Vox 26 – Elbow on Voice in Writing

Semiotician Ferdinand Saussure discusses the “natural bond, the only true bond” between sound and sense (46). This natural bond is what magic produces, i.e. a magical bond. We see this connection between sound and body in songs, lyrics, poetry, and spells. Derrida says “this natural relationship would have been inverted by the original sin of writing: ‘The graphic form [image] manages to force itself upon them at the expense of sound… and the natural sequence is reversed.” (Of Grammatology p. 25)

But in terms of my interest in voice, I’m really more interested in writing. Speaking characteristically misfires for me and seems less natural–always a gap and a sliding and a deferral–all those things he associates with ‘writing’. When I speak, the meaning is always not quite there in the words, except on certain rare occasions. What I like about writing is that it can often get more presence than speech–get closer to that alleged ideal condition of ‘full speech’.

Yes, writing lacks presence. But it often has the illusion of presence. How does that happen? That’s my project. Far from taking a mystical, metaphysical, religious slant, I’m trying to be a con-man or sophist. How to trick readers; produce illusions. A Sophist figures out how to make the worst argument appear the better. I’m working at figuring out how to make the absent or fictitious into presence.

However I do have a non-sophist, Platonic wrinkle to me. My answer to the sophist project is to find the better argument or side; and my voice answer is actually to try to get presence into the words. I have a hunch that it can be done–if you go about putting yourself into the right situation as you write. My premise is that you can mean what you say, but that it’s very hard. It’s not natural. I do believe that children do it more. It’s connected with the unconscious, and if you can hook up with the unconscious, you can intend what you say.