Speech baffled my machine. Helen made all well-formed sentences. But they were hollow and stuffed--linguistic training bras. She sorted nouns from verbs, but, disembodied, she did not know the difference between thing and process, except as they functioned in clauses. Her predications were all shotgun weddings. Her ideas were as decorative as half-timber beams that bore no building load. She balked at metaphor. I felt the annoyance of her weighted vectors as they readjusted themselves, trying to accommodate my latest caprice. You're hungry enough to eat a horse. A word from a friend ties your stomach in knots. Embarrassment shrinks you, amazement strikes you dead. Wasn't the miracle enough? Why do humans need to say everything in speech's stockhouse except what they mean?
A book is still atemporal. It is you, in silence, hearing voices in your head, unfolding at a time that has nothing to do with the timescale of reading. And for the hours that we retreat into this moratorium, with the last form of private and silent human activity that isn't considered pathological, we are outside of time.