Notes: The Voice/The Surrealists/The Swedish Birds in Spring

May 2, 2009

In some ways the auditory imagination is more sensual and more corporeal than the visual imagination, more linked to the physicality of the body, to a corporeality that finds expression in the voice. For voice–which literally moved out of the body, propelled by breath coming from the lungs and formed by sounds as air passes up through the throat, over the tongue, and out into the world–carries an articulation of “body-ness.” Sound technician Daniel Deshays insists that “sound remodels the body, it ‘gets’ us in the gut. To work with sound is to work with bodies. The body of sound as well as the body of the auditor…. It is in this space [of the body] that games with sound are inscribed.”

Just as Desnos uses his body as the primary medium with which to contact the voices within him, he used his speaking voice to project to others a vivid sense of his own presence. The voice is the strongest marker of a person’s identity and, as such, is capable of tremendous affective power. After a time lapse of many years, one might be less likely to recognize an old friend face to face than to recognize his or her voice on the telephone–to hear the once familiar voice in isolation from the face as changed by time.

–I hear the voices of a thousand birds speaking outside my window and it’s only 2:45am. The light drives the Swedish birds mental. They only get about four hours of sleep a night at the moment, since it starts to get light at 2:30am and becomes fully dark at 10pm.


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