Polyphony vs. Messieurs Jekyll and Hyde

I like big words. Which is kind of like saying, “I like to eat jellyfish tentacles.” You get weird looks, some rolled eyes, and a sort of “prove it” attitude from most. One of the big words I rike isth a oord room — oh, excuse me, I had to slurp up my jellyfish tentacle there and it was impeding my ability to type in a way so that it sounded like I had something in my mouth. Excuse me.

(Sometimes you get people who don’t like big words yelling at you for using said big words and all you can do to tell them off is use more big words and then all of a sudden you’re back in time, killing your grandfather, creating a paradox and then the fourth dimension will collapse upon itself, you stupid bitch. [That’s a quote from a movie called Southland Tales, which I never saw, but my friends quote it all the time. In fact, I could write an entire post on the whole simulacrum-thing between them, me, and Family Guy, but I’ll save that for a rainy day.] More often than not I try to use “indubitably” in these conversations. Maybe I’ll throw  in an antediluvian troglodyte or a boorish back-sided broom-calumniator for good measure.)

A Russian literary critic named Mikhail Bakhtin wrote an extensive (and rather exhaustive, in my humble opinion) series of articles on Dostoevsky’s work entitled “Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics,” in which he talked about a big-word-favorite of mine: polyphony, or  having many voices in a one-narrator novel. Basically, each character within a Dostoevskian novel has their own psychological platfrom from which they think, act, and speak. Or, to quote my favorite website for literary techniques, wikipedia: “each individual character is strongly defined, and at the same time the reader witnesses the critical influence of each character upon the other.” Wow. Usually I’m rather sarcastic about wikipedia, but that’s actually a rather succinct definition. Good job. Now go clean up your article about adverbs and then we’ll go for coffee or something. Uh-uh, second date, no tongue!

Now, being a humble narrator, though not completely immune to the effects of sleep-deprivation and inspiration as of right now — something I refer to as the orange juice and toothpaste combo of the writing world — I find it hard to reconcile the two very distinct voices I have in my head. (Leave the schizophrenia jokes to me, kids. I’m a professional. Well, not really, but I am a Notary Public. WITNESS MY HAND AND SEAL. Uh, I mean, SEAL! Whatever. Club sandwiches, not seals.) The first is the rather irreverent, sarcastic, and Joss Whedonified. Basically what you read here. The other, however, is what I call the Emo Nathaniel Hawthorne. Now, those three words — harmless by themselves — together can be somewhat misleading. You haven’t had an example of this yet, though when I tend to get all literary on you, it gets closer to my main voice. I go for the psychological heartstrings — hence the emotional bit — and I’m rather descriptive — hence the Hawthorne bit. Where the Nathaniel comes into play, I have no clue. I don’t even know how this dude got here.

Can't you just see some manliner on those baby blues?

My dialogue is often closer to the first and my paragraphs are usually in the second style. It bugs me a lot that they don’t mesh well together, leading me to wonder if this is an act of polyphony or a case of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes. I also have no idea how jarring it really is, since I’m too close to my work to have an accurate view. Well, one day, when my looks have faded, an editor will tell me exactly how annoying it is. I have the feeling it’ll go over much like the introduction of 3D movies to the one-eyed and depth-perceptionally challenged. (I actually have no idea if the new 3D movies work with one eye or not. I guess when I’m playing the Avatar drinking game where you take a shot everytime there’s a horrible cliche watching The Last Airbender, I’ll figure it out.)

So, if I’m Dr. Jekyll, where’s Mr. Hyde? He’s right behind me, isn’t he? I guess I’ll go run upstairs—