My voice, sounding warped and misshapen, reaches across the phone line from Jon Kelly's home office in Sunnyvale, where he's been operating his business Inner Voice Analysis(TM). Kelly plays the recording of my voice again, first forward, then backward.
"I love Satan."
There I am again, proclaiming my latent love of the Father of Lies. Exposed. I am reminded of a friend who once attended a seminar titled "Don't Sell Your Soul for Rock and Roll" at a Catholic church in Greenwich, Conn. There, he discovered the covert message behind Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust": It's fun to smoke marijuana. My friend, stoned at the time, thought it was a hoot. But I, now, casually and instantly revealed as an unconscious lover of Old Scratch, am less than amused.
"This sort of message doesn't show up very often," assures Kelly. "Very rarely, in fact. I think we can look at it as archetypal imagery. It's a negative image, perhaps one associated with rage or unexpressed emotions. Perhaps towards your father. You might be someone who has strong, intense, unresolved feelings. Someone who chooses to hold on to negative emotional states or anger."
It seems too easy, but I decide to let him keep talking.
"Give us the line," my recorded voice says in devilish munchkin speak, from a point in the earlier conversation where I had discussed the value of honesty.
"This might be saying, "I'm jaded about honesty,'" suggests Kelly. "Or, "I don't believe in honesty very much because people haven't been honest with me in the past; they've just fed me lines.'"
The snippet, "Sailor, you leave the wheel," suggests to Kelly a fear of rejection by lover or partner that might make me question the quality of love I am able to give.
I'm incredulous, but I do like Kelly's Web site (www.yourinnervoice.com).
"I work with everyone from professionals to homemakers," says Kelly, "on issues ranging from weight loss, to anger, to depression, to finding a new career or partner. This is a relatively quick way to uncover the unconscious conflicts that inhibit us from expressing our full potential."
The "relatively quick" uncovering process can take upward of six hours. From a 30-minute recorded interview in which the client discusses his or her concerns, Kelly produces a transcript with 10 to 12 clear descriptive expressions. In the course of four subsequent appointments, of about an hour and a half each in length, Kelly and his client study the phrases to "uncover long-buried emotions, confront self-destructive beliefs, and to become conscious participants in the dramas of their unconscious minds."
Kelly is not a therapist. The 36-year-old Canadian was a top marketing and sales person in the computer industry for many years before he heard Australian "reverse speech investigator" David John Oates interviewed on Art Bell's paranormal radio show. Inspired, Kelly came to California in 1998 to take Oates' vocational training course.
"Since I was a kid, people have always come to me as a natural counselor," explains Kelly, "but I didn't think it would become a vocation."
Kelly's ear, finely honed by 20 years of jazz study and supplemented by years of meditation and yoga, made him a natural, and he worked with Oates for a time, until philosophical differences got in the way. In 1999, Oates became the co-defendant of a $60 million libel suit brought by Art Bell against Oates and one of Oates' Internet radio guests. The lawsuit made headlines and so did Oates, drawing what Kelly believes to be negative attention to reverse speech analysis.
"Uncovering hidden fears and desires can empower people so they can get out and live their lives," says Kelly, who has been quietly working at his new profession full time for the last three years. "It can help them to reclaim their happiness and creative ability."
Good intentions aside, Kelly still takes audible joy in deciphering the backward speech of public figures (many of whom can be found on Kelly's Web site).
In a debate between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio, when asked why she remained with her husband through the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Mrs. Clinton can be heard saying in reverse speech, "The damn prick." More graphically, when asked to suggest a possible reason why the president pursued his young intern for sexual favors, Mrs. Clinton says, "That's too evil to choose to suck it."
During a speech by Al Gore, the presidential hopeful subliminally informed the audience that he would "get a brunette" once he's inaugurated. Similarly, George W. Bush promised Jim Lehrer to "Make a Monica" once elected president. Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford applauded the Florida secretary of state during the certification of the state recounts "because madam, we kiss ass."
During this year's Academy Awards, Kelly found Tommy Lee Jones to say of Ashley Judd, "I see the girl I plan to fuck. They're always beautiful." While Maria Shriver said of her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, "I simply wish he was stupid."
Kelly also interprets some popular songs: From Britney Spears' "Baby One More Time" we get audible clips, "Baby, I'm really sick. Save me will ya?," "Love -- it's real but it sucks," and "We are scum." Not to be outdone in the realm of underground dysfunction, Jennifer Lopez is said to sing, "A pussy's too old. Masturbate," "You must cool him to fuck," and, "You go punish devil. You like my savior."
"I don't like to use the Lopez clips," cautions Kelly. "They haven't been well received. Britney Spears, though -- I think we might see some difficult times ahead for her."
And for me?
The sound clip, "My paper's washroom. Lost her rumor," leads Kelly to believe I'm worried about my reputation.
Professionally, I wonder.