Expression or Echo?

Expression or Echo? March 29, 2014

Voice has often been seen as expression, as the coming into public space of something within. Given its reliance on breath, it was easy to conclude that voice is the expression of the soul.

According to Ree (I See A Voice), it was Herder who broke through this illusion bt arguing that voice doesn’t move from in to out but relays and echoes within social space: “Herder heard a movement from speaker to speaker, from voice to voice. . .  .Herder had become to conceive the virtue of the human voice in terms of repetition” (68). 

A repetition is not a copy; repetition is with difference, infinite in variation. “Speech by its nature can be repeated, whereas voices can only be imitated” (68). Herder discerned that “it is only when the voice has become a faculty of repetition as distinct from imitation that it is capable of language or speech. Repetition is the element in which language lives: a speaking voice is always intrinsically an infinitely redoubled echo” (69).

Ree pushes Herder’s insight, suggesting that “folk metaphysics” takes a self-centered, narcissistic turn when it fails to see “that the speaking voice is an instrument of repetition rather than expression.” Self-centered philosophies come to those “who do not realize that the human soul is not so much narcissistic, as ethoic” (71).


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