Sunday, 30 December 2012

Under cooked turkey

I was suckered in by the promise of neuroscience, only for everything, all the content, to be victim to the presenters broad brush strokes of charmingly curious (and oh too vocal) ignorance! Ahh BBC thank you for this under cooked turkey of a programme! I'm going to post it here for later and come back to it and google the neuroscientists to find out more about the details of their work. But from what I've seen on this show nothing is that new except the evidence to support the theory of the uniquely musical nature of humans - that primates don't dig rhythm. The connection of harmony and musicality in speech, across all languages isn't that astounding (after all Leonard Bernstein knew language was music before).

I always feel that MRSI is a way crude technology in many ways - where is Neil Cassidy?

Edit - though to be fair to BBC, they had a double of synthetic memory themed films afterwards! Moon then Blade Runner (new cut, HD).

Friday, 28 December 2012

The Shining - Horror in Voice + Dolar Thoughts

Thought I'd link my posts on voice here, I posted them on my other blog because I didn't want to clog Vocalities up too much with my own stuff. But seeing as all I think about is voice they are kinda relevant, extrinsic ;-) - I've been watching a lot of horror films recently and thinking about voice in horror: clicky for my thoughts

A few of the essays coming up are about cinema so I'm really looking forward to revisiting those with a few horror scenes in mind. - If anyone has a particularly 'eerie' example of V∅ICE in a film scene please let me know. The holiday is a great time to binge on films.

I Re-watched Kubrick's The Shining the other day -  spectral and split subject voices are in almost every scene - kinda felt that the terror, the horror, in that film comes from the uncertainty of it being always either spectral/hotel haunting or a subjective possession - can the Overlook Hotel possess a man or is it just haunting? Is Jack going mad or is he possessed? Is Danny's ESP real or not? Tony is presented as a part of Danny's psyche - a visible split subject voice, his most inner turmoil is flexed inside out for the viewer to see.... but this is against the backdrop of a building that haunts - a haunting that (in the first parts) is reserved only to Danny. By the end of the film the question of the location of the terrors (be it physical, psychological or architectural) actual locations does not actually matter - but it is this uncertainty that maintains such a satisfyingly taut tension for the first two thirds of the film.

Surrounding all this is a soundtrack of (I think mostly in the film it is Ligeti - right?) cacophonies of dissonance. Etherial, ghoulish wafts of pneumacentric presence (choirs) blow through the corridors and up the stairs. Seducing and possessing you - just like the Overlook's resonating corridors (Bronchi and Bronchiole) and room 237 (larynx) did to Jack.. Was he possessed or was he just weak? In an odd way I'd like to think of jack as a failed Orpheus - when he heard the voices he tried to beat them by playing his weapon of logos (the typewriter rather than the lyre), he played it more and more: "all work and no play makes jack a dull boy". But in the end he succumbed to the Siren call - the unseen presence - an unseen that's ambiguity of location (subjective/objective - past/present) only amplifies the uncertainty, the horror to relish.

Also - the 1920's bar tender is obviously the blue-print for that possession from the future Drink Drive advert:

the original had no sound

edit - sorry, got carried away with that film, mean't to post my old thoughts on Dolar - I wanted to let the dust settle on that essay for a while before linking my very subjective comments!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Wire 347 - Tony Herrington on DJ Spinn

Tony Herrington on DJ Spinn's new Teklife Vol 2: What You Need

"On "Over There (Getting It)" dance circle exhortations are clipped and looped into lines of richocheting sibilants and consonants - rather than denuding these inner city voices of personality , this has the opposite effect, amplifying their humanity by exposing their lack of agency."

"To get all philosophical on it, Footwork's use of sampling embodies the latest technologised iteration of a vernacular form of semiotics in which black music articulates then subverts the mendacity of western language systems which are insufficient to express true lived experience."

All in The Wire 347, January 2013

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Forensic Phonetics

The sort of dystopic vocal vivisection that governments will and do (see Lawrence Abu-Hamdan's work) use more and more in the digitalising/signifier forcing practices of our sci(-let's-quantify-the-hell-out-of -everything)ence smothered world.

Yeah, I know it's radio 4 but give it a listen - there is a tragically funny bit where a forensic phonetician tells of how different people may pronounce their vowels or consonants differently depending on intoxication level - for a Phonetician (whose whole science works from the division of vowels and consonants) this is astounding. It is like an arctic exploring declaring that the north pole is either "over there near the liquid or frozen water" - or programmer concluding that the base material of his work is either zeros or ones. As dodgy science and + or journalism goes this programme is a peach - but some nice snippets.

There is a wonderful scene in Aliens Resurrection where the captain cannot get into the door of his office. The doors on the ship are opened by a breath recognition mechanism. The captain gets quite (literally) exasperated as he as to breath 3 or 4 times into this stoic device that cannot recognise his breath as that of the captain. It reminded me of my reliably unreliable goldsmiths card (that uses technology from the 1950's!). I cannot wait to be in the future and not be able to access my bank account because my voice is gruff from a cold or a night out.  The kafkian-labyrinthine trauma of negotiating various swipe card absurdities in contemporary life is just training for the time when all our possessions (money/transport/property etc) are randomly rendered inaccessible due to the recognition software not being able to locate our DNA/Phonetic 'signature' (sup - Jacques).

Radio 4, Frontiers: Forensic Phonetics

Friday, 7 December 2012

Mark Beasley "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence: The Voice in Mike Kelley’s Music"

Mark Beasley

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence: The Voice in Mike Kelley’s Music

This is such a great article, it is AVC through and through (or at least I feel it is).... 

Check out killer text like: 

"In DAM’s 2009 triple album reissue Niagara—a sickly anti-blonde Marilyn Monroe with riveting anti-stage presence all cheap peroxide hair and ashen skin—begins her Vampirechant, a declaration of self as folkloric bloodsucker. The lyrics are delivered in faltering style; crawling from the cave of the mouth festering on the tongue this is Karen Carpenter as the living dead hopped up on Valium and Nyquil. The voice is not feminine sweet or controlled, it stands as one of the punk precursors for a generation to come (Ari Up, Siouxsie Sioux). Of these early recordings it is clear that Niagara is the presiding and authored voice, revealed as person as personality: the “I” of the song. To this extent pop rules are exemplified, the “special” and authored voice is adhered to, as listeners we search for the life in someone’s voice that beyond lyrics the material—the tenor of the voice—reveals the person and the body inherent. As the writer Simon Frith has it “the first general point to make about the pop voice, then, is that we hear singers as personally expressive, in a way that a classical singer is not.” The voice in classical music is on par with the instrument it sits within the score and assumes the role of bass, baritone, tenor or soprano. The pop voice fends its way scoreless, feeling, and in this instance crawling it’s way amongst discordant and broken sound."

Hope you enjoy.

