My performance at the Flows event at the Vibe Gallery in 2013. My idea was to set up a dialectic between my non-verbal vocal performance and a text I had written for the occasion, copies of which were handed out to the audience. I reproduce the text below the video player.
OF COURSE, WE WRITE ALL THE TIME
(Text written for Flows, an event exploring the interface of performance and writing at the Vibe Gallery on the 2nd of December 2013)
Of course, we write all the time. We read all the time. We inscribe and decode constantly; processes which cannot easily be separated. The assumption that they are separate comes from an assumption inherent in writing – that writing is done at a distance; the distance of the writer from the reader, temporarily, spatially or both. As if there was a primal closeness that was temporarily lost and must be replaced – as if there was ever a place to be, except where we are not.
It is worth cosidering distance. Do I write myself with speech, simultaneously reading myself back – hearing myself? To do this, I must be somewhere else, looking back.
If it is writing, it can be read. It can be read it can be read because it has already been written and that is how we can find a way through the thicket of cacography, misprints and spelling mistakes, stutters and burps, cries. Cacography is endemic. The world is a writing made with broken fingers that we nonetheless navigate via the recognition that we share its fractures.
A forest of cacography.
Writing with broken fingers.
The tongue stumbles, convulses.
[…] “communication” in much contemporary discourse exists as a sort of ill formed, and differentiated conceptual germplasm. Rarely has any idea been so infested with platitudes. Commuication is good, mutuality is good, more sharing is better; these seemingly obvious dicta, because unexamined sweep too much under the rug. […] “communication” has become the property of politicians and bureaucrats, tehnologists and therapists, all eager to demonstrate their rectitude as good communicators, its popularity has exceeded its clarity.
[…] in classical rhetorical theory communicatio was also a technical term for a stylistic device in which an orator assumes the hypothetical voice of the adversary or audience; communicatio was less authentic dialogue than the simulation of dialogue by a single speaker.
John Durham Peters Speaking into the air
[Gossolalia…] this fiction of language does not cease to be taken for a language and treated as such. It is ceaselessly obliged “to mean” something. It excites an unwarying impulse to decrypt and to decipher that always supposes a meaningful organization behind the sequence of sounds. The history of glossolalia is made up almost entirely of interpretations that aim to make it speak in sentences and that claim to restore this vocal delinquency to an order of signifieds. In our era in the West, from the interpretation of the glossolalia of the Pentecost given in Acts of the Apostles (“pious men of all nations” understood “in their own languages”) down to Fredinand de Saussure or to psychoanalysis, the serious and jublilant play of speech always receives a rather clever hermeneutic response that reduces the “want to say” to a “want to say something”.
The history of this equivocation goes back to relations that, since antiquity, Reason has maintained with Fable while usurping its place. The scholarly hermeneutic effects a substitution of bodies: in the very space established by Fable, it replaces the spoken story with the content of its own analysis. Western modernity developed the sleight of hand in all of its forms of ethnological, psychiatric and pedagogical exegesis as if it were necessary to write in the place where “that” speaks. Savage voices and voices of the people, mad voices and infantile voices define the places where it becomes possible and necessary to write. Voices furnish the hermeneutic with its condition of production, that is, with the sites it occupies where it converts them to text. In face of the glossolalic chain, the hermeneutic work mobilizes its scientific apparatus. But in so doing, it unveils the belief that animates it. Whereas glossolalia postulates that somewhere there is speech, interpretation supposes that somewhere there must be meaning. Interpretation searches for meaning, and it finds it because it expects it to be there, because interpretation relies on the conviction that especially where meaning appears to be absent, it is hidden someplace, present “all the same” thus, the hermeneutic pursues its object most obstinately in those non-sense places where it postulates “secret languages.”
Michel De Certeau Vocal Utopias: Glossolalias
It seems that the “illegible” must have a twin; but I have no common (or uncommon) word for signfying that which cannot be written upon. It is as if the idea of something as unreceptive to inscription was beyond thought, or as if the idea of being a something - at all- is predicated on its hospitality to our writing.
It is, at first, strange that the idea of a thing that cannot be read has its part in language, but that which cannot be written on is denied the name. But it is exactly this quality that bans it.