Monday, 5 December 2011

x x x

Perhaps I am racing a little bit too far ahead and should reserve this for the Kafka session we'll have after Christmas but thought I'd get my thoughts down in ASCII first. Also, please bear in mind that I have no psychology background or anthropology background - If am an running with the wrong end of a stick, please comment - I'd be very interested to hear some empirically based insights into this, admittedly half baked post...

I've just finished reading the Mladen Dolar book A Voice and Nothing More (yup- way late on that I know). Now I have finished it I feel pretty confident in my earlier diagrams and attempts to map Dolar's Lacanian dynamics of the Voice. So that's good.

Going back to the voice as the schism, the Moebius strip of logos and corporeal sound, of the (signifier) absences differential matrix being always locked into the dyad with nature, sound, song and temptation etc (I think I've ranted about this intrinsic relationship enough now, I think it's established) - can we think about the grey areas of this relationship? The grain of the Voice - as Barthes puts it is perhaps one of these but I'd like to focus on another: kissing.

As Dolar observed in the last chapter "Kafka's Voices" (citing The Dog by Kafka) the mouth is either useful for eating, for survival OR employed as vessel for signifiers, logos and (if there is anyone listening) communication. The architecture of the mouth is quite functionally biased for eating and a result of evolutionary survival/consuming needs rather than phonic dexterity or vocal authority. In short this whole mechanism underneath our noses are just eating apparatus that we force, and torture into speaking (like a child is potty trained - calling up Lacan's amorphous beings here). The natural remnant always remains (hence Moebius strip diagram and metaphysical applications and evidence discussed previously) but there is little doubt for me that speaking is a new fangled task we force our jaws into enduring - all for the sake of, ever dominant (via the support of the exo remnant as before), logos. So with this dichotomy of survival/nature and communication/logos I began to dwell on acts, sounds and oral-modes that straddle or bridge this dynamic or that are not strictly eating or drinking based whilst at the same time operating autonomously from the the signification absence matrix of logos-communications - I landed upon kissing.

Is a contexturalized kiss a signifier or not? A cough can be a signifer, a deliberate cough especially, but do kisses communicated in a way outside of language (again, I am using language in the broadest of terms here, a cough at an unattended counter is a signifier regardless of 'language') is a kiss more un-signified than signified? Kisses of thanks, of goodbyes, of lust and elation all carry some contexturalization from the differential matrix of logos, a kiss goodbye is mostly signified in the same contrived way that kissing a gold medal or trophy cup is (also see Proskynesis and The Kiss of Peace) - there's loads of examples - but can a naturally embedded exchange occur. The obvious connections (Desmond Morris' The Naked Ape etc) to the mouth as an erogenous zone aside (and the whole heap of metaphors, analogies and developmental relics), I'd like to explore/or ask around the voco-oral (VoC(h)oral) fetishisation. The heavily rhythmic, breath drenched sounds, in Britney Spears shameless single "I'm A Slave 4 U" is a very obvious recent example of, albeit commodified and culturally encoded, Voc(h)oral fetishism.


DJ Screw's dragged out, chopped and screwed plays of Mariah Carey, Brandy and Monica, Nate Dog, R Kelly, Phil Collins etc create swaying worlds of Voc(h)oral fetishism, lungs the size of Cadillacs breath sensuous rushes of air over the listener, any croak or drawl in the delivery is heightened to seismic  sonic dimensions - so much so that in the closing seconds of DJ Screws play of Phil Collins "In the Air tonight" Collins' vocal strains sound like the death cries of a man sinking underneath a bass filled abyss - the animal facet of the voice is re-presented and unveiled only by dropping a tone and slowing the tempo:

Another example of breaking the musically logosified voice into the call, into something more biological can be found in ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞'s track ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇:
✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞ - ▇✞ шчԏӊѺυϮ Џ ✞▇ by ✞▇ L♥ѵʒﬦɨϵﬦ ▇✞
In a paradoxical method of humanizing, or rather animalizing the voice back into something more primal and less tamed and shackled by logos and musical convention - post-production devices and the mechanisms of the turn-tables create an illusion, a crevice of sonic texture that returns the voice to the primal, pre-logos sound we (perhaps) yearn for. But I am digressing here over to more sonic/musical manifestations of animal orality and vocality.

Where does this need come from? During moments of intimacy it's odd how much a familiar voice is transformed, the transformation is partly due to passion and the physiological effects of activity but also due to proximity, I've often been struck by the loud, sharp almost uncomfortable white noise of breath, or by the bass driven vibrations of a voice re-toned (down tuned) through proximity (under similar sonic mechanics as a Doctor using a stephoscope) - are these sonic phenomena unique to physical intimacy slowly being re-created for commodification? Is this Voc(h)oral fetishism - feigning a sonic trait of animality/intimacy in order to conjure some emotion between a pair of Sennheisers?

SO back to the kiss. Voc(h)oral fetishism is, perhaps, a consequence of remembering such experiences, of hoping to re-create a similar sensation - and this is key. The sensation, a physical sensation is tied into the sonic phenomena emerging from such proximity. When a cheek is pecked in gratitude there are unique sonics that correlate with the physical exchange, the sonic aspects of such are transient and undefinable. The warmth of another's cheek, the down tuning of their voice as they reply whilst withdrawing from your kiss whilst the sound is morphed in relation (or rather in correlation) to these sensations is a large part of the dynamic I am trying to explore here. Voc(h)oral fetishism will never 'copy' the sonics of intimacy because these are mediated by sensations and, on a sensory level, orchestrated by such sensations of heat or cold, degree's of vibration, smell etc. The Voc(h)oral fetishism in the videos above is akin to Rachmaninov played on a Casio - whole chunks of the composition, of the experience are jettisoned (hence why no one is excited by Britney Spears - amongst other reasons). Again I am digressing from the purely sonic aspects the kiss and straying on to the associated poly-sensory phenomena.

Could it be that any noise emitted whilst engaged in an oral-centric practice of affection is, a-logos, the mouth, the lips and tongue are engaged in purely physical exchanges, any noise is more likely to emanate from the lungs as sound rather than 'words', as a bodily resonance rather than any formed phonic oration - is it closer to our natural (animalistic) sound before the mutilation of the oratory speaking mouth forces the vibrations and air into words. Is this why the proximity to such sounds is emotional rather than cerebral (I know there is not one without the other but for the sake of this sonic schism this explanation of responses will suffice). Is the proximity warped sound of another's stifled gasp the closest (metaphorically and physically) we will get to another's voice before the oral mechanism, originally intended for masticating, mutilates the sound in signifiers, language and code? Is the sound from such proximity closer to the sound of ourselves? The sound we hear inside our head, when we cough, shout or cry out. In short, can this be read as an ironic reversal of the Echo and Narcissus dynamic? Narcissus withdrew in horror at the otherness of his own voice spoken by Echo, if Narcissus was not narcissistic would he feel a pang of empathy and love for another's voice, being so close to the pre-logos sound of another human? Feeling Echo's original sound (not too dissimilar to his own, with the same human qualities) rather than understanding her orated words and being repulsed at the otherness.

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