Big thanks to Open File's Tim Dixon for sharing.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Mr Sardonicus + Laughter

Ripe for psychoanalytic musings. I almost want to say the masked speaker is an inversion of the possessed victim. An eerie voice from an unseen - in both instances, one (Regan) having animation but an incongruous unpresent/present voice, the other a true voice, a locatable source, but no facial animation, no locus of emittance.... but this is too simple. Well Sardonic scene at the end too, scope Vladimir Propp's comments of ritual laughter accompanying death and killing, all involving groups. These he characterized as sardonic laughter.

"Among the very ancient people of Sardinia, who were called Sardi or Sardoni, it was customary to kill old people. While killing their old people, the Sardi laughed loudly. This is the origin of notorious sardonic laughter (Eugen Fehrle, 1930), now meaning cruel, malicious laughter. In light of our findings things begin to look different. Laughter accompanies the passage from death to life; it creates life and accompanies birth. Consequently, laughter accompanying killing transforms death into a new birth, nullifies murder as such, and is an act of piety that transforms death into a new life."
Sophie K Scott and her team have done some interesting research into laughter. Is sardonic laughter (in the ancient Sardinian context) a method of exploiting the first mode of rhythmical exchange in order to mollify a victim? A vocal weapon that releases a sickly serotonin against the listeners/victims will? On the other hand, when one realises a laughter is mocking, it is not communal but dangerous, it is worse than words - cue Regan:

And of course who can forget the classic Vincent Price cackle at the end of Michael Jackson's Thriller (just google vincent price laugh, or MJ's Thiller). A laugh deployed as sinister affect, the most blood curdling effect of a vocalised revelation - the horror laugh is often wheeled out at points of transformation/revelation/protagonist realisation - in a sense the laugh can be thought of as a marker of change. The point at which an evil villain chooses to finally break the tension and reveal their true intentions to the audience and the victims -  and their victims doom. The true intention is not granted utter explicitness, not fully inscribed within language (utter explicitness kills horror - we all know that, the villain will never turn around and say "OK, so this is our dungeon we'll be killing you within 25 minutes but a few housekeeping points first") - but is given it's most breathy, vital and crucially ambiguous marker. An utter vocalisation of intent, intention is revealed most sonorously, most infectiously BUT retains an ambiguity. The evil cackle is introduced at the point of the baddie winning, showing his or her true intentions, the point at which secrecy can be jettisoned - let is all out devil, relax, you have your prey now:

"The incident recorded by Ionov shows that hunters laugh after capturing an animal. Consequently, laughter is not a means for capturing it. However, the hunter's interests are naturally concentrated on the capture. We may suppose that the hunters laughed to resurrect the dead animal to a new life and to capture it a second time; that is, they were laughing "for the birth" of the animal, just as the Yakuts laughed "for the birth" of a child. That hunters tried to resurrect a slain animal by various means (in particular by burying its bones) for a second hunt is well known in ethnography (Propp 1934). Laughter is one of the means for the creation and recreation of life." (Propp, 135)

The horror laugh, is a sinisterly knowing affect, it is a neon sign to say 'the chase is over, you'll never escape, my plans are complete - but the torment won't stop - even after I've hunted you I'll hunt you again' - For the victim their enemy's cackle can be heard to say that the horror of the pursuit is finished, and that now there is only the horror of the capture, a grimly static horror without the momentum of hope or the prospect of freedom.

Edit - and how could I forget, another film full of masks and sardonic laughter:

Friday, 30 November 2012

Patricia Piccinini

There is an amazing video piece at the Patricia Piccinini exhibition at Haunch of Venison gallery on New Bond Street where a woman has some kind of CGI goo pouring out of her mouth onto the ground which accumulates to form the structures around her. It reminded me of some of what we have been discussing in class, particularly in regards to materialist notions about the voice. 

The exhibition is definitely worth seeing as it also deals with really interesting ideas surrounding nature/culture. 

The press release from Haunch of Venison reads, "The characters in Piccinini’s stories are alien creatures, mutated animal/human hybrids and startlingly lifelike - they simultaneously attract and unsettle the viewer. Her anthropomorphised machines - motorbikes as lovers, staring lovingly at one another – reference both a universal instinct to apply human emotions to all animals and things, as well as an implied genealogy that humans and technology are increasingly intertwined. Her work  ultimately questions the way that contemporary technology and culture changes an understanding of what it means to be human and the relationships with, and responsibilities towards, the things mankind creates in the name of progress."

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Exorcist scene - original Linda Blair voice followed by dubbed voice (Mercedes McCambridge)

Hammer House Of Horror: Ep. 12 - The Two Faces Of Evil

I used to be obsessed with dopplegangers. This is very scary, I'm not sure what's more frightening though, the glottal groans and velociraptor shrieks or the obtusely quaint englishness of it all.

The architecture and decor in that hospital spells trouble from the start - totally up on that gothic christianity / pagan masonic tip - you can almost smell the tannis root....

Great tip Mark.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Voices from the Depths

A nice little Radiolab episode here about cartoon polyphonies and the voice acting as a lifeline when physical conciousness is all but gone.

That's all Folks!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

the feministscum kollective

As promised here is a link to the feministscum kollective

The feminist scum kollective is a non-heriarchical group which anyone can join. There isn't a particularly cohesive element to the group but I would say that we are largely queer, anarchist, and feminist. The idea of the group is roughly based on ideas proposed in Valarie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto. If you haven't read the SCUM Manifesto you really should. 

Feel free to submit any critical essays, art, anecdotal writings,  or music to feministscumkollective. If you read the manifesto that follows, there is a lot of emphasis put on publishing papers written in academic settings which would otherwise lie dormant on your hard drive. 

Also you can follow femscum on Facebook for regular updates! 

The manifesto, which exists as a wiki here, reads as of November 21, 2012: 

“The veneration of `Art' and `Culture'… leads to the constant intrusion on our sensibilities of pompous dissertations on the deep beauty of this and that turn. This allows the `artist' to be setup as one possessing superior feelings, perceptions, insights and judgments, thereby undermining the faith of insecure women in the value and validity of their own feelings, perceptions, insights and judgments.” 

