My consciousness however, stayed floating on the surface.
A few seconds passed and I cleared my throat and felt surprised at the deadness of the sound. I looked through the window on the wall in front of me and waited as knobs were twiddled and sliders slid and switches switched. A technician had his head bowed down over his desk, intent on getting all of the knobs and switches just right.
After a while, he glanced up at me and gestured with cupped hands over his ears. I stared back. He pointed at me with both forefingers like a kid playing cops and robbers and then put his cupped hands back over his ears. I picked up the headphones and put them on. The silence was even more profound than before. I saw his mouth moving as he spoke to someone in the room but I couldn’t see anyone there. He carried on talking mundanely looking down over his desk. He hunched over and slid a slider and from inside my head a voice faded up. “…that? And that? Can you hear me now? And that?” I nodded yes and heard the sounds as he swung round in his chair to reach some far away button. The squeak of the chair and the buttons on his leather jacket banging on the side of the desk. Then suddenly dead silence. Nothing.
I rubbed my hands together and felt the sweat in my palms but heard no sound at all. No hot damp skin rubbing on hot damp skin. A click. “Ok, tell me if it’s too loud. Three should be about right.” I held a thumb up to the window to say that everything was fine as he had set it up. Three is right, I thought. “Ok, let’s do a little test voice to get the levels.” I moved closer to the microphone that was hanging on springs in front of me. A black disk of material prevented me getting any closer. “Ok, when you’re ready. Just to get the levels”. I drew in a deep breath and heard my lungs filling with air through the headphones. The surprise made me cough and as I did I heard the sound of my own throat exploding in my ears. Stop smoking, flashed through my head. I reached down and took a gulp of water from the bottle provided. “Sorry, frong in my throat” I spluttered. What’s that? FRONG? Why did I say that? “I mean frog”, I apologised. “A little more, please. Just a few words, to get the levels right and we’ll be good to go”. “Mary had a little lamb” I started. “It’s fleece was white as snow…”. “Ok, I think I’ve got it with that”. Click. Dead silence. My heart pounded in my chest. I could feel it but heard no sound. Click. “Mary had a little lamb” played back in my ears. Hesitant and thin. Scared and unsure. Sliders slid, switches switched and knobs were twiddled. The voice continued. “It’s fleece was white as snow”. Loud and rich. Deep and seducing.