UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Diva-dogs : sounding women improvising Smith, Julie Dawn 2001

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-ubc_2001-715388.pdf [ 11.9MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0076916.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0076916-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0076916-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0076916-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0076916-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0076916-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0076916-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0076916-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0076916.ris

Full Text

DIVA-DOGS: SOUNDING W O M E N IMPROVISING by JULIE D A W N SMITH B.A. S p e c i a l i z e d H o n o u r s M u s i c , York University, 1981 D i p l o m a J a z z Studies, H u m b e r C o l l e g e , 1990 M.A. Interdisciplinary Arts, C o l u m b i a C o l l e g e , 1992 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (INDIVIDUAL I N T E R D I S C I P L I N A R Y S T U D I E S G R A D U A T E P R O G R A M ) W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H E U N ^ ^ S f T Y O F BRIJTISH C O L U M B I A ^  J u n e 2001 © Julie D a w n Smith, 2001  In presenting this thesis i n p a r t i a l fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t freely available for reference and study- I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of The University of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver, Canada  Abstract  A s a n exploration of s o u n d a n d improvisation in relation to corporeality, subjectivity a n d culture Diva-dogs:  Sounding  Women Improvising  contests the v i s u a l bias of  representation. T h i s interdisciplinary investigation of w o m e n improvisers e n g a g e s a s o m e w h a t unorthodox a n d improvisational methodology that a p p r o a c h e s theory a s a gathering together of disparate disciplinary fragments to c r e a t e a k a l e i d o s c o p i c a n d intertextual polyphony. S o u n d writes upon the exterior s u r f a c e s a n d interior s u b s t a n c e s of the body with a n invisible ink that l e a v e s its mark a s it e v a p o r a t e s a n d d i s a p p e a r s . T h e invisible p r e s e n c e of s o u n d c o m p l i c a t e s the visual b a s i s of intelligibility to u n d e r s c o r e the corporeal a s a n improvisational p r o c e s s of s o u n d i n g , audition, (re)writing a n d transformation. S o n i c p o l y v a l e n c e defies singularity, unity a n d identity calling us to rethink matter, body, text, sexuality a n d subjectivity entirely. S o u n d p r o b l e m a t i z e s representation by confounding the b o u n d a r i e s of interior a n d exterior s p a c e a n d a s s u c h b e c o m e s abject, a n a m b i g u o u s disturbance of s y m b o l i c order a n d s o m a t i c signification. W o m a n is m a r k e d a s s o n i c difference in the s y m b o l i c , a mark that positions her s e x e d , r a c e d a n d c l a s s e d body precariously in relation to l a n g u a g e a n d m e a n i n g . In the practice of free improvisation w o m e n play with the s o u n d s , linguistic e x c e s s e s a n d abject n o i s e s of difference that hover at the border of representation, harmony, l a n g u a g e a n d m u s i c to perform a s o n i c a n d c o r p o r e a l voicing of w o m e n ' s subjectivity. T o be " w o m a n " is to be e n g a g e d in a constant state of improvisation.  Abstract  ii  Acknowledgements  v  Dedication  vii  INTRODUCTION  W o m a n in a C o n s t a n t State of Improvisation  CHAPTER 1  A Riant S p a c i o u s n e s s : S o u n d Matters  29  CHAPTER 2  M u s i c is a S c r u b w o m a n : T h e S o n i c Abject  72  CHAPTER 3  P l a y i n g Like a Girl: T h e Q u e e r Laughter of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p  CHAPTER 4  1  107  N o i s e About Nothing: Hysteria a n d the C r y a s S o n i c P a t h o l o g y a n d Protest  141  CHAPTER 5  P e r v e r s e Hysterics: T h e S t r a n g e Cri of L e s D i a b o l i q u e s  179  CONCLUSION  T h e o r y in a C o n s t a n t State of Improvisation  215  iii  Bibliography Appendix 1  2  Interview E x c e r p t s  •  2  2  0  33  1:1 L i n d s a y C o o p e r  233  1:2 J o e l l e L e a n d r e  238  1:3 L e s Diaboliques  243  1:4 M a g g i e Nicols  251  1:5 M a g g i e Nicols (Telephone)  ....259  1:6 A n n e m a r i e R o e l o f s  263  1:7 Irene S c h w e i z e r  270  Appendix 2  Selected Discography  275  Appendix 3  Audio and Video Excerpts 3:1 T h e Feminist Improvising G r o u p A u d i o c a s s e t t e 3:2 L e s Diaboliques V i d e o c a s s e t t e  iv  Acknowledgements  M y interest in the lives, struggles a n d artistic practices of w o m e n m u s i c i a n s probably b e g a n in utero w h e n my mother's p a s s i o n for m u s i c w a s transmitted to me. M u s i c h a s b e e n the s o u r c e of great pleasure a n d great pain in my life—but a l w a y s a n ever-present f o c u s . T h i s project b e a r s traces of the s o n i c a n d rhythmic textures of my life's m u s i c a l journey. I w a s extremely fortunate to c o n v i n c e s u c h a stellar group of s c h o l a r s to be part of my doctoral committee at the University of British C o l u m b i a — S n e j a G u n e w (supervisor), K e v i n M c N e i l l y , David M e t z e r a n d B e c k i R o s s — w h o , with their g e n e r o u s support a n d expertise, propelled my a c a d e m i c explorations farther than I c o u l d have i m a g i n e d . I a l s o w i s h to thank the staff, faculty a n d students of I I S G P h e a d e d by chair Rhodri W i n d s o r - L i s c o m b e , W e s P u e (acting chair 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 ) a n d administrator L e a h Postman. I cannot e v e n begin to thank the w o m e n improvisers w h o w e r e the inspiration for this project a n d w h o s o willingly participated—Lindsay C o o p e r , J o e l l e L e a n d r e , M a g g i e Nicols, A n n e m a r i e R o e l o f s , Irene S c h w e i z e r — m y respect for your artistry a n d my f o n d n e s s for e a c h of y o u is eternal. T h a n k s a l s o to E u g e n e C h a d b o u r n e for consenting to be interviewed. K u d o s to K e n P i c k e r i n g artistic director, a n d R o b e r t K e r r executive director, of C o a s t a l J a z z a n d B l u e s S o c i e t y for bringing L e s D i a b o l i q u e s to V a n c o u v e r , a n d for their willingness to support w o m e n players. T h a n k s to K e n for sharing his vast k n o w l e d g e of m u s i c with all of us over the y e a r s . I a m grateful to C h r i s F e d i n a , J i m C o v e r d a l e , L y n n Buhler, N o u D a d o u n a n d S a r a h Ballantyne for their e n t h u s i a s m for, a n d commitment to, improvised m u s i c a n d for making sure w e "did" b r u n c h . T h a n k s to  v  all the folks at the J a z z Festival, especially R a i n b o w Robert a n d Jennifer W y s s w h o provided technical support, a n d G r e g Fruno, T h o m a s J o n e s a n d Matthijus v a n D a a l for the laugh track. R o n G a s k i n , Patrick Darby a n d Dolores B r a c h facilitated L e s Diaboliques' C a n a d i a n tour. T h a n k s to videographer M a r l e n e M a d i s o n for her g o o d e y e a n d willingness to help. M y e x t e n d e d family h a s supported m e emotionally a n d financially throughout my transitory life, a n d this I know, h a s b e e n no e a s y task. Hats off to Jannifer, L e x i e & lan S m i t h - R u b e n z a h l , D o n Smith & J a c k i e v a n Vugt, C l a r a H e n d e r s o n , L e s & Lila Kerr, and J e a n Kerr for being there. T o the friends I've met mostly through m u s i c : Bill S m i t h , S h e i l a M a c p h e r s o n , Trimpin, C h e r y l , E d d i e Prevost, J e a n P r e v o s t , V a l Wilmer, D a n n a E p h l a n d , J o h n E p h l a n d , Philip C a l d w e l l , S t e p h e n H u d e c k i , D e n i s e O a k i e , D a n Ouellette, Murray Krantz, P e t e Farrell, C a t e P o y n t o n , T a d a h i k o Imada, D B B o y k o , E d Oleksiuk. T h a n k s to M a g g i e ' s m u m for tea. I a m grateful to Dr. Larry C h a n , D a w n C a r p e n t e r a n d M a r y T r o k e n b e r g for keeping m e together—body, mind a n d s o u l . T o the " w o m e n of the new j a z z " — S u s a n G o o d i n g , Marguerite H o r b e r g , L a u r e n Deutsch—I m i s s y o u all! Of c o u r s e none of this would have b e e n p o s s i b l e without my partner Robert Kerr, w h o helped in any a n d every w a y he c o u l d , a n d w h o continues to provide a solid backbeat. Schwing with me Robert.  vi  T o S t e l l a , A l i c e , Jannifer a n d Lexie. T h e past, present a n d future that sustains m e .  vii  Introduction Woman in a Constant State of Improvisation  U n l e s s s h e improvises, her o w n p e r f o r m a n c e is a l w a y s already scripted —Richard Leppeif  W h e n I sat d o w n to interview improvising b a s s i s t J o e l l e L e a n d r e , the c o n v e r s a t i o n b e g a n a s s h e p o s e d the first question, tongue-in-cheek: "Did y o u prepare everything, all of y o u r q u e s t i o n s ? " I replied with playful indignation: "Of c o u r s e ! " a n d s h e r e s p o n d e d : "I don't know, m a y b e it's a pure improvisation!" A l t h o u g h L e a n d r e ' s c o m m e n t w a s meant s o m e w h a t facetiously, her intuition w a s right—my methodology a n d m y interview "style" w e r e improvisational. In fact this entire project h a s b e e n a n improvisation. O n the surface this statement s e e m s like a c o n f e s s i o n , tantamount to a n a d m i s s i o n of i n c o m p e t e n c e . Isn't improvisation merely a blind groping for something concrete to h a n g on to, a contingency plan that m u d d l e s through until s o m e t h i n g finally takes s h a p e a n d b e c o m e s a text? H o w c a n I admit to this lack of preparation, k n o w l e d g e a n d integrity, e s p e c i a l l y within the a c a d e m y ? Indeed, w e s t e r n culture has positioned improvisation a s l a c k — l a c k of form, lack of intention, lack of discipline, lack of authority—an inferior a n d deficient practice that s h o u l d be v i e w e d with s k e p t i c i s m . D e r e k Bailey a g r e e s that the s u s p i c i o n surrounding improvisation exists b e c a u s e it s e e m s to be "something without preparation a n d without consideration, a completely a d h o c activity, frivolous a n d i n c o n s e q u e n t i a l , lacking in d e s i g n a n d m e t h o d " (xii). Improvisation is k a l e i d o s c o p i c a n d unpredictable, a n d it is precisely t h e s e qualitites that present s e v e r a l c h a l l e n g e s to representation. T o begin with, improvisation  1  disrupts our spatial, theoretical a n d methodological orientation b e c a u s e it questions the authority of notation, the parameters of s p e c i a l i z e d t e c h n i q u e a n d the p o w e r invested in m u s i c a l formalism. Similarly, a n y attempts to represent improvisation, whether through the d e v e l o p m e n t of a theory or a method of transcription, will a l w a y s be a misrepresentation. A s D e r e k Bailey e x p l a i n s , the a c a d e m i c impetus to define a n d confine improvisation to either theory or transcription is merely a distraction that "far from being a n aid to understanding improvisation, deflects attention towards peripheral considerations" (xi). W o r k i n g apart from the surveillance of the s c o r e m e a n s that improvisation a c q u i r e s a certain fluidity, a n ability to r e s o n a t e with the vibrations of body, s o u n d a n d gesture. Finally, improvising with s o u n d r a i s e s d e e p e r i s s u e s c o n c e r n i n g w e s t e r n culture's d e p e n d e n c e on the visual a n d its a s s u m p t i o n of w h o l e n e s s , questioning the notion that the recognition of our intact i m a g e is the singular defining m o m e n t of subjectivity.  