1. The act of publishing underneath an umbrella organization decentralizes a creative endeavor from a privatized/individualized/isolated/singularized pursuit to one that stems from a community. This credits the entire community with a creative product rather than just one persona. Why is this important? This is important because it reaffirms and creates community by allowing creative works to stem from the context of a community rather than an individuals isolated experience. This transference of creativity from the individual to the community is a revolutionary act that undermines the processes in which creativity is commoditized upon by being tied to one creative being  
i. In the words of Valarie Solanas, “The veneration of `Art' and `Culture'…leads to the constant intrusion on our sensibilities of pompous dissertations on the deep beauty of this and that turn. This allows the `artist' to be setup as one possessing superior feelings, perceptions, insights and judgments, thereby undermining the faith of insecure women in the value and validity of their own feelings, perceptions, insights and judgments.” At least I think that quote is applicable. Who really knows what Valarie Solanas is talking about.
 2. A collective allows for collaborations and creative projects that otherwise don’t have a home. (there are creative projects, rants, drawings, etc etc that all are growing dust in our hard drives and in storage. i think u r really talented and i think u should share ur work!!!)
a. Here is a personal anecdote: Sometimes I get really freaked out when I think about all of the amazing/radical manifestos and political statements that are written/embedded in my class papers. In my possession I have a number of academic texts that I have written that have never been read by anyone besides a professor. Where does all of that amazing information go? It just sits on my fucking computer wasting away and of no use to anyone. Granted, some of my papers belong deep within my computer but some of them are pretty good. 
b. Our private elite stuffy education has told us to bury all of this radical information- to separate out our idea about ‘academics’ and ‘politics.’ This collective website is a venue to break down that fake barrier between our beliefs as activists and political bodies and our academic selves. I mean, after all, didn’t they teach us that the academics can be a form of activism? 
i. I encourage you to think about this- do you have a paragraph from a paper that you are really proud of? How about an entire essay you wrote that you are super proud of? Why are you limiting access to that paper? Wouldn’t you want it to be shared with as many people as possible even if there are a few typos? (THINK ABOUT ACCESS AND EDUCATIONAL PRIVILEGE AND HOW PUBLISHING CAN BE A FORM OF SOCIAL JUSTICE) 
3. The Internet is an amazingly revolutionary medium that allows for widespread access to a huge body of information. This access becomes a revolutionary tool because it allows for democratized access to information rather than an elite structure of top-down access. Universal access is the keystone to ensuring that creative communities can grow and network despite physical, geographic, monetary, and temporal boundaries.  
a. By the end of four years of college your brain is worth almost 250,000 dollars, an amount of money that a lot of people wont ever see in their LIFE! You wrote papers, made art, and wrote poetry because you had the academic PRIVLEDGE and ACCESS to college classes. Wouldn’t the most revolutionary act be to publish and share every last bit of knowledge that you gained from your education?

Thursday, 1 November 2012

"Yzur" Leopoldo Lugones


Leopoldo Lugones

Carlos Costa and Georges Dodds, transl.

Big thanks to Tiff Thomas and Jon Shaw for this one.

Amazing short story by Lugones about a haughty white dude who tries to get a chimpanzee to speak. You may cringe at the condescending tone of superiority and shadow of colonial rascism but past all that there are some really interesting little passages about voice. Connects very well with the Burroughs story on the reading list too (one of the main (- adamic - no pun -) inspirations behind my last post on my own blog). There is a nice passage about the difference between vowels and consonants too which understandably interested me. Also, it re-ignighted my interest in phylogenetic language evolution.... Broca's area and all that.... I kinda feel that monkeys can speak, and must have a super simple form of language, rather than an instinctive emotive cry, but do actually learn sounds for things in societies - which self replicate (oh language the virus! -  Bill), they do understand symbolic gestures too, so must have semantic capacity. 

There is a great scene about Yzur's tongue being pulled and lips contorted, made me think of Jared Diamonds QWERTY text  - yup language is painful, but once there I guess we get a kinda psychosemantic/corpo-mechanic version of stockholm syndrome........ 

I wonder - , if Yzur's chimpnapper was so superior and learned surely it would've been easier for him to just learn chimpanzee rather than 't'other way round?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Oakland in Popular Memory: A Rare Ode

I'd like to firmlyyet gently cajole you to buy, borrow or talk about Matt Werner's shiny new book, Oakland in Popular Memory.  The idea of "popular memory" is a nice Jungian concept to befit a book on Oakland, California...

Chorus: Nobody really knows what happened in Oakland!

Chorus: People say Oakland was taken....

(Audience): Taken?

Chorus: Taken!

(Audience): Taken?

Chorus: Taken!

The world's "popular memory" of Oakland seems heavily stacked these days by large media outlets who let the bleedingest stories about Oakland lead.  Oakland has always "suffered" (or profited?) from a reputation "problem" (or asset?).  It has some similarities with South London, especially Peckham, Deptford, Southwark, Lewisham and New Cross.  Oakland used to be the end of the train line.  If you got on in New York and never got off, you'd finish in Oakland.  It's always attracted a renegade, even derelict spirit.  So, naturally, Oakland is the birthplace of the Hell's Angels and the place where Clint Eastwood was punished for riding his motorcycle on his high school football field.  

Vintage Oakland Hotels.

Oaklanders are often too busy to respond to criticism.  And, really, why should they?  It's an original idea to interview people who are actually from Oakland about Oakland, and publish it.  If it was ever done before, it was years ago.  Oakland was a different place.

Werner writes of the feeling in the air at Life is Living, the 2011 festival that headlined a free ?uestlove concert in either DeFremery or Lil' Bobby Hutton park, depending on who's asking, in West Oakland.  There was barbecue from the Oakland Black Cowboy Association.  There was a halfpipe.  There was corn on the cob.  There were a lot of creative eco-herbal neo-hairstyles.  But there was also a feeling that Oakland had become itself, for once, again, after everything.  It was the feeling I got when I watched the Oakland Technical High School football team when Marshawn Lynch played there.  Inspiring.

It was especially inspiring to see people of all walks of life smiling, around music, in a "problem neighborhood" in West Oakland.  Maybe if there's no there here, there need be no fear here, either.  ?uestlove, speaking into a mic handed him at the end of his set, said that he loved playing to so many people who "look like" him.  "I don't get a chance to do that very often," added the bandleader of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  

Gertrude Stein, straight outta East Oakland.

Werner talks about another phenomenon, "Oaklandphobia," we might call it, based on his Dora, a certain sorority girl at a UC Berkeley party, who claimed that Oakland is just the kind of place that nobody should go, with the possible occasional exceptions of Zachary's Pizza on College Ave. and the Pixared, world-famous, recently burnt to a crisp and rebuilt Fenton's Creamery on Piedmont.

Werner's sorority girl (can we track her down for an interview?  Which blog does she write for?) is a fleeting instance of a much larger epidemic: being afraid of stuff you don't know about.  I, too, am influenced by the epidemic: when I take an airplane, there's the part of my brain that refuses to know that airplanes do function relatively well (just as well as the guardrails on a freeway or the tests the FDA runs on meat).  You can judge and judge a community, a neighborhood, a school, a politician, but at the end of the day the only way to know about it is to engage.

Painted by

As the product of an engagement with Oakland, Werner's book is a fascinating glimpse into an emerging niche genre: Oakland studies.  There's something irreplaceable and labyrinthine in the history of Oakland, from Jack London to Cottrell Dellums' Pullman Porters, Too $hort to Tom Hanks.  The contemporary scene is just as exciting, from food to design to art and music.  Books about Oakland populate shelves around the world.

