Speaking, Here and Now
By Teresa María Díaz Nerio
In order to deconstruct the speech act as a movement which consists in the return to the voice as the unknown and speech as the articulation of the unknown in the use of language, the voice would therefore refer more directly to sound and sound production, as well as to a primal contact with that unknown which makes the movement that allow us to speak. Therefore speaking is here beyond speech as it relates to the voice as sound and to the oratory, that is, to the two ends of language as we know it. The focus of this paper is the voice and the space created by it as a result of speech, that is, the voice as pre-existing the uttering voice, as the movement which allows language to exist beyond representation.
The voice extends notions of subjectivity in the event of the speech act as a consequence of the discursiveness of oratory, which is coming into being in the act of speaking, the performing speaker acts as an intermediary in between both “spaces”, before and after speech, giving place to a discursive and gestured movement that exists both as language and gesture. That is to say, the voice is not here to signify ‘identity’ but rather to inscribe a concept, a universal, which is not in the biological constitution of the body, which makes sound possible, nor in the representational consequence of appearance but in sound as voice as an anterior and posterior acknowledgement of the now as an universal1. Therefore we here refer to the voice, not as it would be described but as it describes itself in the moment as the movement which is generated in the uttering of the speaking voice. The speech act becomes the relève of persona, projecting the voice as a revealed space constructed in the staging and performance of the oratory, wherefrom an ongoing deconstruction of the subject unfolds.
Furthermore, the voice is neither a denial nor an acknowledgment of “identity” but it always refers to something else, to somebody else, that is the voice is an integral part of actuality in its impossibility of fixation in time or space, it always refers to a past or future which is now, that is, a negotiation in between dimensions and notions of what space or time may be. Therefore, it is in speaking where we find that ‘space’ being created, a space which is not a building or a physical existing space, but a space of sounds and concepts, which hence exists in space and time as a constant revolt, constant and revolting, that is, as both, one and the other and one as other, in static movement, and static and movement. That is the way in which we correlate the world of appearance to speech, through the mediation of the one who speaks, and the connection of the one who speaks to meaning.
The ‘voice’ projects itself towards the spectators through the speaker, that is the space created by it, to bridge the gap between the here2 and there of appearance, which is analyzed in this paper as being the ‘image’ referring mainly to the speaker’s gestures which are also constructed and deconstructed in the speech act through the ‘script’ as the concept and intention of the speech, mostly in written form. This three different levels of the speech act function as to generate an in between absence and presence which becomes palpable in the relation of voice to silence, when one replaces the other, one is present in a certain absence of itself. Through gestures the speaker creates a before and after, the speech act is a relation between timelessness and time in the ‘image’ as the gesture emerges. The voice is related to timelessness as it is not captured in time, that is, the voice is not only the sound produced by the speaker but also the before and after of the image, that is the voice is always present and absent, it is and it is not in time. In this way we can try to deconstruct the functioning structure of the speech act as an event where the speaker unfolds the difference which populates language in the form of the written word as the ‘script’, the oratory as ‘voice’ and the use of gestures in the ‘image’; the unfolding of the speech act is the unfolding of the speaker as a structure for speech.
That is, the speaker comes into being through the use of the spoken word, which indicates a certain acting out of a character, as being other to itself in principal by being itself as language, as voice. The gestured movements practiced by the speaker intensify that other realm wherefrom he/she speaks, that is the character itself as a moment, and the gestures as pointing to a somewhere else for that moment to be moments. In that sense the speech act is a conjuncture of somewhere elses, realms beyond what can be perceived, the ‘script’, ‘image’ and the ‘voice’ are this realms which are beyond the person who is addressing an audience. We can speak of a movement between what is visible and what is not, and this movement which is in the moment produces sound as voice and as a movement that passes throughout the body. That is, speech transgresses the boundaries of space-time as it is not implicit in the presentation of something but it is the coming into being of it. In this paper the deconstruction of the speech act into ‘voice’, ‘image’ and ‘script’, is intended as a more in depth analysis of this different instances or moments, that are revealed in the speech act in the body of the performer or speaker. The speaker unfolds itself into realms beyond appearance that is beyond the visible but through the visible, that is through the medium which is given.
In the speech act discourse exists as a monologue which makes it into a clear divide between the speaker as a singularity and the audience. The audience justifies its existence as audience in the consumption of thoughts, that is, ideas, whilst the speaker justifies itself by speaking. In this justification there exists the danger of a fixed structure of thought production and thought consumption which fixates speaker and audience into an unmovable subordinated condition. Therefore the conditions for speaking must be analyzed as the conditions for thought production. In this regard we speak of a beyond, as we try to describe a beyond which is in the now, which is inscribed in the realms mentioned above because in this realms is where the speaker is unfolding itself. The position of observer and observed can be intermingled in this consumption, the speaker observing the audience, the audience observing the speaker, that is there is an exchange at the level of the image, that suggests the unity of the audience in the speaker, and vice versa. That is both as being observer and observed, but the act of speaking, of being the bearer of the script, director of the act, can determine to which degree this juxtaposition is possible.