Improvising T h e o r y C a n s o n i c improvisation resonate w h e r e theory a n d representation are c o n c e r n e d ? T h i s question cannot be a d d r e s s e d sufficiently without a n examination of the historical, political a n d p s y c h o l o g i c a l ramifications of improvisation. A l a n Durant provides s o m e insight from all three p e r s p e c t i v e s w h e n he s u g g e s t s that improvisation questions the w a y s in w h i c h m u s i c m a k i n g is p r o d u c e d , distributed a n d c o n s u m e d . A c c o r d i n g to Durant improvisation looks b e y o n d the finished product to c o n s i d e r the p r o c e s s p l a y e d out from moment to moment, stretching past formal c o n c e r n s a n d codified p r o c e d u r e s . It highlights the p r o c e s s through w h i c h the text c o m e s into b e i n g , challenging the notion that the text is fixed, static a n d unalterable. Improvisation  2  e n d l e s s l y reinvents the text, marking textuality a s a n effect of p r o c e s s rather than a s a finished product.  2  With this in mind Durant briefly traces the history of improvisation in western m u s i c , s u g g e s t i n g that although it has b e e n widely practiced for centuries improvisation h a s no official history (259). H e further a r g u e s that t h e s e o m i s s i o n s are d u e in part to e c o n o m i c , political a n d aesthetic shifts, particularly in nineteenth-century m u s i c , that h a v e codified the division between high a n d low art a n d c h a n g e d the function of the artist in society to reflect the increasing isolation of the c o m p o s e r from earlier social rituals: the participatory possibilities invited by earlier concert forms are d i s p l a c e d by individual c o m p o s i t i o n s w h o s e c o n c e r n is less to act a s a spring-board to creative performance by the m u s i c i a n s playing o n a n y particular o c c a s i o n than to record individual insights a l r e a d y a c h i e v e d by the c o m p o s e r . (260) T h e decline of improvisation in western art m u s i c c o i n c i d e d with i n c r e a s e d commodification, e v i d e n c e d in the l a r g e - s c a l e o r c h e s t r a s of the nineteenth-century that performed in the institutionalized s p a c e of the concert hall, a s well a s in the rise of the c o m p o s e r to the status of "genius." J a c q u e s Attali similarly s u g g e s t s that the distancing of artistic activity from the e v e r y d a y marks the moment w h e n m u s i c entered representation through capitalism to b e c o m e s p e c t a c l e : "[t]he artist w a s born, at the s a m e time his work went on s a l e " (47). In relation to improvisation this meant that e x t e m p o r a n e o u s m u s i c m a k i n g h a d no u s e value in the c o m m o d i f i e d climate Attali calls " e x c h a n g e . " M a r g i n a l i z e d a n d p o w e r l e s s , improvisation a s a s p o n t a n e o u s s o c i a l activity finds itself exiled from b o u r g e o i s society.  3  E x i l e d but not annihilated, a s Durant s u g g e s t s . Twentieth-century practices attest to the continuing p e r v a s i v e n e s s of improvisation extant in both w e s t e r n a n d n o n w e s t e r n m u s i c . A l t h o u g h the history of improvisation is scant, its current m e t h o d s are varied, wide-ranging a n d ubiquitous. Improvisation is a n integral c o m p o n e n t of s u c h d i v e r s e practices a s aleatory or c h a n c e m u s i c , graphic notation, v e r n a c u l a r forms of folk, rock a n d world m u s i c traditions, all permutations of j a z z a s well a s the idiosyncratic practice of free improvisation that is the specific f o c u s of this project. F o r Durant a s for Attali, improvisation's location at the e d g e of representation a n d theory m a r k s it a s a political force. B y challenging the authority of the text, improvisation disrupts the expectations of codified m u s i c w h i c h in turn disrupts e s t a b l i s h e d m u s i c a l rhetorics. E m b e d d e d in the aesthetic disruption g e n e r a t e d by improvisation are questions c o n c e r n i n g how m u s i c functions in society, e s p e c i a l l y in relation to power. A s Durant s u g g e s t s , improvisation destabilizes the "dominant p r o c e d u r e s through which m u s i c is m a d e a n d c o n s u m e d , e s p e c i a l l y in challenging e s t a b l i s h e d roles for c o m p o s e r s , m u s i c i a n s a n d a u d i e n c e s " (276). B a i l e y p r o p o s e s that improvisation is i n d e e d the oldest form of m u s i c m a k i n g a n d that all m u s i c is in fact propelled by the "drive to improvise" (ix-x).  Improvising F r e e A s s o c i a t i o n F r o m a p s y c h o a n a l y t i c perspective the "drive to improvise" points to the role of the u n c o n s c i o u s in improvisational practices. Durant m a k e s a c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n improvisation a n d the a n a l y s a n d ' s d i s c o u r s e in p s y c h o a n a l y s i s , alluding to the possibility that improvisation finds its alter e g o in the p s y c h o a n a l y t i c technique known a s free a s s o c i a t i o n . In The Sense and Non-Sense  4  of Revolt, J u l i a K r i s t e v a explains that  free a s s o c i a t i o n is b a s e d upon the narration of a patient's stories, a n e x t e m p o r a n e o u s telling that affects both thought a n d perception, b o d y a n d m i n d . It is a "fantasmatic narrative," a mythic blending of c o n s c i o u s a n d u n c o n s c i o u s e l e m e n t s that p r o d u c e s a third c o m p o n e n t , a n ontology Kristeva calls signifiance. T h i s is a s p a c e of p s y c h i c e x c e s s , a " p r o c e s s , d y n a m i c a n d m o v e m e n t of m e a n i n g , not r e d u c e d to l a n g u a g e but e n c o m p a s s i n g it" (37). It is the play of o p p o s i n g drives, the struggle of life a n d death, the c a p a c i t y of a s p e a k i n g being to signify: " a horizon of being outside the p s y c h i c a l w h e r e h u m a n subjectivity is inscribed without being r e d u c e d , w h e r e p s y c h i c a l life is e x c e e d e d by signifiance" (59). In other w o r d s free a s s o c i a t i o n is a s p a c e of revolution. Revolt, K r i s t e v a explains, is " a constant calling into question of the p s y c h e a n d the world," a p r o c e s s integral to the psychoanalytic a n d literary e x p e r i e n c e that arguably exists in the e x p e r i e n c e of free improvisation (19). W e c a n think of improvisation a s a s o n i c telling, a free a s s o c i a t i o n that s o u n d s the d y n a m i c unfolding of u n c o n s c i o u s a n d c o n s c i o u s p r o c e s s e s , a n e x p r e s s i o n of signifiance. T h e creative text a l o n g with the a n a l y s a n d ' s narrative are, in Kristeva's w o r d s , "animated by a d e s i r e to overturn the world, oneself, the Other, love a n d d e a t h " (51). In this w a y the improviser, like the writer a n d the a n a l y s a n d , dwells in a strange a n d mobile s p a c e , inhabiting the liminality a n d paradox of the "prior future" that is the stuff of free a s s o c i a t i o n . Improvisation a s a narrative p r o c e s s is not driven merely by exact repetition, a redundant reiteration of the s a m e old story, but instead e n a c t s a rupture: " a question, a s u b - v e r s i o n , a re-volt in the etymological s e n s e of the word (a return toward the invisible, a refusal a n d displacement)" (10). T h i s "plural decentering" that K r i s t e v a d e s c r i b e s reconfigures the subject a n d the p r o c e s s of subjectivity, a s well a s the interrelation of self to other. It is a  5  s p a c e of risk a n d e x c e s s , a s p a c e of creativity. F r e e improvisation is nothing more a n d nothing l e s s than a revolution of, in, a n d through, s o u n d .  Improvising Interpretation In respect to the interpreter of free a s s o c i a t i o n — t h a t is, the analyst, the literary critic a n d the l i s t e n e r — K r i s t e v a s u g g e s t s that the reception of a n i m p r o v i s e d narrative must be a p p r o a c h e d with " a certain o p e n n e s s in o n e ' s o w n p s y c h i c a l a p p a r a t u s , a flexibility that ultimately represents a n aptitude for revolt" (51). T h e listener too is d e c e n t e r e d a n d c e a s e s to interpret from the position of "normative truth." Following H e l e n D e u t s c h , K r i s t e v a p r o p o s e s that the interpreter s h o u l d position him/herself a s a n "eternal a d o l e s c e n t , " a revolutionary listener: "This m a y s o u n d o d d , b e c a u s e w e know that the eternal a d o l e s c e n t is immature a n d capriciously fragile, m o v i n g from d e p r e s s i o n to hysteria, from a m o r o u s infatuation to disappointment." Y e t s h e o b s e r v e s that with this volatility c o m e s " a certain s u p p l e n e s s of a g e n c i e s , a n adaptability, a c a p a c i t y to modify oneself a c c o r d i n g to the environment a n d the other, a s well a s a g a i n s t t h e m " (51). A brief d i g r e s s i o n is in order h e r e . It is important to note that revolutionary, d e c e n t e r e d listening is e s p e c i a l l y pertinent to the m u s i c critic w h o a p p r o a c h e s the improvised p e r f o r m a n c e from the position of paternalism, a judgmental father figure w h o v a l u e s the s o u n d of his o w n diagnostic v o i c e over that of the creative artist. In this s c e n a r i o the improviser b e c o m e s the patient, the improvisation the s y m p t o m a n d the critic the o n e w h o p r e s c r i b e s the c u r e . C o m p o s e r / i m p r o v i s e r A n t h o n y Braxton c o m m e n t s extensively in his Tri-axium  Writings on the p r o b l e m s inherent in this kind of  "deaf listening," arguing that a paternalistic attitude is part a n d p a r c e l of the white critical r e s p o n s e to j a z z , a r e s p o n s e b a s e d in a racist attitude toward A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n  6  m u s i c i a n s that primitivizes a n d exoticizes them (Lock 173-184). A n a l o g o u s effects of s e x i s m c a n be found in critical r e s p o n s e s to w o m e n improvisers, a n observation that is taken up a n d elucidated in C h a p t e r three. T h e i m a g e of the critic a s eternal a d o l e s c e n t K r i s t e v a is offering here is a n alternative description of the listener/interpreter of i m p r o v i s e d m u s i c w h o is willing to take the risk of d i s p l a c e d listening that (un)authorizes him/herself. I u s e the term risk b e c a u s e the d e c e n t e r e d listener e m b a r k s on a journey for w h i c h s / h e h a s no m a p or c o m p a s s , pouring him/herself into the contours of the s o u n d s a n d g e s t u r e s of the p e r f o r m a n c e , allowing for detours into unfamiliar territory a n d p o s s i b l e e n c o u n t e r s with the u n k n o w n . T h i s kind of revolutionary listening is the b a s i s of a critical s t a n c e that locates itself strategically off-centre, a n ability to hear b e y o n d the r e a d y - m a d e judgement of fixed a n d immobile m u s i c a l "truths." T h i s is a position of criticism a n d a n a l y s i s that is fluid, receptive a n d w i s e . " T h e n a n d only then," K r i s t e v a writes, will texts a p p e a r not a s fetishes or d e a d objects c o r r e s p o n d i n g to definite states of history or rhetoric but a s s o m a n y e x p e r i e n c e s of p s y c h i c a l survival o n the part of those w h o h a v e e n g a g e d in the struggle a n d o n our part a s well. (51) In the c o u r s e of p e r f o r m a n c e the f e e d b a c k , r e s p o n s e s a n d interpretations of listeners are a n integral part of the d y n a m i c of free a s s o c i a t i o n , occurring a s improvisations at the moment of improvisation (62). Unlike a n a l y s i s or reading, h o w e v e r , the simultaneity of creation/interpretation that t a k e s p l a c e in the improvisatory s p a c e constructs a polyphonic antiphony, a s multiple listeners in a multiplicity of listening p o s i t i o n s — o n the stage a s well a s in the a u d i e n c e — e n g a g e with/in individual a s well a s collective levels of stratified listening. F r o m moment to moment layers of listening are a d d e d to layers of  7  s o u n d i n g to create intertextual journeys that run parallel to o n e other, circumnavigate e a c h other, collide a n d d i s p e r s e : T h e r e is a piling up of o t h e r n e s s : the a d d r e s s e e is a n other-being; "I" is a n other-being; t h e s e others are altered by contemplating e a c h other. F a r from being a b s o l u t i z e d a s the summit of a pyramid from w h i c h the other g a z e s at m e with a n i m p l a c a b l e a n d s e v e r e e y e , the problematic of p s y c h o a n a l y t i c a l alterity o p e n s a s p a c e of interlocking alterities. O n l y this interlocking of alterities c a n give subjectivity a n infinite d i m e n s i o n , a d i m e n s i o n of creativity. (Kristeva 67) Improvisation g e n e r a t e s this creative d i m e n s i o n through s o u n d : a b o u n d l e s s e n g a g e m e n t with our o w n revolutions a n d the revolutions of the other.  