The Pointer Sisters.

In London, for instance, Kodwo Eshun showed Haile Gerima's Bush Mama (inspired by 1970's Oakland) to a discussion group at Gasworks Gallery in Lambeth.  Like the Idora Park days (when, for instance, one guy came to Oakland from the UK, pitched a tent at Lake Temescal, lived there with his family, and then founded an art school), 2012 is a time of Oakland welcoming people who use magazine articles to decide where they will move next.  

The idea of a municipality coming in and out of fashion can be strange to people who grew up in it.  Oakland was once a small town, and now it's well on its way to being a cosmopolitan metropolis.  It has been hellish and utopian, sometimes at once.  Contrary to popular belief, Black culture does not simply resist cosmopolitanization.  In many cases it openly promotes it, as in the 1980's when Oakland artists, from The Coup to 415, taught the world that Oakland is a place of its own, with a vibe of its own.

415, the group that started the career of Richie Rich, and inspired Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Warren G.

Is the world becoming more cosmopolitan?  Kwame Anthony Appiah thinks so, and another West African philosopher, Achille Mbembe, has coined the word "Afropolitan" to account for the increasing diversification of cosmopolitanism.

Werner's book treats Oakland as a kind of collective misapprehension--a murky story, to say the least.  I like this approach because of its honesty.

Yet there is a kind of 'founding myth' that '1960's bay area radicals' like to tell.  It is at once inspiring, touching, and unnerving.  It tends to make its teller appear wise and neutral, and the world appear indescribably crazy.  It goes something like this:

The 1960's were a time full of repression, possibility and revolution.  That's true throughout the world.  The United States was hell-bent on destroying itself, based on a huge, traumatic war and a myriad of smaller wars at home led by people like J. Edgar Hoover.  

Bay area residents, perhaps more so than the residents of other places, saw that things were possible other ways.  They pulled off what Harry Hay called the "ugly green frog skin of conformity" and became who they already were.  As James Baldwin wrote,

There were many blacks and whites together: it was hard to tell which was the imitation.  They were so free that they believed in nothing; and didn't realize that this illusion was their only truth and that they were doing exactly as they had been told.

Something revolutionary went on here, goes on here, was here, will be here, lives here, sleeps here, thinks about here.  Oakland is the Hollywood of Radicalism.  The variety?  You name it.  Disabled rights, Tribal rights, slow food, Alice Waters' California Cuisine, Rick Ayers' "small schools movement," independently-owned music labels, and personal computing.

Embellishments aside, there's some truth to the founding myth.  There was something radical in the music--Alice Coltrane lived here, and I saw, years ago, someone playing a massive gong in public, and there was a man yelling through a megaphone, and you might (still) see an American car, with trimmings, rolling down the street like a bowling ball dropped on the ground, blasting a Zapp and Roger thumpy synthesizer slap-bass jam that your children will dance to in high school:

There were Hari Krishnas chanting and wearing thousand-year-old robe fashions, and there was a man who wore lily-white gloves and stood on the corner of 51st Street and MLK and waved at the line of commuters sifting away from the MacArthur Maze.  His street, formerly known as Grove, was renamed after King.  Scholars link many political changes to the influence of the Black Panther Party, founded as an organization for self-defense, in the building which is now the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

The Black Panthers have filtered into the rest of society, many of their community-service functions having been 'adopted,' however slowly, by other institutions, such as medical clinics and legal support groups for prisoners.  The Panthers are still in Oakland.  If you don't see any Panthers walking around Oakland, you're not really looking. If you're in London, go see bay area author/producer Pat Thomas at "Listen Whitey: The sounds of Black Power 1965-1975" presented by The University of East London at Iniva,  1 Rivington Place, EC2A 3BA on Monday October 15th at 18:30.

Like London, Oakland is more than what we've imagined.  Like London, it's not a "black city," or a "white city"--diversity is its defining characteristic.  

What do we mean by "diversity"?  We're not sure yet, are we?

I see diversity becoming the imagination of a hybrid future, rather than anything that exists now.  Diversity is breathing in the strange fresh air of science fiction, listening to Alice Coltrane and early Miles Davis, from Jack Johnson to Get Up With It, watching comedians like W. Kamau Bell and Dick Gregory, going to see the Otolith Group, and appreciating Marlon Brando for dodging military duty by reporting his race as "Human" on his draft card.

Maybe Werner will write another volume of Oakland interviews.  I'd love to see one with the Turf Feinz, M.C. Hammer, Shock-G, Billie Joe Armstrong, Michael Lewis, or Joanna Newsom.

Deltron Zero.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

The McGurk Effect

Hearing Lips And Seeing Voices: The McGurk Effect - The funniest movie is here. Find it
Via Joe Banks' Rorschach Audio - Strange Attractor Press (a wonderful book that lands between Steve Goodman's military-genic sonic ecologies and Steven Connor's other worldly enquires into Edison and ventriloquism....nice interview with Banks here)

edit - Joe Banks' blog here

Friday, 27 July 2012

some posts about rap

I've been blogging about rap. Most of it relates to or heralds from stuff in our Vocalities discussions. My research (if you can call it that) has kinda spiralled (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181) a little since then but I think some posts will resonate strongly with particular essays from course and also previous posts here.

There are 6 parts, the footnotes and bibliography are all in part 6. If anyone has any comments I'd like to hear them.


Trill Shit: Cacophonies Part 1
Trill Shit: Cacophonies Part 2
Trill Shit: Cacophonies Part 3
Trill Shit: Cacophonies Part 4
Trill Shit: Cacophonies Part 5
Trill Shit: Cacophonies Part 6

In retrospect I think my treatment is a little scatty and un-thorough, but some of the connections are cool and there are lots of rap videos.


Here's an ODB a capella

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Robotic Mouth

So Burroughs.

Amy - this is for you and the nifty triangulation of Barthesian grain, Kempelen's machine and future machinic technologized voice via Ronell's Alex G Bell mecha-voco-morto-logy. Proper moves.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Eleusinian Press - Finding a Voice

Newhaven Journeyman: Issue 1 – Finding a Voice published by Eleusinian Press is now available to pre-order. I'm really looking forward to reading it. It will contain a long essay by me (if anyones interesting in reading my random musing on Sloterdijk or Echo and Narcissus) and the other contributors sound really interesting, I'm looking forward to reading those. I know the editor has a psychology background but I also know the contributors come from all sorts of disciplines - it'll be great to see all the different analyses and enquiries into Voice. I'm pretty much convinced that all insightful texts come from utilising a variety of disciplines, the gold is in the gaps.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Disa Sauter at Vox Lab conversations

Heard the voice of Disa Sauter at Affective Voices (Vox Lab conversations) - she spoke of some very interesting themes around heterologous relationships (<>) between neural emotional categories and their vocalized/semantic logosified correlates.... Her work looks fascinating.