The audience is invited to deconstruct itself as a distinct moment, as being the observer and being present in that observation, simultaneously it is necessary for the observer to exchange positions, that is, to be able to position itself in the place of the observed. The speaker is aiming at a double deconstruction, its own and that of the audience members, as a mirror which is a reflection of/from the speaker onto the audience, that is to understand their being as presence and absence through the performativity of the other and their own performativity thereof. That is, the singularity of each listener is a moment, and the coming together of these different moments. In other words the singularity is being deconstructed in order to show the splitting of self-consciousness into the double, this means that speech, image and sound only exist when there is a double, that is, when there are two distinct moments, an observer and an observed. Therefore we can speak of the voice as being the center of the speech act, because it reveals the double as being respectively observer and observed and as recreating the primordial movement of speech towards recognition, that is towards universality. Because we do and do not understand what it is meant but we do make meaning while speaking, we recognize that communication creates meaning through speech by recognizing the singularity of moments; the voice as well as being created at the moment, in the now, being the absence which is produced in the now as presence in the speech act, therefore we can say that the speaker is an intermediary between the yet to come and the now. And that is a privileged position of being speaking for a yet to come and a coming into being, but also not in the terms of something which is not there, but in the terms of absence as something to be revealed or presented.
The script has the quality of presentation as it is written and it will be spoken, it will be presented and it has being revealed and it will be revealed through written and spoken word, in the performativity of the speech act, through oratory. It is the conceptualization of speaking and of the gathering and staging of the speech act, wherefrom we can deduce that the speech act, as discourse, does not necessarily is about what is being said but rather it is about the fact that something is being said, it speaks of the meaning of speaking and the reflection on universality attached to the word ‘word’, the double in speech is the repetition of the same, the script, assimilating written language to the voice, that is, again, to the unknown, the here and there of the now as an universal. Therefore we can speak of the speaker and the audience as not being in contradiction with each other, but as presenting, the speaker and the audience to us, the speaker and the audience, that is, the act of speaking and listening , to be a receiver, means that the voice is being given and is being received, which again means that both are being received and given.
We speak of the voice as the consequence of a movement that gives and a moment which receives, not that it gives in order to receive, but that it gives because it is given and receives because it is received, that is, the act of communication by speech cannot be understood as an opposition to anything else, as it is present and it is absent in its presentation3. The image which is perceived as the speaking body, is therefore not a moment but moments, as it is receiving, it is related to another moment which gives, and vice versa. What is in this process is that space created by speech, which is a space beyond presentation as representation, meaning that it is not the space of appearance and character but rather it is the space of the voice, which gives and receives, which is and is not in the presentation of it. In that sense we can speak of the voice as being a universal, the consciousness of presence as absence, in the concentrated speech and in listening is where the space of the voice is being created as being there, that is, as coming into being by presenting an absence in the presence of it.
Speaking should be reconsidered not in terms of consumptions and justifications but in terms of necessity, revealing the urgency of acknowledging the space of the voice as a space of creation wherefrom we speak. Why do we speak?4
In the here and now of speech it is the universal which is speaking, not the “identity” of the object qua object, but the universal as singularity, that is, we do not know what it is, but it definitely is through the voice. That is, speaking now is to speak in order to reveal the voice as the relève of persona, in order to redefine the concepts which surrogate speech to a mere naming of objects, the world of appearance lies bare hands on the object that is being named, therefore subjugating that object to a petrified existence as an object. As we formerly stated speech is not a denial of “identity” as the one speaking confirms its own existence by speaking, but our claim goes further than the confirmation of the existence of the object as it is plausible to simultaneously say that the object does not exist, as soon as it feels confirmed by the uttering voice, as soon as it knows it is not by itself that it speaks, therefore it knows that it is not itself who is, but it is itself who is not.
1 “Showing, indicating, pointing out [the Now] is thus itself the very process which expresses what the Now in truth really is: namely as a result, or a plurality of Nows all taken together. And the pointing out is the way of getting to know, of experiencing, that Now is a universal.” G.W.F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind (1807), translated, with an introduction and notes by J. B. Baillie [2nd, rev. ed.] (Dover Publications, Inc. Mineola New York 2003, originally published: London; New York: Macmillan Co., 1910) p.60.
2 “The Here, which was to be pointed out, disappears in other Heres, and these disappear similarly. What is pointed out, held fast, and is permanent, is a negative This, which only is so when the Heres are taken as they should be, but therein cancel one another; it is a simple complex of many Heres. The Here that is being “meant” would be the point. But it is not: rather, when it is pointed out as being, as having existence, that very act of pointing out proves to be not immediate knowledge, but a process, a movement from the Here “meant” through a plurality of Heres to the Universal Here, which is a simple plurality of Heres, just as a day is a simple plurality of Nows.” Ibid. p.60
3 “One does not know: not out of ignorance, but because this non-object, this non-present present, this being-there of an absent or departed one no longer belongs to knowledge. At least no longer to that which one thinks one knows by the name of knowledge. One does not know if it is living or if it is dead…it is still nothing that can be seen when one speaks of it… this thing meanwhile looks at us and sees us not see it even when it is there. A spectral asymmetry interrupts here all specularity.” Jacques Derrida, Specters of Marx, translated from the French by Peggy Kamuf, introduction by Bernd Magnus & Stephen Cullenberg (Routledge, USA 1994, originally published in French as Spectres de Marx, Editions Galilee, 1993) p.6.
4 “When we express ourselves, we say more than we want to. We express the individual, but we speak the universal. I am cold. It is I who says: “I am cold”. But it is not I who am heard. I disappear between these two moments of speech. All that remains of me is the man who is cold, and this man is everyone […] In speaking, I throw myself into an unknown, foreign land, and I become responsible for it. I have to become universal.” Jean-Luc Godard, JLG/JLG (1994) quoted by Kaja Silverman, The Author as Receiver (October, Vol. 96 (Spring, 2001), pp. 17-34 The MIT Press) p.24.
Speaking Here and Now is an essay written in 2009 as part of my thesis part of the Masters in Fine Arts at the Dutch Art Institute, the title of which is Of.