W o m a n : F r o m N o u n to V e r b Nathaniel M a c k e y d e s c r i b e s this kind of creative reconfiguration of alterities in the term "artistic othering." In Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance,  Cross-Culturality  and Experimental Writing, he explains that "[ajrtistic othering h a s to d o with innovation, invention a n d c h a n g e , upon w h i c h cultural health a n d diversity d e p e n d a n d thrive." M a c k e y distinguishes b e t w e e n the productive p r o c e s s of artistic othering a n d the stultifying effect of " s o c i a l othering" w h i c h , in contrast, " h a s to d o with power, e x c l u s i o n , a n d privilege, the centralizing of a norm against w h i c h o t h e r n e s s is m e a s u r e d , meted out, m a r g i n a l i z e d " (265). H e d e s c r i b e s the difference by using the v e r b / n o u n distinction, citing the m o v e m e n t from verb to noun a s a m o v e a w a y from a g e n c y toward stasis a n d noun to verb a s a reversal of stasis toward active a g e n c y .  8  M a c k e y t a k e s his c u e from poet a n d cultural theorist Amiri B a r a k a , w h o e m p l o y s the v e r b / n o u n distinction to d e s c r i b e the effects of white appropriation on the inventiveness of black culture. Positioning the other a s noun i m m o b i l i z e s , e r a s e s a n d objectifies o t h e r n e s s in a m o v e that, a c c o r d i n g to M a c k e y , h y p o s t a s i z e s c h a n g e . B a r a k a identifies this sort of h y p o s t a s i s in the appropriation of b l a c k s w i n g m u s i c by white big b a n d s in the 1 9 2 0 s a n d 1 9 3 0 s . H e r e white commodification b e c o m e s the noun that " o b s c u r e s or " d i s a p p e a r s " the "verb" it rips off, black a g e n c y , black authority, black invention" (266). M a c k e y explains this d i s a p p e a r i n g act: F r o m verb to noun m e a n s , on the aesthetic level, a l e s s d y n a m i c , less improvisatory, l e s s blues-inflected m u s i c a n d , o n the political level, a containment of black mobility, a containment of the e c o n o m i c a n d social a d v a n c e s that might a c c r u e to black artistic innovation. (266) Artistically, politically, socially a n d philosophically, then, the n o u n p a r a l y z e s the verb, subjects it to s t a s i s a n d regulates its s o u n d . Artistic othering, o n the other h a n d , r e v e r s e s the s t a s i s of the n o u n to reconfigure a g e n c y in the rhythm of the verb. T h e strategy that reinvents the other by transforming other-ing into a g e n c y constructs a n other that is active a n d m a r k s othering a s a critical reflection a n d a revolutionary practice: "[sjuch othering practices implicitly react against a n d reflect critically upon the different sort of other to w h i c h their practitioners, d e n i e d a g e n c y in a society by w h i c h they are d e s i g n a t e d other, h a v e b e e n s u b j e c t e d " (267). T h e p r o c e s s of transforming a thing, object or other into a verb requires the kind of "action, d y n a m i s m a n d kinetics" M a c k e y finds in black v e r n a c u l a r culture (267). T h i s is a n improvisational strategy e m b e d d e d in the aesthetic mobility of black culture p l a y e d  9  out in l a n g u a g e , stories, s o n g a n d laughter: the free a s s o c i a t i o n that transforms noun to verb " m a k i n g a w a y out of no-way" (268). Improvising o n M a c k e y ' s riff "from noun to verb," I take up in this project the view that phallogocentrism performs a s o c i a l othering of w o m a n . P h a l l o g o c e n t r i s m is a static 3  positioning that p a r a l y z e s the active a g e n c y of w o m a n a s v e r b , a network of power relations that e n d e a v o r s to turn her into a s o c i a l other a n d h y p o s t a s i z e her a s n o u n . Implicated in the "nounization" of w o m a n are the institutions of patriarchy, c o m p u l s o r y heterosexuality, the s y m b o l i c , the law of the father a n d l a n g u a g e , e x p r e s s i o n s of the m e t a - p e r v a s i v e p o w e r of phallogocentrism. T h e s e institutions, m e t a - l a n g u a g e s a n d power centers create oppositional hierarchies of what c o u l d a l s o be termed noun/verb p a i r i n g s — m a s c u l i n e / f e m i n i n e , mind/body, m a n / w o m a n , n o r m a l / a b n o r m a l , form/content a n d s o on—that negate the right side of the binary. T h u s w h e n K r i s t e v a s u g g e s t s that signifiance  e n c o m p a s s e s "narrative, drives, s e n s a t i o n s , acts, the feminine in b e i n g " s h e  is reactivating s o u n d , the body, the u n c o n s c i o u s , rhythmic motility a n d the feminine a s v e r b s , infusing t h e m b a c k into the stasis of phallogocentrism in order to disrupt, decenter a n d d i s p l a c e it (Kristeva 64).  D i v a - d o g s : S o u n d i n g W o m e n Improvising Diva-dogs:  Sounding  Women Improvising  is a n attempt to articulate a feminist  theory of s o u n d a n d improvisation that r e c o g n i z e s the itinerant quality of t h e s e p h e n o m e n a a n d i m a g i n e s how this motility might alter the notions of methodology a n d r e s e a r c h . T h i s project d r a w s from theoretical a n d practical implications of interviews c o n d u c t e d with w o m e n improvisers using improvisation a s m e t h o d o l o g y a n d methodology a s improvisation. A s J a n e t W o l f e states, "[t]he i d e a of a d e t a c h e d ,  10  impartial, controlling interviewer, w h o s e o w n v i e w s a n d v a l u e s are kept out of the dialogue, is o n e w h i c h is u n a c c e p t a b l e for feminist r e s e a r c h " (75). With this standard in mind, interviews w e r e unscripted, in a n effort to establish a non-hierarchical relationship with the interviewees a n d to respect the e x p e r i e n c e s , beliefs a n d identifications of e a c h interview subject. A s interviewer I w a s a b l e to draw from my o w n e x p e r i e n c e a s a w o m a n a n d a s a performer, a s well a s from my m u s i c a l training (for g o o d a n d bad), my expertise a s a producer a n d my e n g a g e m e n t with free improvisation. A l t h o u g h this project w a s not a n ethnography  perse, the term "participant-  o b s e r v e r " took o n a different m e a n i n g a s I found myself " h a n g i n g out" with the w o m e n I interviewed—in c l u b s , bars, restaurants, hotels, p l a n e s a n d airports—the all-too-familiar s p a c e s travelling m u s i c i a n s inhabit. T h e notion of "hanging out" a d d s a methodological twist to this work, b e c o m i n g another improvisational tactic for r e s e a r c h . In reaction to the stories the w o m e n s h a r e d with m e , I r e s p o n d e d with stories of my o w n , a s well a s helping to carry l u g g a g e , negotiate s c h e d u l e s , attend to details of travel, meet family m e m b e r s , walk, s h o p a n d laugh. T h e tenor a n d direction of our c o n v e r s a t i o n s inspired m e to revisit my o w n artistic path, realizing that, while this "first generation" of pioneering w o m e n improvisers w a s breaking n e w g r o u n d for w o m e n performers, I too w a s performing in early feminist work. T h e s e multi-media p e r f o r m a n c e s that investigated w o m e n ' s identity a n d spirituality s p a r k e d my p a s s i o n for the artistic explorations of w o m e n ' s e x p e r i e n c e . Later I a b a n d o n e d c o n v e n t i o n a l m u s i c a l structures a n d b e g a n to explore my o w n instrumental a n d v o c a l improvisations, a m o v e that led m e to a n appreciation of a n d commitment to j a z z , a n d to the inevitable question that h a s p l a g u e d m a n y w o m e n listeners a n d novice improvisers: where are the w o m e n i m p r o v i s e r s ? W h e n I b e g a n to e x p e r i e n c e intense 4  11  physical p a i n — d u e to o v e r u s e s y n d r o m e — t h a t rendered m e u n a b l e to continue playing wind instruments, I q u e s t i o n e d authorized attitudes to a n d relationships b e t w e e n m u s i c a n d w o m e n ' s b o d i e s , eventually a b a n d o n i n g technique for anti-virtuosity a n d discarding authorized instruments for invented instruments of my o w n m a k i n g . T h i s artistic m o v e 5  o p e n e d up the possibilities of s o u n d to m e , provoking my interest in t r a n s g r e s s i n g the b o u n d a r i e s of authorized s o u n d i n g , a n d inspiring m e to s e e k out the work of those w h o s h a r e d my irreverent attitude toward the w a y s in w h i c h m u s i c i a n s , improvisers a n d artists are e x p e c t e d to s o u n d a n d b e h a v e . M y e x p e r i e n c e s h a v e inevitably influenced the interpretation of the stories t h e s e w o m e n told to m e ; thus m y o w n v o i c e is included in the multilayered r e s o n a n c e that e c h o e d during the interview transcription p r o c e s s . T h e resulting work is a narrative informed by the polyphonic v o i c e s that construct my composite memories. A l t h o u g h my intention w a s to promote w o m e n improvisers by interviewing them, writing about t h e m , presenting t h e m a n d e n c o u r a g i n g others to present t h e m , I could not, a s S u z a n n e de C a s t e l l a n d M a r y B r y s o n point out, e x p e c t to e n g a g e in this project a s a n ethnographer "proper." B r y s o n a n d de C a s t e l l e m p h a s i z e that it is crucial to d i s c l o s e w h o the ethnographer is a n d what position s/he o c c u p i e s in order to dispel "ethnography's most troubling c l a i m s : the professional outsider's a c c e s s to reality: the 'fly o n the wall' p a r a d i g m of neutrality in the observational field" (104). I c o u l d not automatically expect to m o v e freely through the artistic a n d s o c i a l s p a c e s my interview subjects inhabited or h a v e unlimited a c c e s s to their r e s o u r c e s . Y e t neither w e r e my interview subjects "proper" ethnographic informants. T h e y are artists w h o s p e a k self6  c o n s c i o u s l y about the aesthetic p r o c e s s a n d about their work.  12  It is important to note at this juncture that for the past twelve y e a r s I h a v e b e e n involved in producing a n d presenting m u s i c a l p e r f o r m a n c e s , generally through the a u s p i c e s of non-profit organizations, alternative p e r f o r m a n c e s p a c e s , festivals a n d educational institutions. M y former positions a s executive director of the J a z z Institute of C h i c a g