She also spoke of how neurological to physical mechanisms interact with speech, how an angry utterance has an autonomous intonation and therefore received meaning from the semantic 'word'.... (she didn't mention chinese one syllable articles but I half expected it).... this research feels important for my recent obsession of how the sympathetic nervous system may interact with breath (which I believe is the soul of voice).... However in contrast to my thoughts she also spoke of how anger and nervousness affect the muscles of the face and therefor the speech - which throws my corny vowel/chest - consonant/mouth theory into doubt..... but in light of this theoretical parallelogram I started dwelling on whistling - a sonorous sound of breath granted resonance by the mechanics of the mouth, the tongue and lips (or teeth?) - an utter lie.... it is singing without the honesty of fleshy corporealization, a mechanically dishonest cyborgian siren - is this why whistling is so sinister? There is something creepy about whistling.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

One Syllable Article

Amy - on the constrained writing tip (Bok's Eunoia or Perec's Le Grand Palindrome).. check:

One Syllable Article!

Barthes dream or nightmare? But also logos having the last laugh - reminds me of Negarestani's claims of vowels as impeding language and communication.... (see consonantal tyranny post)... where the dental, labial and palatal speech mechanisms fail and crumble under the pressure of data-intensity -  the dead derridean symbols prove their prowess as sturdier info-'carriers' - better signifiers! But life is more than what can be signified right?

Saturday, 21 April 2012


My new favourite word. No consonants. A dionysian/bacchic vowel howl!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

speech jammer

Decent Accents Ascent and Indecent Accents Descent

Birmingham accents predictably come up as most disadvantaging...sigh.... We covered loads of accent-centric culturo-cartographies in the last few Vocalities sessions, but I still find it incongruous with the premises contemporary life (internet, travel, diaspora etc) that accent still has a class, a culture or even a place ...

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Sirens = vowels

Mainly posting to get Westwood off the top, but heres a Siren pimping her vowels for some glistening disco cyborgian sonic...

Thursday, 15 March 2012

My bad: MLE

I have been saying MLD (Multicultural London Dialect) BUT I was wrong!
It is actually known as MLE (Multicultural London English)

Here is the Wikipedia article: MLE

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Ultravox "The Voice"

Native these words seem to me
All speech directed to me
I've heard them once before
I know that feeling

Stranger emotions in mind
Changing the contours I find
I've seen them once before
Someone cries to me

Oh the look and the sound of the voice
They try, they try
Oh the shape and the power of the voice
In strong low tones

Forceful and twisting again
Wasting the perfect remains
I've felt it once before
Slipping over me

Oh the look and the sound of the voice
They try, they try
Oh the shape and the power of the voice
In strong low tones

Sweetly the voices decay
Draw on the lines that they say
I'd lost it once before
Now it cries to me

Oh the look and the sound of the voice
They try, they try
Oh the shape and the power of the voice
In strong low tones
Oh the look and the power of the voice
They try
Oh the shape and the sound of the voice
In strong low tones
Oh the shape and the power of the voice
In strong low...

They could almost be singing about the authoritative voice of God, of the Father in the chorus:

Oh the shape and the power of the voice
In strong low tones

 and sirens in the verses:

Sweetly the voices decay
Draw on the lines that they say
I'd lost it once before
Now it cries to me

New Burial (bit late)

Burial's new EP "Kindred" is out now - a depressingly urban/hauntological track "kindred" is a cyan lit post crash example of spliced/brutalised vocogranularisms post produced to maximum (nihilistic) effect - (read cyberic -sonic fetishism - although not overt fetishism, it's a teasing, taunting, fetishism of absence).

I know that echo (in regular terms) and sampling aren't that new in music - but the haunting of the song by this half vocal, always slipping away, falling off the aural stage, evading the traditional prominence that affords satisfaction and leaving a loneliness, a decay, a loss feels strikingly negative (although Burial did do similar things on his first 2 LPs). The vocal power is always stifled, or smothered, asphyxiated by the cold, swirling winds of the contemporary vista (insert McCarthian prose at will): "choking out syllables smothered by the aural ash and soot that seems to soak the recording in a humongous, unearthly rumbling."(1). There is a tension between the voice and the track, an anxiety between "foggy vocal samples and the peaks and valleys of energy"(2)

I'm developing a bad habit of likening almost all art and music to a W. G. Sebald novel but I kinda think of the voice in Burial as taking the position of WWII in Sebalds work. Always there, never addressed directly, glimpsed on the periphery of narrative/audition but none the less the soul and power of the piece/peace....

(1)quoted from the you tube link
(2)quoted from The Wire 338 April 2012, Lisa Blanning (reviewer), pp. 67

P.S. - this new track is jostling for position, with Moth, as my favourite Burial track. Moth:

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Derrida should've just focused on writing...oh wait, he did!

Alexander G Weheliye, "Hearing Sonic Afro-Modernity" from Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity - Wow, what an essay! There is loads in this one, and I'm really only scraping the surface of just the ontological implications of sound in the first few pages..... I found the real sledge hammer as early as page 24...

"Daesein seems to emanate from the repetition and (re)iteration. (boom, this is massive) (...) sound recordings do not secure evidence of preexisting information but "merely" disseminate recoded sounds: they are forever suspended in a circulatory tide.. (...) they are permanently lacking, always secondary (..) prostheses"(pp. 24)

leaving Derrida's suspect and historically dominant graphizing alone and skipping to the next part concerning the sonic/vocal daesein...

"Sound and voice, on the other hand, require an audience to guarantee. legally, epistemologically, and ontologically, their continuing being" (pp. 25)

This is almost the core of the argument for me, starting point, the realisation that leads to the graphing, the scribing of voice and sound being unravelled. Voice and sound are not so much voice and sound outside of the instance of audition -  a text is a text, it is typed up, and if the dead letters are incorrect or divulge too much or too little the scriber can amend before posterity calcifies the words to words.... voice and song on the other hand are not like this. At the moment of their utterance their is a voice, the voice of audition is also a voice - only present at audition, it's meaning, it's presence changes and the options for control, for the speaker, listener and disseminator are subject to the ghost of vocal audition - voice is so much more temporally/emotionally/corporeally subject than any text, and it's Daesein is this, it's being is, it's being a voice almost it's very fact that that it cannot be graphed.... that it changes, is subject to temporal and cultural breezes - it's the exo-matic ontology of sound and voice...

"Hence the written record seems autonomous of any reception and reproduction processes, whereas sound and voice become documents, when and if they do so at all, only in the murky domains of reproduction and reception" (pp. 25)

Skipping back up the the etymology of phonograph, this word, it's etymological construction itself exemplifies the paradoxical core, the impossibility of writing voice.... phone = voice/sound, graph = drawing/writing/recording.

