May 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Difficult to talk now: generally, of course,  but also about not speaking, about a silence that turns the speaker hoarse with effort, with dread. The answering machine contains a vast imagined space, an echo-chamber where words are sent between transmission & reception, spooled round & waiting for their feeding through the playback head. To speak to one is to speak into an archive, yr words prepared for the event whose survival will lend them importance. (What Barthes says of the photograph – “I shudder, like Winnicott’s psychotic patient, over a catastrophe which has already occurred. Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe” – can be re-said of voice-recording technology, but from another angle*.) How many times we’ve heard the greeting, said Hello, & stumbled on realising we’ve mistaken for a live voice the prelude to a tone & recording silence. // The torrent of distorted guitar, given no guidance by percussion until the final minute, has the quality of a monologue, a frustrated attempt to call the other into speech. He knows what it’s like to speak from an area-code w/out hope, to her zone of brilliance.

*For Barthes the traumatic nature of the photograph lies in the presence of the loved body, whose disintegration its reproduced image both masks & signifies. The voice, in spite of Hollywood’s insistence, is less intimately bound up w/ desire: who remembers the exact contours of their lover’s voice? In the street we don’t listen to others’ voices to gauge their attractiveness, we skim them w/ our eyes. (Nonetheless, the moment he realised it wasn’t going to work out was when he knew he couldn’t remember what her voice sounded like.)

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