o a n d c o - p r o d u c e r of the W o m e n of the N e w J a z z Festival a n d my current tenure a s assistant producer of the du Maurier International J a z z Festival V a n c o u v e r h a v e given m e professional a c c e s s to the m u s i c industry—albeit within its more marginal, often invisible a n d d i s a v o w e d s p a c e s — a s well a s to artists that I might not otherwise h a v e h a d a s a n aficionado. Not only did this "inside" a c c e s s e n a b l e m e to m a k e contact with the w o m e n I interviewed fairly easily, but it a l s o g e n e r a t e d a m o d i c u m of comfort on the part of the m u s i c i a n s d u e to my involvement in a n d familiarity with the " s c e n e . " S i n c e performing artists are frequently interviewed, the w o m e n generally s e e m e d comfortable with the interview p r o c e s s . In fact a recurring t h e m e that s u r f a c e d during a n u m b e r of interviews w a s their frequent e x p e r i e n c e of being p a s s e d - o v e r for both interviews a n d feature articles by male critics. I w a s grateful for t h e s e inroads but c o n c e r n e d that the w o m e n not feel obligated to participate for fear of penalty to their c a r e e r s — t h a t is, that they might not be hired for gigs by the organizations I a m / h a v e b e e n a s s o c i a t e d with. T o c o u n t e r b a l a n c e this possibility I included the following statement in the "informed c o n s e n t " form s i g n e d by e a c h participant: "I understand that my participation in this study is entirely voluntary a n d that I m a y refuse to participate or withdraw from the study at a n y time without jeopardy to my participation in the international j a z z community," e v e n though I thought it p r e s u m p t u o u s of m e to a s s u m e that my influence w a s s o far-reaching. Did I really h a v e the power to influence programming d e c i s i o n s ? P e r h a p s not, but the perception  13  that I might w a s a definite possibility, a n d my s u c c e s s in p e r s u a d i n g the folks at C o a s t a l J a z z a n d B l u e s S o c i e t y to bring L e s D i a b o l i q u e s to V a n c o u v e r s u g g e s t s that I do have at least s o m e influence. T h i s brief examination of my professional status in relation to w o m e n improvisers raises i s s u e s c o n c e r n i n g the political e c o n o m y of free improvisation that affects both improvisers a n d presenters. T o put this d i s c u s s i o n into p e r s p e c t i v e , it is important to r e c o g n i z e that free improvisation is a n art form on the margins of the margins. F r e e improvisation, by d e s i g n a n d by default, is not part of the m o n e y - m a k i n g m a c h i n e that c h a r a c t e r i z e s the m a i n s t r e a m m u s i c industry. Statistics from the du M a u r i e r International J a z z Festival in V a n c o u v e r — a festival that h a s a n international reputation for presenting a greater p e r c e n t a g e of "out" m u s i c than most other c o m p a r a b l e j a z z festivals in North A m e r i c a — d e m o n s t r a t e s this a s s e r t i o n . In 1999 the festival presented 8 0 ticketed s h o w s , 30 of w h i c h featured free improvisers, a n d although this constituted 3 7 % of the total c o n c e r t s p r e s e n t e d it reflects only 4 % of the r e v e n u e from ticket s a l e s . Similarly in 2 0 0 0 the festival presented 7 6 ticketed c o n c e r t s , of w h i c h 3 4 featured free improvisers, reflecting 4 4 % of ticketed c o n c e r t s yet only 3 . 5 % of ticket s a l e s r e v e n u e .  7  F r o m a presenter's point of view this d i s c r e p a n c y m e a n s that the profits from the p e r f o r m a n c e s of " n a m e " artists are at times u s e d to s u b s i d i z e the l e s s lucrative a n d more marginal p e r f o r m a n c e s of free improvisers. Furthermore, in respect to record s a l e s , the Village  Voice reports that throughout the 1990s j a z z r e p r e s e n t e d only 3 % of  all record s a l e s in the United S t a t e s : T h e R e c o r d i n g Industry A s s o c i a t i o n of A m e r i c a , w h i c h g a u g e s the popularity of different categories of m u s i c , h a s c l a s s i c a l a n d j a z z running n e c k a n d neck at the b a c k of the pack, e a c h with about 3 percent of the  14  b u s i n e s s , just a h e a d of oldies a n d N e w A g e . In 1998 j a z z fell to 1.9 percent, two-tenths a h e a d of s o u n d t r a c k s a n d far behind religious at 6.3 percent. ( W o o d w a r d 50) T o m E v e r e d , g e n e r a l M a n a g e r of B l u e Note records, confirms that t h e s e statistics m e a n "[ajny j a z z artist w h o looks at C D s a s a w a y to m a k e m o n e y is b e i n g unrealistic." C D s by y o u n g e r , high profile j a z z artists h a v e a shelf life of approximately eighteen months a n d rarely sell more than 15,000 c o p i e s in the U . S . u n l e s s they are by c r o s s - o v e r artists: It t a k e s nerve for a m e d i a c o n g l o m e r a t e to invest in n e w j a z z today w h e n rap a n d t e e n p o p s e e m to offer m u c h s t e e p e r u p s i d e potential. T h e cost-toreturn ratio for living artists is o n e r e a s o n the m u s i c ' s d e a d h e r o e s are s o prominent. W h y risk 2 5 grand touring a quintet w h o haven't a prayer of airing o n M T V w h e n y o u c a n mine your c a t a l o g u e of M i l e s a n d C o l t r a n e for nothing? ( W o o d w a r d 50) A l t h o u g h free improvisation is often included in the "jazz" category, it is unlikely that C D s by free improvisers are e v e n represented in t h e s e statistics. M a n y free improvisers self-produce their work, for e c o n o m i c a s well a s artistic r e a s o n s , a n d either s e l l them independently or work with independent distributors w h o , judging from the statements a b o v e , f a c e the i m p o s s i b l e task of convincing the major record store c h a i n s to sell their product. T h e e c o n o m i c reality of improvised m u s i c m e a n s , from a monetary, artistic, a n d practical standpoint, that the network of independent record labels, non-profit presenters a n d d e d i c a t e d artists w h o s h a r e a p a s s i o n for improvisation collectively s u b s i d i z e the work in a n u m b e r of w a y s that require the creative a n d strategic d e p l o y m e n t of available  15  r e s o u r c e s . Artists s u b s i d i z e their p a s s i o n for a n d involvement with free improvisation by playing different styles of m u s i c that are more financially lucrative, by s u p p l e m e n t i n g their i n c o m e with grants from government a g e n c i e s a n d by handling their o w n b u s i n e s s affairs without the help of a m a n a g e r — i n c l u d i n g all the details n e c e s s a r y for touring, s u c h a s booking flights, hotels, ground transportation, negotiating contracts a n d f e e s , providing p r e s s material a n d s o o n . In the c o u r s e of our c o n v e r s a t i o n , Irene S c h w e i z e r d e s c r i b e d the difficulties of running her o w n b u s i n e s s : But it is e x h a u s t i n g , the w h o l e thing b e s i d e the m u s i c , what is a r o u n d it. O n c e you're there a n d y o u play, it's actually nothing. But everything that brings y o u to that point—just getting there a n d o r g a n i z i n g . I m e a n , I don't h a v e a m a n a g e r , I d o everything myself. E x c e p t w h e n w e d o a longer tour s o m e t i m e s a n agent a s k s m e if they c a n o r g a n i z e [it], a n d then I s a y of c o u r s e , b e c a u s e I can't d o that. But if it's just a single concert then I just d o it myself. Y o u have to p h o n e , y o u h a v e to s e n d stuff a n d y o u have to o r g a n i z e your travel a n d all that. I a m my o w n office at h o m e . M a g g i e N i c o l s h a s d o c u m e n t e d the frustrating a n d often debilitating p r o c e s s of writing a n d negotiating g o v e r n m e n t grants, in her article "Contradictions." In this short a n d provocative p i e c e , N i c o l s d e s c r i b e s the e x p e r i e n c e of being trapped in a n d by government b u r e a u c r a c y during the granting p r o c e s s . D e s p i t e the group "fulfilling all the requirements, a n s w e r i n g all the queries, a n d meeting all the d e a d l i n e s , " the inability of the granting a g e n c y to give N i c o l s ' group, Contradictions, a n y information c o n c e r n i n g the status of their application c a u s e d emotional, p h y s i c a l a n d financial hardship for e v e r y o n e involved. A s a result they w e r e f o r c e d to s p e n d a n inordinate amount of additional time a n d e n e r g y lobbying the a g e n c y , writing letters a n d following up:  16  O u r application has b e e n p i c k e d up a n d d r o p p e d , e n c o u r a g e d a n d s t o p p e d , started a n d b l o c k e d . Y e t another e x a m p l e of b u r e a u c r a c y with its Y - s h a p e d fronts in a twist in the f a c e of o n e of the most vicious attacks on our lives a n d communities e v e r attempted by a g o v e r n m e n t in this country. (7) In the e n d the request for support w a s s u c c e s s f u l . Y e t b e c a u s e it took s o long to get a definitive a n s w e r , the recipients h a d to settle for a third of the m o n e y they w e r e granted. T h e e x p e r i e n c e greatly effected the artists involved: "[t]he p a r a d o x is that the promise of a grant [...]  h a s d o n e more d a m a g e to the integrity of the group than all our y e a r s of  having to survive through sharing the r e s o u r c e s w e h a d " (Nicols 7). J o e l l e L e a n d r e is similarly busy with the b u s i n e s s s i d e of m u s i c . Her eclectic style, while more financially flexible than most, m a k e s it difficult to b a l a n c e her p e r f o r m a n c e s with her administrative t a s k s . Like S c h w e i z e r a n d N i c o l s , s h e is painfully a w a r e of the price s h e p a y s for her dedication to free improvisation, a s writer A l e x Varty notes: "the o n e thing that galls L e a n d r e most is the e c o n o m i c price the improvising m u s i c i a n p a y s for slipping the y o k e of the printed s c o r e . " L e a n d r e herself h a s frequently c o m m e n t e d o n the marginalization of improvisation a n d the c o n s e q u e n c e s this has on her financial situation a n d m u s i c a l sensibility: I know how m u c h I a m paid w h e n I play recitals. W h e n I p u s h S y l v a n o Bussotti, J a c o b D r u k m a n , J o h n C a g e , G i a n c i n t o S c e l s i a n d K a r l h e i n z S t o c k h a u s e n , I get ten times more than w h e n I'm playing a n improvising gig. A n d for m e it's the s a m e energy, m a y b e more, w h e n I play my music. T h i s is terrible. (Varty)  17  At times my professional status b e c a m e a n i s s u e w h e n the political e c o n o m y of free improvisation s u r f a c e d a s a topic during the c o u r s e of the interviews. T h e w o m e n q u e s t i o n e d m e a s to w h y they weren't interviewed more frequently by critics and/or featured in j a z z publications. W h y w e r e s o few w o m e n p r e s e n t e d in j a z z festivals? W h y couldn't I s e c u r e e n o u g h s p o n s o r s h i p m o n e y to p r o d u c e a w o m e n ' s j a z z festival? W h y didn't I interview m e n a n d m a k e them a w a r e of their g e n d e r b i a s e s ? W h y couldn't I create a forum for w o m e n a n d m e n to talk about g e n d e r i s s u e s in improvisation? C o u l d I write a review of their latest C D ? I found all of t h e s e q u e s t i o n s provocative, knowing full well that they e x p r e s s the kind of frustrations that a c c o m p a n y y e a r s of marginalization. Providing a n s w e r s a n d creative solutions to the p r o b l e m s , however, will require long-term strategies that I h a v e only b e g u n to formulate. During the c o u r s e of my