"The the oral and phonetic are written down (recorded) by the "phonograph" (sound writer), imploding the original aperture between writing and sound by calling to attention the improbability of writing sound in any commonsensical manner. The etymology of the "phonograph" and the words used to designate many other 19th century technologies - "photography" (picture writing) and "cinematography" (film writing) - suggest that inscription seems to be at the root of of any kind of recording: more than recording itself, it seems that sound necessitates transposition into writing to even register as technology. The place of script as a preferred, if not dominant, cultural technology in the West makes for the authority that it relays in relation to speech and sound, which, in contrast to writing, have to be reiterated and imagined as writing in oder to operate as recordings; sonic recordings are the means rather than the end to a status as record."

If I type a text, and email it or print it off and hand it to a friend, it is a text, I do not need to call it a textographic document, no -  it is just text. However, if I record sound, voice, cinema, or light, it needs to always be the shackled to an absurd (especially incase of sonic phenomena - occularcentricism?) scriptic suffix - it is always "phonography", "cinematography", or "photography"... Admittedly graphy can also mean drawing, but this still leaves the former of the 3 hostages of writings dominance utterly absurd - one cannot draw or write sound/voice - but we keep bolting this incompatible suffix onto the end because (as Dolar outlined too) there has been the dominance of writing throughout western metaphysical tradition.

I see graphy (text, script, words, writing, drawing too) as consisting of an almost endomatic-ontology it is itself, it is being in itself, whilst still on the shelf.... and sonic/voco phenomena as consisting of exomatic ontologies - their Daesein come from very different places. However their has been a privilege given to the endomatic daesein as far as recording information is concerned, or rather recoding information as been presumed as having to be endomatic (that I do not believe  - ever read an essay twice? I'll leave that for the time being though....)

Ironically, the ill named phonograph has been key to undoing this tyranny of the endo-matic / text - graphy-centric. The copyright wars are a example given of this given in the text:

"For instance, in a discussion about The Musical Copyright Act of 1909 (the first such act to include recorded music), Lisa Gitelman shows that the central debate concerned the split between sound and vision, especially writing, in the phonograph. Since musical copyright law was heretofore based on sheet music, in order for recorded music to function as intellectual property, composers - performers did not even merit a footnote - had to prove that the phonograph read their music in the same or similar way as did consumers who who played the music from printed scores" (pp. 28)

"Record companies, in particular,in order to claim all the profits from the record sales, argued that phonograph records did not represent written embodiments of the composer's score since they were not legible by humans"(pp. 28)

"The dispute over the Copyright Act revolved aroundwhether recordings based on the copyrighted sheet music merely represented the use of the score or a particular performance of a composition as opposed to an altogether different material manifestation of music" (pp. 28)

The phonograph caused a rupture, a rupture between things that can be written and things that cannot. Previously many things that ought to be uttered or heard or sung were forced into a position of being written - ironically the phonograph emancipated the sonic from the signified, this piece of technology utterly exploded the arena of the symbol, and in the ruins people sensed, heard, and experienced that which was previously thought to be no more than akin to the text I'm typing now. Isn't technology powerful? I'd like to take a phonograph back to greece around 350 bc and show it to Aristotle and Plato - I wonder what they would say about the sonorous "ontological doppleganger" - I expect that they would be "not so much interested in hearing their own recorded voices as those of singers and comedians, perhaps because the voice, even more so than writing, represents pure interiority and the proper domain of the sovereign human subject" (pp. 27).

""to go on record" (...) - here the ontological authority of writing meets it's doppelganger in the annals of patent law." (pp. 26) - How often is sound, pure sound and voice used in law nowadays as a signature, thinking of wire-taps, nixon tapes, phone hacking, voice recognition software, vocal disguises etc etc etc

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Bubbles and Speech

I was in the garden blowing bubbles today when I was told about how bubble blowing is used as a tool for speech therapy....

Pretty much the first chapter in Sloterdijk is about the bubble's significance in regard to seeing ones own, breath, a visual of ones soul and a consequence of God's original ceramic-pnematic creation of Adam - God blowing life into his clay man. Seems like the link to subjectivizing ones breath and respiro-control is vital for learning to speak.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

The consonantal tyranny?

The consonants are killing me. 

Let us begin by thinking about H, as an anomalous consonant. It's breathy and always requires an exhalation; and thus can be seen as the engine behind a vowel howl. The properties of H are quite unlike the orally smothering lisps, palate-brutalist clicks and gnashing ticks of the other consonants, H is the softest, the sympathetic consonant from the chest, from the heart – it is the only non-oral consonant. It bathes the vowels (e.g. : “home”, “help”, “hehehe” and “honey”) in vaporous cloud of life, of corporeal, human life. H the signifier for ones soul, God breathed life into Adam(1), a genesis of ceramico-pneumatic poiesis – it can be argued that our breath is that of Gods, we share our respiratory material with god, when we are unconscious or asleep asleep we breath. H is the ever-present breath. Its absence is death.

Let’s take a moment to analyze the more typological characterizations of H in context with it’s consonantal peers.


H is has 2 lines of reflectional symmetry, the only other consonant that also contains these is X. X is the polar opposite of H in nature, it delivers a flurry of oral violence against the vowel. Say “HEX”, slow it down, “hheeeeccckkkkksss”, “heeeekkkst” - the X is a triad, a chimerical beast that can kill a vowel with a tumble of tongued, teethly guillotine strikes, X is a massacre, a spinning triple kick of devastating logos shackling brutality.

X marks the spot, it denotes a place, it is a mark – in the strictly Derridian sense it is a deathly cross, a morbid hieroglyphic – signifying a loss presence, a signature of void, the hand of an event that was. It is historically analogous that the X has been used a the substitute signature for the illiterate who cannot scrawl their absence, the X is chosen, not a flourish of affirmative ticks or the neutrality of the hyphen but the mortological signification of X is most apt.

But back to soulful, affirmative and positivistic H. Think of laughter: “Hehehehe”, or “Hahahaha”. Can you hear a consonant other than a silently lungosonic H in laughter? Often not, certainly not in genuine laugher; utter joy, 'hysterics' (often characterised as its ascent into pure respiratory reaction) and happiness and are often, uncontrollably expressed in a respire-centric pneumatization of H and vowels. Are these not more quite natural phenomena that support H’s corporeal sympathy, and position as an affirmative signifier of life and soul?

