On voice

“The burden of being many-voiced is that any style you choose fails to do justice to the many other positions you could take; the blessing is that you can be wise to yourself…
Look at your out-box: in the past hour you may have sent e-mails to mother, partner, boss and child, possibly even describing the same party. But each one is likely to have been written in a very different voice, and even to have treated the event quite differently — not to do so would be a form of insensitivity. “A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him,” as William James had it. It’s the man who doesn’t change his voice according to his audience who seems scary, locked inside his own assumptions.”

≈≈≈Pico Iyer


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