interviews, the a s s u m p t i o n s I m a d e c o n c e r n i n g the c o m m o n g r o u n d I s h a r e d with the w o m e n — c u l t u r a l , racial, aesthetic—shifted, e s p e c i a l l y in relation to sexuality. L o o k i n g b a c k I realize that I h a d o v e r l o o k e d the direct a n d fundamental importance of l e s b i a n sexuality—particularly in relation to the Feminist Improvising G r o u p — t o their improvisational practice. I w a s f o r c e d to look at m y heteronormative a s s u m p t i o n s about improvising a n d renegotiate listening, a s a n interviewer a n d a s a s o u n d theorist, from a q u e e r p e r s p e c t i v e . T h e g r o u n d b r e a k i n g work of S u z a n n e C u s i c k a n d Philip Brett in Queering the Pitch: The New Gay  and  Lesbian Musicology, a n anthology that explores the relation of sexuality to m u s i c (classical a n d popular), w a s helpful in this respect. But while extremely informative, their c o m m e n t a r y is offered largely from a musicological perspective that struggles with/in its o w n disciplinary limitations. Not only d o the c o n n e c t i o n s b e t w e e n sexuality a n d improvisation, e s p e c i a l l y in the "jazz" milieu, warrant futher investigation, they are a l s o  18  generally a b s e n t from a n y d i s c u s s i o n s of improvised m u s i c . V e r y little work h a s s u r f a c e d to date exploring the possibilities of q u e e r listening a n d q u e e r s o u n d i n g . T h e interdisciplinary nature of my work h a s e n a b l e d m e to begin to a d d r e s s the deafening s i l e n c e s that exist in relation to w o m e n , s o u n d a n d improvisation. Interdisciplinarity is, I believe, a constructive, t r a n s g r e s s i v e a m a l g a m of theory a n d practice that c h a l l e n g e s disciplinary b o u n d a r i e s . W h a t is c o n s i d e r e d taboo within disciplinary parameters is articulated in the interdisciplinary intersections of theoretical p a r a d i g m s that s e e m disparate and/or contradictory. Interdisciplinarity e x p l o r e s the interrelatedness a n d inhabits the interstices of disciplinary c o n c e p t s by dismantling a n d reconfiguring t h e m in u n u s u a l a n d creative w a y s . It a l s o c o m b i n e s the theories a n d practices of a multitude of disciplines with a certain irreverence for the e c o n o m y of disciplinary theories a n d practices. T h e intermixing of disciplined a n d "undisciplined" e l e m e n t s h a s the potential to generate theoretical s p a r k s that s o m e t i m e s c a u s e e p i s t e m o l o g i c a l e x p l o s i o n s . In other w o r d s , interdisciplinarity urges disciplinary ground to shift. I s e e c o m p e l l i n g similarities b e t w e e n interdisciplinarity a n d improvisation. E a c h p r o c e s s requires a great deal of o p e n n e s s , fluidity a n d skill to m a k e c o n n e c t i o n s that generate c o n c e p t u a l cross-pollination. In this s e n s e interdisciplinarity is a p r o c e s s of theoretical free a s s o c i a t i o n that respects disciplinary k n o w l e d g e c l a i m s a n d yet takes p e r v e r s e p l e a s u r e in dismantling them. R o s i Braidotti a r g u e s that interdisciplinarity—or transdisciplinarity a s s h e calls it—is a fluid theoretical option that not only c a u s e s shifts in a c a d e m i c d i s c o u r s e but generates alternative subjectivities a s well (1, 35-37). A s a m o v e a w a y from the monolingualism a n d singularity of p h a l l o g o c e n t r i s m , interdisciplinarity c o n s i d e r s theory a verb rather than a n o u n . T h e interdisciplinary  19  r e s e a r c h e r b e c o m e s polyglot, s p e a k i n g m a n y l a n g u a g e s — p o e t i c a s well a s theoretical, subjective a s well a s objective, empirical a s well a s well s c i e n t i f i c — p e r h a p s not fluently but well e n o u g h to take on the risk of translation a n d a c c e p t the d a n g e r s of untranslatability.  8  A s a n interdisciplinary project, Diva-dogs:  Sounding  Women  Improvising  is  neither a straight-forward history of w o m e n improvisers nor a n e x h a u s t i v e documentation of their e x p e r i e n c e s , aesthetic a p p r o a c h e s or political strategies. Rather, it s e e k s to situate w o m e n improvisers within a larger cultural milieu of s o u n d a n d improvisation including, but not limited to, m u s i c , noise, s i l e n c e , rhythm, l a n g u a g e , hysteria, e x c e s s , non-linguistic s o u n d , b a b b l e , cry a n d laughter. T h i s project m a k e s c o n n e c t i o n s b e t w e e n theory a n d practice a s it e x p l o r e s the micro-level e x p e r i e n c e s a n d artistic p r o c e s s e s of w o m e n improvisers, in t a n d e m with the m a c r o - l e v e l interaction of w o m e n a n d s o u n d within the frame of a phallogocentric culture. T h e observation that w o m e n improvisers consistently "break the s o u n d barrier" with their t r a n s g r e s s i v e s o n i c practices, c o u p l e d with the recognition that w o m e n w h o t r a n s g r e s s s o n i c b o u n d a r i e s are l a b e l e d deviant, hysterical a n d abject in w e s t e r n society, r a i s e s q u e s t i o n s c o n c e r n i n g the m e a n i n g of this situation for w o m e n w h o perform their t r a n s g r e s s i o n s knowingly a n d publicly. C a n w o m e n ' s improvisational s o u n d i n g be heard apart from, or differently than the expectations a n d representations of a n e c o n o m y that attempts to regulate the how, w h e n , w h e r e , what a n d w h y of w o m e n ' s s o u n d i n g ? T h e a n s w e r to s u c h a question is, of c o u r s e , multilayered a n d c o m p l e x . T h e critiques, a n a l y s e s a n d s p e c u l a t i o n s that inform this narrative are drawn from both theory a n d the profound insights, aesthetic philosophies a n d expertise of w o m e n improvisers. M y interdisciplinary a p p r o a c h to this project e c h o e s that of J a c q u e s Attali, w h o s e  20  investigation of the political e c o n o m y of n o i s e a n d m u s i c "is not a n attempt at a multidisciplinary study, but rather a call to theoretical indiscipline, with a n e a r to s o u n d matter a s the herald of society" (5). In C h a p t e r o n e " A Riant S p a c i o u s n e s s : S o u n d Matters," I explore s o u n d a s a disruptive a n d generative force in the s y m b o l i c , using laughter a s a n illustrative metaphor. B y c o m b i n i n g J u l i a Kristeva's notion of the semiotic c h o r a with theorist V i c k y Kirby's (re)investigation of matter a s text, I p r o p o s e that the materiality of s o u n d p r o b l e m a t i z e s representation by confounding the b o u n d a r i e s of interior a n d exterior s p a c e . T h e invisible p r e s e n c e of s o u n d c o m p l i c a t e s the visual b a s i s of intelligibility to u n d e r s c o r e the c o r p o r e a l a s a p r o c e s s of audition, (re)writing a n d transformation. S o n i c p o l y v a l e n c e defies singularity, unity a n d identity, calling us to rethink matter, body, text a n d subjectivity entirely. T h i s chapter critically e n g a g e s with theorists Judith Butler a n d K a j a S i l v e r m a n by investigating the relation of s o u n d to l a n g u a g e , through p o s s i b l e reconfigurations of the semiotic c h o r a , the role of the maternal a n d the (dis)embodied voice. C h a p t e r two, " M u s i c is a S c r u b w o m a n : T h e S o n i c Abject," c o n t i n u e s to explore the p a r a m e t e r s of s o u n d — i n c l u d i n g m u s i c , harmony, n o i s e a n d rhythm—in relation to notions of the abject a n d the feminine. Kristeva's theory of abjection figures prominently here, t e m p e r e d by A n n e M c C l i n t o c k ' s multifaceted configuration of abjection b a s e d o n her notion of "situated p s y c h o a n a l y s i s " a n d "psychoanalytically informed history." T h e c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n s o u n d , abjection a n d the feminine l e a d s to d i s c o u r s e s of the monstrous a n d the g r o t e s q u e , w h i c h explore the status of f e m a l e identity in the s y m b o l i c a n d the u n c a n n y ambiguity conjured by representations of f e m a l e corporeality. A s L o r e n a R u s s e l l s u g g e s t s , d i s c o u r s e s of the monstrous a n d the g r o t e s q u e a r e mobile  21  a n d fluid, creating a "queering field" that reconfigures f e m a l e sexuality a n d disrupts the stasis of the s y m b o l i c (178). T h e negotiation of spatial a n d temporal d i m e n s i o n s g e n e r a t e d by the u n c a n n y mobility of the abject c r e a t e s the p a r a d o x of s o n i c jouissance—a  p a r a d o x illustrated in the r e s p o n s e of the c o m p o s e r to the S i r e n call of  his mistress, m u s i c . C h a p t e r three, " P l a y i n g Like a Girl: T h e Q u e e r Laughter of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p , " is a n exploration of the pioneering efforts of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p (FIG) in E u r o p e in the late 1970s. Drawing from interviews with w o m e n w h o participated in F I G , this chapter traces the r e l e v a n c e of improvisation to socio-political i s s u e s of gender, r a c e , c l a s s a n d sexuality. U n e a r t h i n g the c u r r e n c y for w o m e n improvisers of notions e m b e d d e d in the s l o g a n "the p e r s o n a l is political," the relevance of c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising groups a n d the significance of dialectical knowledge production in the antiphony of black m u s i c , I argue that improvisation (re)configures the aural individual a s well a s the s o n i c community. F I G improvised w o m e n ' s lives, s o that playing b e c a m e a reciprocal p r o c e s s , a call a n d r e s p o n s e b e t w e e n improvisers a n d a community of listeners. F a r from being a h o m o g e n e o u s collectivity, F I G improvised i s s u e s of p e r s o n a l politics, performance, l e s b i a n i s m , a n d a e s t h e t i c s , to create a "paradoxical community," a n i n c o m m e n s u r a b l e community that practices "social virtuosity," solidarity, k n o w l e d g e a n d e x p e r i e n c e in the f a c e of difference a n d contradiction. C h a p t e r four, " N o i s e About Nothing: Hysteria a n d the C r y a s S o n i c Pathology a n d Protest," investigates the cultural representation of hysteria a n d of the cry. T o this e n d , I trace the performative mutability of hysteria throughout w e s t e r n history, a history that situates the c a u s e of hysteria in the wandering of a dissatisfied w o m b a n d that  22  marks the mutating effect this w a n d e r i n g w o m b h a s on l a n g u a g e . K a j a S i l v e r m a n ' s p s y c h o a n a l y t i c a n a l y s i s of the cry conflates w o m e n ' s non-linguistic s o u n d i n g with the infantile cry a n d positions w o m e n ' s s o u n d s a s pathological. S u s a n M c C l a r y ' s d i s c u s s i o n of the m a d w o m a n , represented in o p e r a a s m u s i c a l e x c e s s , of the attempts by c o m p o s e r s to "frame" this e x c e s s a n d of the rupture of t h e s e f r a m e s by w o m e n w h o represent t h e m s e l v e s a s e x c e s s i v e , raises the possibility of reconfiguring hysteria a n d the cry a s protest. In C h a p t e r five the notion of hysteria a s self-representation is explored further. In the final chapter, " P e r v e r s e Hysterics: T h e S t r a n g e Criof L e s Diaboliques," I draw from interviews with the improvising trio L e s D i a b o l i q u e s , c o n n e c t i n g the notion of improvisation a s a cry (un cri) of protest a n d r e s i s t a n c e , p r o p o s e d by b a s s i s t J o e l l e L e a n d r e , with theories that similarly position the hysteric's cry a s remonstration. A s manifestations of the w a n d e r i n g w o m b , w a n d e r i n g s o u n d a n d l a n g u a g e b e c o m e p e r f o r m a n c e s of hysterical protest; I a r g u e that this hysterical protest c a n b e "perverted" a n d u s e d in artistic practice. T h i s proposal c o n n e c t s the trope of n o m a d i s m — a s d i s c u s s e d by R o s i Braidotti in relation to f e m i n i s m , a n d A n g e l a D a v i s in relation to f e m a l e A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n b l u e s artists—with Kristeva's c o n c e p t of the w a n d e r i n g foreigner within e a c h of us. K r i s t e v a a r g u e s that the blurring of b o u n d a r i e s between self a n d other e n g e n d e r s a n ethics of respect for irreconcilable differences: a productive tactic for s o u n d i n g / w o m a n / i m p r o v i s i n g . T h e c o n c l u s i o n , "Theory in a C o n s t a n t State of Improvisation," s u g g e s t s directions for future study. In addition to supporting the narrative, e a c h a p p e n d i x is included to provide r e s o u r c e s for listening to a n d viewing the p e r f o r m a n c e s of w o m e n improvisers. A p p e n d i x o n e offers interview excerpts from e a c h improviser, in a n effort to further  23  contextualize the quotations cited within the project. B e c a u s e it offers a primary s o u r c e of information unavailable in any other form, I felt it important to include a wider range of interview material. T h e s e l e c t e d d i s c o g r a p h y in A p p e n d i x two p r e s e n t s a starting point for t h o s e w h o w i s h to s e e k out recorded p e r f o r m a n c e s by w o m e n improvisers, but is by no m e a n s a c o m p r e h e n s i v e listing of recordings m a d e by the w o m e n interviewed. T h e d i s c o g r a p h y s h o u l d not be u s e d a s a substitute for attending live p e r f o r m a n c e s , s i n c e interaction with the performative a s p e c t of free improvisation is integral to understanding a n d appreciating the unique complexities of this m u s i c . A p p e n d i x three includes a short excerpt from the S t o c k h o l m W o m e n ' s M u s i c Festival mentioned at the e n d of C h a p t e r three a n d a short videotape of L e s D i a b o l i q u e s recorded in V a n c o u v e r that is d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r five.  9  T h e figure of the diva-dog w a s created collectively by Irene S c h w e i z e r , J o e l l e L e a n d r e , M a g g i e N i c o l s a n d myself, while waiting for a flight in the transitory s p a c e of the Toronto airport, a "no (wo)man's land," a s theorist R o s i Braidotti d e s c r i b e s the disorienting quality of the generic airport. After a particularly frustrating encounter with a n A i r C a n a d a e m p l o y e e w h o h a s s l e d us by threatening not to c h e c k the o v e r s i z e hard c a s e that protects J o e l l e ' s b a s s in transit, w e b e g a n joking about the strange position of w o m e n m u s i c i a n s w h o are simultaneously treated like d i v a s a n d d o g s . T h i s w a s our w a y of reclaiming that s p a c e of paradoxical identity, to reflect upon the situation of w o m a n a s noun a n d verb. T h e diva-dog is a d a n g e r o u s hybrid, a mutt of sorts, a prima d o g a w h o barks a n d s i n g s , a n underdog w h o growls a n d l a u g h s , bred from the conflicting caricatures that construct w o m a n . S h e is part hysteric, part bitch, a q u e e r figure that "violates community standards," disturbs fixity a n d c r o s s e s the boundaries of f e m a l e containment, categorization, calcified sexuality a n d identity.  24  10  Feminist theoretical p a r a d i g m s that focus o n l a n g u a g e generally overlook the relationship of subjectivity to s o u n d , s o that e x c e s s a n d lack are f r a m e d in a critique of the visual that oddly reinforces s i l e n c e . D i v a - d o g s , a s figures of e x c e s s a n d lack, e s c a p e — a n d by e s c a p i n g define—the parameters of representation, including language in the p r o c e s s of s o u n d i n g , woman(ing), improvising. A d d i n g the suffix "ing" to w o m a n by inference c h a n g e s the static noun to active verb, s u g g e s t i n g that being " w o m a n " is a p r o c e s s , not a finite product. B l e n d e d together s o u n d - i n g , improvis-ing, w o m a n - i n g are multilayered, intertextual polyphonies that perform K r i s t e v a ' s "subject in p r o c e s s / o n trial." In other w o r d s , to be a w o m a n is to be e n g a g e d in a constant state of improvisation.  25  Notes  1  Richard Leppert, The Sight of Sound 133.  2  This discussion of improvisation does not not factor in the discourse surrounding the  reproduction of the improvised text through recording technology, which I believe is a different discussion altogether. 3  The Feminist Reader provides a useful glossary that describes phallogocentrism as a term that  "brings together the notions of phallocentrism and logocentrism. Both these terms have been associated, especially by French feminism, with the organization of sexual difference and language in Western patriarchal cultures." Logocentrism is further described in the same text in relation to the theories of Jacques Derrida:" logocentrism gives independent existence to concepts, which are no more than an effect of linguistic difference. Logocentrism makes ideas the origin of language, and finds the guarantee of truth outside language—in the mind of God or, more recently, in the subjectivity of the individual." Phallocentrism is described as "the order of the masculine and the symbolic, where masculine sexuality is both privileged and reproduced by a belief in the phallus as primary signifier. Thus, the feminine is subordinated to a masculine order, and woman is placed on the side of negativity and lack (of the phallus)." The Feminist Reader. Ed. Catherine Belsey and Jane Moore. (Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1997). 255. 4  For a timely perspective on this question see Lara Pellegrinelli, "Jazz at Lincoln Center Breaks  New Ground, but Where are the Women? Dig Boy Dig." Village Voice 14 November 2000: n. pag. Online, www.villagevoice.com, April 25, 2001.  26  5  For more information on musician's injuries and related health problems the following websites  may be helpful: 1) Canadian Network for Health in the Arts http://web.idirect.com/~cnha/index.html with links to university websites and the International Arts Medicine Association; 2) Musicians and Injuries http://www.engr.unl.edu/eeshop/music.html with comprehensive links to on-line articles and bibliographies, lists of relevant books complete with abstracts, general tips for care of overuse injuries, performing arts clinics, doctors who specialize in musicians' injuries, relaxation methods and alternative techniques, and discussion groups. Throughout the writing of this project I have been constantly reminded of the severity of my own injury which has, at times, incapacitated me. 6  This comment does not suggest that "proper" ethnographic informants exist in any situation.  7  Thanks to Robert Kerr, executive director of the Vancouver festival, for providing these  statistics. 8  The process of interdisciplinarity should not be mistaken for multidisciplinarity, which I believe  requires a super-human ability to be all things to all disciplines in the academy. Multidisciplinarity perpetuates disciplinary authority by ensuring that the discreet boundaries of disciplines remain in tact. It is an additive approach to research that rarely questions the constructions of disciplines, engages with the peripheral spaces beyond disciplinary configurations, or explores their overlap. 9  This performance was part of the annual Time Flies festival of improvised music produced by  Coastal Jazz and Blues Society at the Western Front, November 4-6,1999. 1 0  Heather Findlay describes the term queer in her comment that Dora's interest in Frau K. is  queer because it "violates community standards." Findlay, "Queer Dora: Hysteria, Sexual Politics, and Lacan's Intervention on Transference" 332. Loren Russell describes the verb queering as the movement  27  "between positions of dominance and submission, misogyny and feminism, myth and materiality, with a dizzying mobility." Russell, 'The Queering Field of the Monstrous Woman" 179. In the same work Russell quotes Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick suggesting that Sedgewick "describes how the queer project seeks to open possibilities around the sometimes calcified terms of gendered and sexual identities. Queer theory works within 'the open mesh of possibilities, gaps. Overlaps, dissonances and resonances, lapses and excesses of meaning where the constituent elements of anyone's gender, or anyone's sexuality aren't made (or can't be made) to signify monolithically'" 179.  28  Chapter 1 A Riant Spaciousness: Sound Matters  . . . the semiotic disposition m a k e s its start a s riant s p a c i o u s n e s s — J u l i a Kristeva  1  I laugh: therefore I am[. . .] implicated. I laugh: therefore, I a m responsible and accountable—Donna H a r a w a y  2  T h e more I laugh, h a h a h a h a , the more I fill with g l e e . A n d the more the glee, he he he he, the more I'm a merrier m e — U n c l e A l b e r t  3  A s c e n e mid-way through the film Mary Poppins finds the m a g i c a l nanny, Bert the c h i m n e y s w e e p , a n d the B a n k s children ( J a n e a n d M i c h a e l ) in the curious c o m p a n y of M a r y ' s eccentric U n c l e Albert. It s e e m s that U n c l e Albert h a s a chronic condition, o n e that subjects him to uncontrollable fits of laughter for d a y s o n e n d . T h e problem with this condition is not the laughter per s e , but the effect the laughter h a s o n him. His laughter not only e l e v a t e s his spirits, it lifts his body high into the air allowing him to defy gravity a n d float indefinitely in s p a c e . M a r y ' s tactics to bring him d o w n are of no u s e . S h e points out how ridiculous p e o p l e look w h e n they laugh. S h e p a r o d i e s the s o u n d s they m a k e , calling t h e m noisy a n d disgraceful. S h e s a y s they are vulgar a n d bestial. E a c h attempt to i m p o s e proper bodily c o n d u c t a n d rational b e h a v i o u r falls o n deaf e a r s . Bert a n d the children eventually s u c c u m b to the infectiousness of U n c l e Albert's laughter a n d they too rise toward the living room ceiling, s o m e r s a u l t i n g , flying through the air, telling jokes. In the e n d M a r y c a n no longer resist a n d s h e a b a n d o n s her p r o s c r i b e d role a s g o v e r n e s s to join t h e m in their flight of fancy.  