However, there is an exception, the sinister laugh: Mwhahaha - an exhalation of vowel howls tied to a primary foundation of consonantal control. This eruption of evil consonantal palate mechanisms entwining around genuinely animalistic and respirocentric vocalizations can be been elsewhere, in martial arts, battle cries and malicious sports chants – where by a strong animalistic vowel, a howl, is heightened (in an almost reflexive utilization of phonetic constructs) to intimidation through the aggressively rapid deployment of brutalizing consonantal phonemes. A prevalent example of this has successfully been reincarnated in modern video games (perhaps due to low quality sound, a merely tonal, vowelocentric vocalization of aggression could also be mis-understood, or mis-heard, as a cry of pain or desperation(2)). The now infamous “Hadouken” or the “ATATA” (coincidentally both triphonic) are fittingly caricaturesque examples of such sinisterly entwined consonantal and vowelian inter-phonemic dynamics.

The tyranny of consonants within language, their mode of dominance with logos against corporeal expression or sublimely alogos respiratory vocalization is becoming more ubiquitous as technologically formatted means of communication emerge. Example: predictive text. As the monopoly of the E.161 12-key telephone keypad stoically stands as our only interface for converting our agitated and twitching digits into digital code, we are jettisoning the signifiers of passion – we are missing out the vowels.

However as Reza Negarestani comments on vowels:

"the 'cognitive / writing complexity' of vowelless alphabets which itself renders the vowel-based writing systems(which cannot be merely reduced to the generally accepted dimension of WRITING) as communicational tyrannies (or effective communicational defense mechanisms); Following the recommended articles, one will finally ask “what does a vowel do?” (a simplified but crucial question)

Firstly, vowels are among the fundamental anthropomorphic oversimplifying systems over communication (worse than redundancy) Back to neo-Sumerian age: see how the channel regimes of hieroglyphs/pictographs or tools of ‘corporealization / stabilization’ and transcendental informatics directly deposit as vowels, making a consolidated repression on the cognitive interfaces or the affect space of the nervous system and how vowels are customized as the Nucleus of ‘representation’. On the hand, consider vowelless alphabets and the gates they creatively open (just a few obvious threads): right-brain processing (i.e. slow processing or taking a more engaging paths for interlocking with communication systems) [1]; engineering semantic irresolution which brings an immense tolerance of informatic pollution (suspension, horror, complexities, deferral, etc.), this offers a great potential for engaging with ambiguities and abstractions; the resistance to voice (the authority: pharaoh?) is exceptionally increased; etc.

[1] also visuo-spatial processing and the ability of identity-recognition of different objects with different configurations are highly promoted. "

Negarestani states that vowels are part of an anthropomorphism of "systems of communication". But isn't a system of communication essentially a construct? To anthropocentrically construct an intrinsically vital component of a communication system (the vowel) that so beautifully expresses, and affords space for the corporealization of language, for the whimper or the battle cry to be the pneumatico-respiratory soul between the guillotines of logos’ mercenary consonantal foot soldiers – isn’t this a valuable substitute for more autonomous or flexible forms of communication (such as digitalized programs, or mathematically formed matrices)?

Let’s reconsider the historic significatory politics of the vowel first, for as yet we have only contemplated the articulatory aspects. It is all well and good to juxtapose the eight consonantal articulations (bilabial, labiodental, interdental, alveolar, palatal, velar, glottal and uvulars) and pit them against a helplessly emotional, soft and fleshy vowel (which has one mode of articulation: airflow) – but this would be to binary, too easy. 

Rather than investigate a pareidolic mirage, echoing The Connors fight against Skynetian cyborg persecution(3), we must dig deeper. In this linguistic excavation we can return to Negarestani once more:

“vowelless alphabets are just anthropomorphic as they have been engineered by the high priests of Semitic Slaves (and in their open laboratories) who unleashed their alphabetic epidemic once they composed it (no later or extra programming) ... think using the term anthropomorphic in a negative sense (economical lines of transcendence, corporealization, expression, communication, etc) is not appropriate here ... their alphabetic epidemic hit autonomy and activated as a self-propagation germline with its own uncontrollable artificial intelligence, diversities and cognitive insurgencies as soon as it was set free ... vowelless alphabets are not anthropomorphic in this negative sense but radically artificial, emerged out of participations between different lines simultaneously: hyperstitional grasp of the universe [there is no word FICTION in ancient Hebrew because it’s already a contagious fiction], numeracy, anti-image / anti-voice cognitive patterns, etc.) ... but take the path of vowels: the authoritative corporealization systems of the early syllabic/pictographic languages (entirely based on the despotic anthropomorphism or affordance-based [J. J. Gibson] cognition with the universe through representation and corporealization) are directly deposited as vowels. Vowels are also autonomous in some respects as they restrain, direct and manage, re-organize and smuggle the initial anthropomorphic transcendence of the pictographs’ corporealization systems and their cognitive / vocal repressions through the progression (evolution?) of vowel-based alphabets ... vowels are watchers: they maintain programs of their nucleus. They carry and develop their nucleus without introducing much diversity to it -- only re-organization of their nucleus by re-organizing themselves. Vowels (re-)manage and optimize the initial despotic corporealization processes and the VOICE (Who?: Pharaoh, God, Cosmos, Oedipus, Sphinx?) lurking within them from the first syllabic/pictographic place.”

Corporealizatory linguistic evolution as a product of repression from anthropological corpo-forms – the ancient logograms harboured an anthropological tyranny, rooted in repression, and this tyranny has evolved into the vowel graphemes and phonemes of today. Should we re-think vowels as the breathy, harmonious, resonantal, ghostly, Siren-Cyclons that haunt and thwart our voyage to the Eden of truly autonomous communication? Or rather should we simply cherish their corporeality, their autonomy from communication constructs and their opportunity as gates to the animalistic? Is this another form of the  dyadic extimacy within the voice?

(1)See Sloterdijk, for further ceramic-pneumatic analysis in Genesis.
(2)This also aligns the platonic thread of logoscentricism against the voice as harmony or music – of meaning and sense being the the side car of political, phallocentric dominance.
(3)Or simply allows one to dredge up Dolarian dyadicisms – the ineradictable extimacies of consonantal/vowelific phonotactics..

Useful links and stuff

Akkadian Language
The Old Babylonian Period (c. 1900-1500 BCE) Languages recording at SOAS - Mark on predictive texts
Mark and Reza on vowel elimination  - etc

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Another Dolar Interview

Nice little interview with Mladen Dolar over on wie geht kunst 

Phone Phreaks

Just been listening to a very interesting Radiolab episode that featured the following story....

"In the mid 1950's, a blind seven-year-old boy named Joe Engressia Jr. made a discovery that changed his own life and many others. While idly dialling information on the family telephone, he heard a high-pitched tone in the background and started whistling along with it. Slowly, he learned to recognise all kinds of tones, pulses, clicks and beeps that the phone system used to talk to itself. And when he got good at decoding those sounds, he became the grandaddy of a whole movement of like-minded obsessives known as "Phone Phreaks".

