Silly notions. Speech is music. Music is live.

by waxbanks

The following propositions are dubious at best. I had coffee this morning which I’m not used to, I’m a tea drinker, coffee makes my ideas jittery. I don’t believe what I’m saying and neither should anyone else, ever. –wa.

Of course speech is elaborated birdsong — but we evolved to duet not monologue. Writing potentially purifies the lone melodism of an individual’s speech but cuts us off from our discursive (social-cognitive) apparatus for mutual regulation/revision. This language of course ties us back to love (per the General Theory): music (Art more generally you might say) is one of the mechanisms by which we conduct the intersubjective limbic business of love, at a distance. Writing, not so much. Music intensifies the effects of speech among its other effects, that’s why we set the lyrics we need to remember to melodies, but music is meant to be heard. Writing’s proximity to music is actually undercut by the fact that by definition, the only writing we ‘hear’ is recorded. Lifting writing out of time strips it of certain intersubjective aspects — i.e. mediates the exchange, at some cost.

Music is live. It’s an event, an exchange.

Recorded music is its own peculiar thing.

All of which is to say that writing suffers when it’s divorced from its origins in musical duet, i.e. in live discourse. Writing doesn’t simulate speech, it simulates the musical cognition which occurs in speech — but it strips out the musical cognition that we engage in as we listen and respond. Yes, there’s an element of ‘response’ in writing, e.g. to our impulses and what we realize(!) about the images in our head. But we’re at our best, as improvisers and composers (insofar as those are different), when we’re collaborating and connecting and responding. We are incomplete. Writers work to overcome that incompleteness but it’s always a simulation — dragging behind speech, not behind monologue but rather dialogue. The coupling that completes us.

Writers need people. That’s all I’m saying really.

(Derrida’s ‘critique’ of ‘phonocentrism’ is mostly bullshit and can be left aside — we take an evolutionary view of human speech as a rich variant of birdsong and see no point in his stupid ahistorical ‘primacy of writing’ thing even as a dialectical provision.)

(I’m not sure I buy any of this except the opening sentences and the pissing-on-Derrida.)