29  T h e laughter e x p e r i e n c e d by U n c l e Albert, Bert, the children a n d M a r y defies the laws of p h y s i c s a s well a s the laws of logic. Highly c o n t a g i o u s , it is transmitted from body to body, s u c k e d inward a n d spat out in abrupt s o n i c outbursts. Laughter s u s p e n d s the s k e p t i c i s m of the mind, supports the weight of the body a n d lifts it into s p a c e . T h i s is the unique capacity of laughter: to jumble the parameters of interior a n d exterior s p a c e ; to ridicule the b o u n d a r i e s that s e p a r a t e body from mind; to defy the gravitational pull of intelligibility. T h e b u o y a n c y of laughter b e l o n g s to a n activity k n o w n a s philobatism d e s c r i b e d by object relations theorist M i c h a e l Balient a s "the field of activities a n d s e n s a t i o n s o r g a n i z e d a r o u n d the thrills of s e e i n g , feeling or imagining the self-supported h u m a n body in s p a c e " ( R u s s o 34). M a r y R u s s o d i s c u s s e s Balient's theory of philobatism in The Female  Grotesque:  Risk, Excess and Modernity,  tracing the trope to the late nineteenth  a n d early twentieth centuries w h e n the philobat w a s r e p r e s e n t e d a s " a lover a n d s e e k e r of [thrills] in the external world a n d in the workings of the imagination" (35). R u s s o explains that the philobat s e e k s out both d a n g e r o u s a n d friendly s p a c e s that exist apart from his/her " h o m e b a s e a n d its familiar objects," a n d in doing s o e x p e r i e n c e s the risk offered by this free-floating activity with a n a m b i g u o u s mix of p l e a s u r e a n d fear. A n attachment to the familiar, c o u p l e d with a desire to m o v e a w a y from h o m e , is a d d r e s s e d in Balient's psychoanalytic interpretation of philobatism a s a n urge to reenact the gestural a n d p s y c h i c activities originally e x p e r i e n c e d in the primal s c e n e . R u s s o a r g u e s that Balient's representation of the primal philobatic s c e n e is reminiscent of J u l i a Kristeva's c o n c e p t of the semiotic c h o r a : Without o b s e r v i n g a strict chronology [Balient] locates a n d d e s c r i b e s , in g e n e r a l terms, a s o u r c e in the recall of a free-floating, maternal  30  environment, similar to that theorized by J u l i a K r i s t e v a a s the semiotic c h o r a , a n unsignified free s p a c e , anterior to l a n g u a g e a n d culture, but n o n e t h e l e s s powerfully r e m a i n d e r e d within s y m b o l i z a t i o n a s a n ambivalent (safe a n d d a n g e r o u s ) O t h e r n e s s . (36) A l t h o u g h the philobat u s e s the maternal body a s a jumping-off point, philobatic activity is more than a linear journey that m o v e s a w a y from a n d returns to the maternal, a n d a s Balient s u g g e s t s it o c c u r s "at different s t a g e s or layers of the e x p e r i e n c e of spatiality" ( R u s s o 36). T h e e x p e r i e n c e s e n g e n d e r e d by philobatic flights of imagination a n d their concomitant risks are linked to the u n c o n s c i o u s p r o c e s s e s that propel us toward the a m b i g u o u s a n d c o m p l e x p s y c h i c a n d corporeal s p a c e s of subjectivity. In the c a s e of Mary Poppins,  philobatic activity is a s o n i c activity, a laughter that  supports the body in s p a c e . T h e free floating laughter of Bert, M a r y , U n c l e Albert a n d the children s u g g e s t s both a c o n n e c t i o n to the choric s p a c e of the maternal, a n d a disruption of paternal l a n g u a g e a n d gestural propriety. T h i s is a laughter that s e e k s e x p e r i e n c e s b e y o n d the gravitational pull of the nineteenth-century b o u r g e o i s family. Bert a s c h i m n e y sweep/itinerant m u s i c i a n a n d M a r y P o p p i n s a s nanny are workingc l a s s figures w h o throw off the weight of c o n v e n t i o n s to disrupt the stifling middle-class constraints that a n c h o r the children a n d r e p r e s s their creativity. U n c l e Albert's fits of hysterical laughter s u g g e s t a n eccentric s p a c e of difference, a liminal s p a c e b e y o n d intelligibility that e n g a g e s both c o n s c i o u s a n d u n c o n s c i o u s p r o c e s s e s . It is within this liminal s p a c e that the n o n s e n s i c a l , thrill-seeking s o u n d of laughter strangely m a k e s s e n s e . F o r t h e s e philobats laughter b e c o m e s a c o m p l e x e x p r e s s i o n of corporeal a n d s o n i c materiality: " a signifying v o i c e before the advent of the w o r d ! "  31  4  Sound Beyond Vision S o u n d theorist D o u g l a s K a h n writes that "[v]isuality o v e r w h e l m s aurality in the cultural b a l a n c e of the s e n s e s " (Noise  158). W e s t e r n culture's fascination with vision  revolves a r o u n d tangibility, i m m e d i a c y a n d p r e s e n c e , he a r g u e s , b e c a u s e "the light that s p a r k s the p r e s e n c e of objects a n d environments s e e m s to be instantaneously e v e r y w h e r e . " S o u n d o n the other h a n d is intangible, e p h e m e r a l a n d invisible, a s e e m i n g l y residual effect of events: "that take p l a c e within a larger state of being" (Noise  158). Y e t the i m p r e s s of s o u n d is undeniable. W e are ear, nerve, flesh a n d bone  w i t n e s s e s to s o n i c inscription. S o u n d writes upon the exterior s u r f a c e s a n d interior s u b s t a n c e s of the body with a n invisible ink that l e a v e s its mark a s it e v a p o r a t e s a n d d i s a p p e a r s . Although elusive, s o u n d is s h a p e d into l a n g u a g e , m o l d e d into m u s i c , muted in public, r e l e a s e d in private. T h e invisibility of s o u n d disrupts our ability to identify in any definitive w a y the spatial a n d temporal limits of origin a n d a b s e n c e . W h a t existed before s o u n d ? Is it a present a b s e n c e , a n a b s e n t p r e s e n c e or s o m e t h i n g that confounds the very notions of p r e s e n c e a n d a b s e n c e ? A s Victor Z u k e r l a n d l writes in his musiccentered critique of the western c o n c e p t of reality, " b e c a u s e [sound] exists, the tangible a n d visible c a n n o t b e the whole of the given world. T h e intangible a n d the invisible is itself a part of this world, something w e encounter, s o m e t h i n g to w h i c h w e r e s p o n d " ( M a c k e y 233). O u r e x p e r i e n c e of a n d participation with s o u n d is i n s e p a r a b l e from our e x p e r i e n c e of a n d participation with our b o d y a n d the b o d i e s of others. T h e r e s o n a n c e s of s o u n d w a v e s register in the very fibers of e a c h a n d every body in w a y s that c o n f o u n d the a s s u m e d d i s c r e e t n e s s of exterior a n d interior s p a c e . S o n i c p o l y v a l e n c e defies singularity, unity a n d identity a n d calls us to rethink the body entirely. If the body is  32  resonant with/in a polyphony of s o n i c vibrations, is corporeality a p o l y p h o n y ? Is the body indeed in a constant state of s o n i c flux? A s s o u n d theorist F r a n c e s D y s o n o b s e r v e s , s o u n d is able to question our corporeal b o u n d a r i e s by i m m e r s i n g us in its invisible f l u i d i t y :  5  T h e p h e n o m e n a l characteristics of s o u n d d e s c r i b e a flow or p r o c e s s rather than a thing, a n d a m o d e of being w h i c h c o m e s into a n d g o e s out of e x i s t e n c e in a constant state of flux. T h e body that listens to [and produces] this s o u n d is n e c e s s a r i l y i m m e r s e d in this flux, making aural perception fluidic a n d p o l y m o r p h o u s . (136) D o e s s o u n d c h a l l e n g e the s i g n ? T r a c i n g a specifically s o n i c trajectory, feeling my w a y along a n u n m a r k e d path that traverses the p e r v a s i v e yet illusory terrain of s o u n d , I p r o p o s e that the materiality of s o u n d problematizes representation. T h e invisible a n d intangible p r e s e n c e of s o u n d c o m p l i c a t e s the visual b a s i s of intelligibility to form links with the corporeal in myriad c o m p l e x w a y s that e x c e e d specularity a n d u n d e r s c o r e materiality a s a m o d e of audition, (re)writing, rhythm a n d transformation.  S o u n d Matters A c c o r d i n g to V i c k y Kirby in Telling Flesh:  The Substance  ofthe  Corporeal,  the  investigation of "materiality"—that is, of "matter" or " s u b s t a n c e " — c h a l l e n g e s the notion of e s s e n c e a s the limit, a limit that s h e a r g u e s , is at times strategically d e n i e d in order to e r a s e the complexities of materiality (54). Kirby q u e s t i o n s the fixed identity of e s s e n c e a s boundary or threshold, a n d concomitantly constructs her argument upon the notion that "matter is constantly rewritten a n d transformed" (4). H e r rewriting of matter a s the s u b s t a n c e of the corporeal d r a w s attention to the fluid w o r k i n g s of blood, b o n e , breath,  33  flesh a n d tissue that are often e s s e n t i a l i z e d a s the m e r e m e c h a n i c s or functions of the body. A s s i g n e d to the nature side of the nature/culture binary, the biological body is v i e w e d a s content or "raw material" that c a n only be given s h a p e a n d m e a n i n g in a n d through cultural a n d linguistic contexts. Kirby q u e s t i o n s the notion of " b e t w e e n n e s s , " p r o p o s e d by theorists a s a n attempt to c l o s e the g a p p r o d u c e d by the s y m b o l i c construction of hierarchical binaries (such a s nature/culture, matter/form a n d s o on). F o r Kirby, b e t w e e n n e s s is d e p e n d e n t upon "notions of d i s c r e e t n e s s a n d identity a n d upon the linear c o n c e p t s of time a n d s p a c e " a n d fails to probe into the " e s s e n c e " of e s s e n t i a l i s m with the s a m e depth a n d commitment afforded the exploration of representation (52). S h e s u g g e s t s that o c c u p y i n g the middle ground is a static positioning that m a y f o r e c l o s e the identity of matter in favour of the identity of the sign. T h u s Kirby e n c o u r a g e s us to inhabit the limit of nature, matter, the feminine—the "other" or "negative" s i d e of the binaries nature/culture, matter/form, f e m i n i n e / m a s c u l i n e — i n a w a y that " e m b r a c e s a n d c o n f o u n d s both terms, destabilizes their division a n d refigures their m e a n i n g s " (60). Inhabiting " e s s e n c e " a s limit in order to rupture that limit is a m o v e a w a y from static positioning toward motile philobatic activity. T h i s is a n itinerant exploration, a mobile critique that refuses to get stuck mid-way b e t w e e n two o p p o s i n g p o l e s by moving in, a r o u n d a n d through its o w n shifting axis. Kirby's project, then, s u g g e s t s a h e t e r o g e n e o u s a n d labyrinthine exploration of materiality that is articulated from strange trajectories.  6  In addition, Kirby's title, Telling Flesh, s u g g e s t s a s o n i c fluidity that relies upon the interrelationship of s o u n d to materiality. F l e s h — r i f e with c o u r s i n g blood, pulsating m u s c l e s , nerve c h a r g e s , intermingled with vibrating b o n e s — e n g a g e s the entire body in  34  the act of telling, a s o n i c a n d corporeal act. F l e s h that tells g i v e s utterance to matter, s o u n d i n g a n intelligibility that e x c e e d s , e x t e n d s a n d e s c a p e s l a n g u a g e a n d representation. T h e notion that s o u n d g e n e r a t e s a c o r p o r e a l c a c o p h o n y that c a n be s e n s e d and m a d e s e n s e of is provocative: If the vibrations of s k i n a n d blood constitute a m o d e of listening, a m o d e of reading a n d rewriting s o u n d , then s o u n d itself is a text, a differential reflex. H e r e , touch i m p e r s o n a t e s s o u n d b e c a u s e both modalities are u n d e r s c o r e d by the rhythm of a difference in w h i c h the body is never not m u s i c a l . T h e body is the s p a c i n g of this g a m e , the ma(r)king of a n u n c a n n y interlude. (63) A body resonant with s o u n d s plays with the s u b s t a n c e a n d s h a p e of s o n i c content. T h e (re)configuration of s o u n d a n d the body a s the textual (inter)play of content disrupts the morphology of the sign b e c a u s e it disrupts the very i d e a of morphology altogether (Kirby 70, 171). T h e separability of the linguistic from the non-linguistic is c h a l l e n g e d by the body's ability to resonate both in conjunction with a n d apart from l a n g u a g e . T h e reluctance to o p e n linguistic signifiers to s o n i c s u b s t a n c e s c o n d e m n s the non-linguistic body to a muted m e a n i n g l e s s n e s s . Kirby o b s e r v e s the t e n d e n c y of linguists to s e p a r a t e , in the w o r d s of S a u s s u r e , "the material s o u n d , a purely physical thing" from "the p s y c h o l o g i c a l imprint of the s o u n d , the i m p r e s s i o n it m a k e s o n our s e n s e s , " in order to d e n y the significance of l a n g u a g e ' s materiality altogether (Kirby 55)7 S o u n d is s e e n a s nothing more than support for linguistic m e a n i n g , a n d S a u s s u r e s u g g e s t s that "[i]t is i m p o s s i b l e for s o u n d alone, a material element, to b e l o n g to l a n g u a g e . It is only a s e c o n d a r y thing, s u b s t a n c e to be put to u s e " ( A p p l e b a u m 4 7 ) .  