Basically this guy learned to speak telephone!!!! How cool is that. Lends something interesting to musings from a few weeks ago on the telephonic voice / body / grain and the signification of the dial tone.

Listen to the episode here (Starts around 50:00)

Read more about Phone Phreaking here

The Voice in Bubbles

Here's a vococentric snippet from a longer post here about Peter Sloterdijk's 'Bubbles'

Secondly, and almost contradictory, in each of Sloteridjk’s metaphorical springboards of theory and his jerry rigging of countless conveniently homogenous examples, one can find exciting seams of thought provoking re-readings. The Siren Stage chapter is particularly fascinating for me; for after many weeks of enthralling but (distinctly Lacanian) voco-phronesis his approach to the Voice’s genesis via in-utero (specifically skeletal resonance through the mothers pelvis bone) aurality felt like a revelation, I may have paused for a moment or two to digest what I was reading, there may be critically important phenomena concerning aurality and voco-centric perception before a child is born, let alone the mirror phase:

“Recent psychoacoustic research, especially that of the French otorhinolaryngologist and psycholinguist Alfred Tomatis and his school, has attempted a suggestive explanation of the unusual selectivity of the human ear that manifests itself in the siren effect. Not only do these investigations in the human auditory sense and it’s evolution show beyond doubt that unborn children can already hear extremely well because of the ear’s early development – possibly from the embryonic stage onwards, and certainly in the second half of pregnancy; in addition, there are impressive observations showing that this early listening ability does not result in the fetus being passively at the mercy of the mother’s sonic inner life, or the water-filtered voices and noises of the outside world. Rather, the fetal ear already develops the ability to find it’s bearings in the ever-present, invasive sonic environment actively through independent, lively listening and non-listening. As Tomatis untiringly emphasizes, the child’s stay in the womb would be unbearable without the specific ability not to listen and to mute large areas of noices, as the mother’s heartbeat and digestive sounds, heard in such close proximity, would be like the noise from a 24-hour building site or lively barroom conversation. If the child did not learn to avert it’s ears at an early stage, it would be ravaged by permanent noise torture.” (Sloterdijk, 2011, pp. 501-502)

Allegedly Tomatis has shown that the unborn child has selective hearing, it ignores the cacophony of respiratory hummings and digestive gurglings in order to be at peace. However there is an more intriguing effect of this in-utero aural selectivity: in-utero vococentricism as subject creation (!):

“The child’s state as the object of the mother’s expectations is conveyed by the audio-vocal means to the fetal ear, which, upon hearing the greeting sound, unlocks itself completely and takes up the sonorous invitation. By adopting a posture of listening, the happy and active ear devotes itself to the words of welcome. In this sense, devotion is the subject-forming act par excellence, for devoting oneself means rousing oneself into the necessary state of alertness to open up to the sound that concerns you. (…)
From the subject’s earliest beginnings, the ray of intentionality with which it “relates” itself to something given has an echo character. Only because it is intended by the mother’s voice can it intend the enlivening voice itself. The audio-vocal pact creates a two-way traffic in a ray; enlivening forces are answered with a rising of the self to liveliness” (Sloterdijk, 2011, pp. 504-505)

“Because it is able to listen, the fetal ear can selectively highlight the mothers affirming voice amid the constant intrauterine noise. In this gesture the incipent subject experiences a euphoriant stimulation; according to Tomatis, it is the overtones of the mother’s soprano voice in particular that offer an irresistible stimulus of joy. To make these claims plausible, Tomatis interpreted the mother’s entire body as a musical instrument – albeit one that does not serve to play a piece to the listener, but rather brings about the original tuning of the ear. The transmission of high and extremely high frequencies in the soft, sound-swallowing bodily milieu is enabled, according to Tomatis, by the unusual conductivity and resonant quality of the skeleton; the mothers pelvis in particular is supposedly capable of conveying the subtlest high frequency vibrations of the mother’s voice to the child’s ear like the back of a cello. This ear listens at the mothers pelvic floor and spine as a curious visitor listens at a door behind which he suspects delightful presents. What the little guest cannot yet know is that this listening is its own reward, and that seeking to reach the other side would be futile. The joy of anticipation already contains the wealth of the enjoyable” (Sloteridijk, 2011, pp. 507)


“This shows that humans emerge without exception from a vocal matriarchy: this is the psychological reason for the siren effect. But while Homer’s Sirens produce sweet obituaries, the mother’s siren voice is anticipatory: it prophesizes a sounding fate for the child. In listening to it the fetal hero embarks on his own odyssey. The irreplaceable voice utters an immediately self-fulfilling prophecy: “you are welcome” or “you are not welcome”. Thus the mother’s vocal frequency becomes a Last Judgment shifted back to the beginning of life.” (Sloteridjk, 2011, pp. 508-509).

There is, or course a rather obvious connection here to the original acousmatic voice and its cropping up in literature and film, the original source-less vocal in The Wizard of Oz, Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (Prince Myshkin listening behind the door) and Door scene in Stevensons The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: “"Ah, that's not Jekyll's voice--it's Hyde's!" cried Utterson. "Down with the door, Poole!"”. However, the idea of the matriarchal voice, selectively perceived through an intrauteral skeletal resonance, as the original moment of subject formation feels radical. Firstly because it departs with the well worn, western, and ocular-centric mirror stage, but more interestingly because it leads me to connect this original voice, to language – in particular to the relationship of vowel howls in language, and the mechanistically cranial dominance of consonants.

In reference my own musing’s around Vowel Stripped Tic-Talk of “the excavation of the vowel as screaming, howling primordial remnant” and “the dichotomy or extimacy of consonants and vowels as another manifestation of the conflict at the core of language, or conflict of the animal and flesh against order and post anthropoid communication constructs” I have a question to pose. Wouldn’t the soprano tones of the original matriarchal voice be vowels? Can such violent consonantal/vowel splices such as “Kcht” , “PPh” or “St” resonate though to the fetal hero via the mother’s skeletal vocal door? I doubt it.  So, I’d like to add to Sloteridjk’s observations of the original “subject-forming act par excellence”  and propose that, on top of being pre-mirror stage, the catalyst, the core of this intrauteral voco/aural revelation for the fetus is a vowel, and not a consonant. In regard to this I’d like to re-think the previous texts I’ve studied concerning the voice – for example, when Roland Barthes speaks of “The Grain of The Voice”- is he referring to the consonants as well? The dyadic relation ship of consonantal brutality inflicted upon the original vowel is, for me at least, emerging as an important dyad within the dyad of the voice.

Also - in light of this, I felt I ought to re-diagrammatize the voice diagram, I have removed the circle that denotes voice, as voice is spectral. I have also merged the different territories of voice so that their confluences can be thought around more. I have tried to label where Tic-Talk and intrautero original voice fits in. Don't ask me to label presence!