Saturday, 23 February 2013

The strings and pulleys of speech

Neurological basis of speech motor control found.

Thanks Neuroscience Research Techniques:

"A team of researchers has uncovered the neurological basis of speech motor control, the complex coordinated activity of tiny brain regions that controls our lips, jaw, tongue and larynx as we speak.
This work with potential implications for developing computer-brain interfaces for artificial speech communication and for the treatment of speech disorders, sheds light on an ability that is unique to humans among living creatures but poorly understood. Read more:

Journal article: Functional organization of human sensorimotor cortex for speech articulation. Nature, 2013"

But, as fascinating as this is, it does not apply to voice - because, of course, voice is not speech - we control our speech whereas voice has a habit of wandering, changing and shifting at will. So whereas the linguistic, phonological and neurologically indebted aspects of voice (these are speech) are subject to materialist eliminativism - Voice remains a mystery - precisely because it always was and is a mystery of our excess it is not totally us.

The parts of voice we may have thought of as being unique to us, to our being as a subject, are being whittled down to their material causes. This of course will never happen to voice. Voice is firstly more than us and our subjectivity (it is an excess), it is a strange object, uncomfortable to hear, we never own it. Secondly it is sound, a quite immaterial thing that changes it's nature as it exists through the material world (air, spaces, technology etc). If we take the strings and pulleys of speech production, the materialist roots of speaking, as a form of the materialist eliminativism of the subject we cannot expect this operation to ever find voice. Voice is an object. It was never ours to begin with.

So voice can waltz around and sing without strings - it never had them in the first place.

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