Sunday, February 18, 2007

A Reworking of Echo

Cavarero, speaking of the sharing of voices between a mother and her infant, reworks the myth of Echo:

This is the very music that Kristeva and Cixous speak of when they name the maternal figure as the sonorous, presemantic source of language. Because they rely on a psychoanalytic framework, however, their attention goes to the pleasure drive that is inscribed in this musicality, linked to the mouth as the center of oral pleasure. The languelait of the mother, voice and milk, is given to the ear and the mouth. The shadow of psychoanalysis thus ends up obscuring the relationality of the scene, sacrificing it to the originary bond between mother and child. As a result, the phenomenon of vocalic uniqueness is once again effaced. Unlike the bond of mother and child, a relation carries with it the act of distinguishing oneself, constituting the uniqueness of each one through this distinction. In the case of the vocalizations and gurgles that the mother and the infant exchange, this uniqueness makes itself heard incontrovertibly as voice. The infant recognizes the mother's voice and sings a duet with her. Resonance, daughter of invocation, links the two voices in the form of a rhythmic bond. What makes the uniqueness of the two voices stand out, in fact, is this repetition, echo, and miming, becuase they duplicate the same sounds. The voice is always unique, but all the more so in the vocalic exercise of repetition. In fact, by challenging the economy of the same, uniqueness is here entrusted to nothing other than the singular voice. This does not mean that in this vocalic language mother and child are constituted as subjects. The phantasm of the subject is a fictitious entity generated by philosophy; it belongs to language as a system of signification; it comes from the devocalizing strategy of theoria. And yet this does not mean that there is no distinction between mother and infant. On the contrary, there is a process of self-distinction in the repetitive rhythm of the duet, in the reciprocal giving of uniqueness and relation, just like a song for two voices–communication, already regulated, of language whose rules are not semantic but acoustic. It is indeed a song, no longer intentioned toward speech, with which each invokes the other and communicates himself or herself in the interdependent form of the resonance. The uniqueness of the vocalic is inaugurated on a scene where, unlike what happens on the scene of the "subject," there are no dreams of autonomy or hierarchical principles. Free from the presence of Narcissus and from Ovid's textual games, Echo comes to appear as the divinity who teaches an acoustic relationality, still linked to infantile pleasure, in which uniqueness makes itself heard as voice.

(For More than One Voice, pp. 171-172, emphasis Cavarero's)

I am, incidentally, enjoying Cavarero's style.

Labels: , , , , , ,

posted by Fido the Yak at 4:07 PM.


Post a Comment

Fido the Yak front page