OPINION
Text in which the author defends ideas and reaches conclusions based on his / her interpretation of facts and data

Talking in the shower

Talking to yourself is a lot like writing, because writing is similar to talking in dreams

I confess: I talk to myself, a lot. The general wisdom seems to be that people who talk to themselves have a screw loose. I don't say this isn't so, but I am the most normal person I know, yet I talk to myself a lot. There are incurable optimists who think that the bad reputation of soliloquy is only particular to our time; that the plays and novels of the past abound in vast monologues, by Don Quixote or Hamlet. Even more incurable optimists think that the bad reputation of soliloquy is the fault of capitalism.

After his first trip to Castro's Cuba, Jorge Ibargüengoitia wrote that "in Cuba people talk to people they know, to people they don't know, and when none of these are available, to themselves." The incurable optimists forget that Don Quixote and Hamlet were mad, or almost, and that nobody writes soliloquies anymore for the same reason that nobody wears a codpiece; and that Cuba is a case to itself, and that Ibargüengoitia was a joker.

Not me. I believe that soliloquy has always been frowned on; and that this is unfair, because more people do it than you would think. I remember a story by Haruki Murakami. A man and a woman meet now and then to sleep together. One day she tells him he talks to himself, which he denies. So one morning she makes a note of what he is saying. He is talking in the shower about airplanes and flying, and what is more, talking in verse. But later, he doesn't remember.

Not everyone talks to himself in verse, but possibly talking to yourself is like talking in dreams: almost everyone does it, but doesn't know it until someone tells him. Fortunately I noticed it quite early in childhood, when my mother told me that at night I got up, asleep and perorating, to seek under my bed the corpse of a priest who had been murdered in a particularly cruel manner.

But there are people who don't think they speak in dreams when in fact they do, and many people who don't think they talk to themselves when in fact they do. After all, talking to yourself is a way of thinking aloud, and human beings are thinking creatures who can stop breathing for a longer time than they can stop thinking, if in fact they can stop thinking at all.

Of course, talking to others is wonderful, but if there aren't any others around, it makes sense to talk to ourselves - that is, with the other who is always with us, the one we can tell things to that we can't tell to anyone, which are the only really important things.

Besides, talking to yourself is a lot like writing, because writing is similar to talking in dreams, to saying things that you don't know very well what they mean, yet they mean more than the things you say when you are awake. I have always suspected that it is good to write when you are a little asleep, and that writing is a socially acceptable way of talking to yourself, and that many of us have become writers only so that people will let us talk to ourselves without pestering us about whether there is in fact a dead priest under the bed.

What's wrong with it? Don Quixote and Hamlet did it and, though mad, they still have a reputation. As for Ibargüengoitia, he died in 1983 in a plane crash near Barajas. Some say that this was his last joke; but I wonder if he also talked to himself and if, like the Japanese in the shower, he was talking about planes and flying when the plane crashed. However that may be, the rest of us are still wondering, and for that reason still writing, still talking to ourselves.

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