If it's late September and you really should be back at school, you're not a BYU student, where that happens a month earlier, in late August. And the semester kicks off with an opening devotional assembly featuring an address by a General Authority. This year Elder Scott spoke on the theme "learning truth is best accomplished by using multiple senses" (quoting the Deseret News article reporting the talk). Examples of senses he gave: sight, hearing, and inner feelings that come through inspiration. Uh, I have a question.
Are feelings perceived? And what organ of perception, what bundle of nerves, "senses" feeling the way the eye senses light or the eardrum senses changes in air pressure that we perceive as sound? I think this raises an interesting question as to what a "theory of inspiration" really says. If the Spirit whispers to a person, are we saying there are physical sound waves transmitted to that person's ear? Or is there just something happening in the person's mind that they mentally construe as sound (even though their ear drum never moved)? Perception originates in external stimuli. It's not clear we really think inspiration or revelation works that way.
For example, both the Book of Mormon and the New Testament regard dreams as sometimes being revelatory. But dreams don't come to our minds via perception; they are purely mental events. Our mind constructs dreams, but our eyes don't see them and our ears don't hear them. So plainly Mormons affirm non-perceptual revelation that comes to our minds but not via our senses.
Likewise with visions, which the Book of Mormons likens to dreams: "Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision" (1 Ne. 8:2). This suggests one "sees" a vision with one's mind, not with one's eyes, just like one views the visual imagery of a dream with one's mind, not with one's eyes. Of course, almost everyone has dreams. Maybe that's what makes it such a striking analogy.
So maybe Elder Scott is just telling BYU students to use their minds. Great advice.
Actually, that's not what I was going to write about. As I read the short article at Deseret News I could hear Elder Scott (in my mind, not with my ears). After hearing GAs for years and years at Conference, one becomes so accustomed to their respective distinctive speaking styles that it kicks in even when one reads written text. Of course, this can't happen for speakers you have never heard in real life. And it won't happen for fictional characters in dialogue in a novel or play.
There's a differance between spoken word and written text: the spoken word is immediate (ignoring the case of a recorded speech), whereas written text is postponed, so to speak. So for GAs who we hear a lot, this "voice memory" we attach to a written text they spoke or wrote makes their written remarks more immediate and more direct. Some pictures do tell stories. That's sort of interesting. I suppose it also works for those who show up regularly in the media or maybe for actors with a distinctive voice (like Robert Mitchum, for example in his opening and closing narration in Tombstone).