8  T h e separability of s o u n d or phonic matter from the s o u n d - i m a g e a n d the s u b s e q u e n t  35  e r a s u r e of p h o n o l o g y from l a n g u a g e insures the stability of representation. A n irreconcilable w e d g e is c r e a t e d b e t w e e n s i g n a n d matter, s o u n d - i m a g e a n d s o u n d , to silence the b o d y ' s materiality (Kirby 55-56). A similar observation is m a d e by v o i c e theorist D a v i d A p p l e b a u m w h e n he s u g g e s t s that c o m m u n i c a t i o n through signs—that is, s p e e c h a n d l a n g u a g e — r e l i e s precisely o n the denial of the body in s p e e c h , a technology of c o n c e a l m e n t he identifies a s the mastery of p h o n e m i c s o u n d production. For A p p l e b a u m , s p e e c h is not a s transparent a s S a u s s u r e a n d other linguists p r o p o s e , but is actually built upon the secreting of the complexities of v o i c e , w h e n s o u n d is "cultured" by l a n g u a g e . T h e cultured v o i c e , he o b s e r v e s , requires a "cognitive revision" that e r a s e s the materiality of s p e e c h through t e c h n o l o g i e s of production a n d control. S o u n d , w h e t h e r inside or outside of l a n g u a g e , d e m o n s t r a t e s a pathology of the body that is c o v e r e d over with the taming of v o i c e by proper s p e e c h . Within the parameters of s y m b o l i c l a n g u a g e the fluid e x c h a n g e of s a l i v a , the l u m p i n e s s of the tongue, the unhygienic oral cavity are disavowed. V o i c e a s s o n i c pathology o c c u p i e s a multiplicitous a n d unruly s p a c e of t r a n s g r e s s i o n that disrupts the s p o k e n territories of cognition a n d culture. A p p l e b a u m d e s c r i b e s the relationship of v o i c e to body a s "body voicing," a c o n c e p t stretching b e y o n d the univocality a n d singularity of v o i c e to e n g a g e the s u b s t a n t i v e n e s s of the corporeal. W h e n corporeality is d e n i e d , v o i c e — a s s p e e c h or writing—is a demonstration of the p h o n e m i c control n e c e s s a r y for representation, a mastery of s o u n d that delimits the acoustical d i m e n s i o n s of body v o i c i n g . A p p l e b a u m points to the "glottal t e n s i o n a n d respiratory re-tension" n e c e s s a r y to control the u n w a n t e d n o i s e s that a c c o m p a n y s p e e c h (47). A s the m e s s y "grain" of l a n g u a g e the corporeal v o i c e  36  utilizes unregulated a n d unpredictable s o n i c matter that carries the potential to disturb or dismantle the s i g n . T h i s r o u g h n e s s is p e r h a p s the s o n i c "grain" of the c o r p o r e a l — a liberal extension of B a r t h e s ' grain of the v o i c e — a n inclusion of the s o n i c materiality of the body in l a n g u a g e , m u s i c a n d e l s e w h e r e .  9  A Riant S p a c i o u s n e s s Laughter is o n e s u c h performance of the corporeal s o n i c grain. Although a profound a n d multi-dimensional s o n i c gesture, laughter s u m m o n s a n initial s e n s e of w e i g h t l e s s n e s s that, a s with the philobatic laughter in Mary Poppins,  excites the  gravitation of exterior a n d interior, body a n d mind. F o r J u l i a K r i s t e v a the first laugh is generated by the weightless s p a c e of the pre-oedipal environment s h e n a m e s the semiotic c h o r a (Oliver 35). Laughter r e s o n a t e s with/in Kristeva's c h o r a , a s a n irruption of energy drives that s o u n d the intrauterine e x p e r i e n c e : "[t]he imprint of a n archaic moment, the threshold of s p a c e , the " c h o r a " a s primitive stability a b s o r b i n g anaclitic facilitation, p r o d u c e s laughter" (Kristeva Desire  283).  Kristeva's hypothesis of the semiotic c h o r a is a c o m p l e x e v o c a t i o n of a corporeal, kinesthetic a n d s o n i c materiality that marks the body a s "all c o n s t a n c y a n d all variation."  10  T h e c h o r a c h a l l e n g e s the notion that the body is "brute fact" by disturbing  the linearity of the spatial a n d temporal parameters that construct the s y m b o l i c notions of origin-as-limit a n d d i f f e r e n c e - a s - a b s e n c e . A s H e l e n e C i x o u s s u g g e s t s the s e a r c h for origin is a " m a s c u l i n e myth" that erects the s y m b o l i c e c o n o m y . A "female libidinal e c o n o m y " o n the other h a n d is " a regime, e n e r g i e s , a s y s t e m of s p e n d i n g not n e c e s s a r i l y c a r v e d out by culture [...]  a l w a y s e n d l e s s , without e n d i n g ; there's no  closure, it doesn't stop." T h i s is a n e c o n o m y that reconfigures origin a s beginning, a  37  continual p r o c e s s of beginning, "starting o n all s i d e s at o n c e , " that c r e a t e s a n e n d l e s s flow of possibility ("Decapitation" 354). T h e c h o r a b e l o n g s to this kind of female libidinal e c o n o m y . A s a h e t e r o g e n e o u s negotiation of body a n d p s y c h e it is more than a d i s p o s a b l e container with a n expiry date; the c h o r a constantly r e c y c l e s a n d renews subjectivity o n the margins of the s y m b o l i c s p a c e . Kristeva appropriates a n d r e c o n c e p t u a l i z e s P l a t o ' s c o n c e p t of the  chora—"an  invisible a n d formless being which receives all things a n d in s o m e mysterious w a y partakes of the intelligible, a n d is most i n c o m p r e h e n s i b l e " (Moi Sexual 161)—to d e v e l o p a theoretical m o d e l that explains the c o m p l e x corporeal constitution of the spatial a n d temporal b e i n g n e s s that underlies subjectivity. D e s c r i b e d by K r i s t e v a a s the "instinctual semiotic" a n d a n archaic, non-linguistic e c o s y s t e m , the c h o r a e s t a b l i s h e s a s p a c e in w h i c h a n " e n d l e s s flow of pulsations" articulates a c o n t i n u u m b e t w e e n internal a n d external s o u n d s , rhythms a n d gestures (Moi Kristeva 161). T h e pulsations that flow in a n d through the c h o r a create this " m u s i c a l " e c o n o m y , o n e that is n e v e r static but e n g a g e s libidinal drives in a h e t e r o g e n e o u s p r o c e s s . A s a constantly renewable, motile a n d provisional articulation of e n e r g i e s a n d their transitory states, the c h o r a p r e c e d e s specularization, it exists prior to representation, prior to signification, a n d thus m e a n i n g (Kristeva Revolution 93). A s Kristeva e x p l a i n s , the "future s p e a k i n g being" dwells in a temporal a n d spatial equilibrium of libidinal drives that produce, incorporate a n d a s s i m i l a t e gesture, s o u n d , articulation a n d intonation: T h e pre-oedipal stage is defined by primary, oral, a n d a n a l satisfactions, by a lack of differentiation a m o n g n e e d , a n d d e s i r e , a n d by a p i e c e m e a l body that is not yet identified a s o n e ' s o w n body b e c a u s e the identity of  38  the e g o a n d the s u p e r e g o already d e p e n d o n l a n g u a g e a n d the father. ( G u b e r m a n 110) D e p e n d e n t neither wholly on l a n g u a g e nor the paternal law perse,  the c h o r a exists  prior to l a n g u a g e a n d yet is paradoxically c o e x t e n s i v e with it. T h e semiotic o c c u p i e s a s p a c e adjacent to the s y m b o l i c regulation of the d r i v e s — t h e biological, socio-historical a n d familial constraints of the paternal law that order the drives by penetrating the semiotic; but this regulation is mediated by the mother w h o acts a s a conduit for the regulation of the s y m b o l i c exterior, transmitting a s p e c t s of "the L a w of the Father" to the future s p e a k i n g b e i n g . M o r e fluid than paternal law, the maternal regulation of drives mediated through the body a n d the p s y c h e of the mother c o u l d well be c o n s i d e r e d the law that p r e c e d e s the paternal law (Oliver 47). N e v e r t h e l e s s , the s y m b o l i c objectively a n d concretely m a n a g e s choric drives by stagnating the libidinal e n e r g i e s of the "unstructured s o m a . " T o counteract this 1 1  paralysis, libidinal e n e r g i e s resist the continual threat of s t a s e s by inducing, in Kristeva's w o r d s , " w a v e s of attack against s t a s e s . " T h e continuous to a n d fro b e t w e e n libidinal c h a r g e s a n d their o p p o s i n g s t a s e s d o e s not c a u s e t h e m to c a n c e l e a c h other out, but instead m a k e s the c h o r a a n active, generative a n d thus productive s p a c e , o n e which K r i s t e v a c h a r a c t e r i z e s a s p o s s e s s i n g a n "affirmative negativity" (Desire  17). In relation  to the continuous libidinal p r o c e s s e s of the choric s p a c e , K r i s t e v a s t r e s s e s that it is the " p l a c e w h e r e the subject is both g e n e r a t e d a n d n e g a t e d " (Moi Kristeva  95).  F o r K r i s t e v a the semiotic is integral to the workings of signification. T h e c h o r a not only facilitates the interior r e l e a s e of libidinal drives (energy c h a r g e s ) , but a l s o exists a s the limit—the p l a c e w h e r e the drives are subject to the exterior constraints that structure them. In K r i s t e v a ' s w o r d s , the semiotic c h o r a articulates " a n o n e x p r e s s i v e totality  39  formed by the drives a n d their s t a s e s in a motility that is a s full of m o v e m e n t a s it is regulated" [Revolution  25). T h e key a s p e c t to the c h o r a , then, is this unpredictable yet  interactive m o v e m e n t of drives a n d their s t a s e s . A s K r i s t e v a s u g g e s t s , the c h o r a is more a n intuitive articulation than a disposition d e p e n d e n t upon representation.  T h e R o l e of Negativity In a materialist/psychoanalytic (re)reading of the H e g e l i a n dialectic through F r e u d i a n drives, K r i s t e v a identifies the motility of the drives a n d their s t a s e s a s negativity.  Negativity, s h e a r g u e s , is a n affirmative a n d productive p r o c e s s that "figures  a s the indissoluble relation b e t w e e n a n 'ineffable' mobility a n d its particular determination" (Revolution  109). In other w o r d s , within the e c o n o m y of the c h o r a  negativity g e n e r a t e s m o v e m e n t and e n c o u r a g e s stagnation (the build-up a n d r e l e a s e of various forms of energy). Negativity is located in neither m o v e m e n t nor stagnation a l o n e , but in a fluid c h o r e o g r a p h y that intertwines two oppositional f o r c e s without destroying either force entirely. G l o s s i n g L e n i n , K r i s t e v a writes that negativity d e m o n s t r a t e s both the " n e c e s s a r y c o n n e c t i o n " of all p h e n o m e n a a n d the "struggle of differences," in s u c h a w a y that the interplay of difference is integral to both material a n d spiritual e x i s t e n c e (Revolution  110).  A c c o r d i n g to Kristeva, it is n e c e s s a r y to revisit a n d revise the theories of H e g e l a n d F r e u d to distinguish her notion of negativity-as-process from negativity a s it a p p e a r s in traditional philosophy and/or p s y c h o a n a l y s i s . S h e v i e w s H e g e l ' s v e r s i o n of negativity a s limiting, b e c a u s e it e r a s e s the possibility of a d y n a m i c p r o c e s s by synthesizing the d i a l e c t i c — a m o v e that effectively unifies the subject. O n the other h a n d , F r e u d ' s v e r s i o n of negativity, or " e x p u l s i o n " a s he refers to it, o c c u r s purely at the  40  level of the u n c o n s c i o u s , propels us toward the "death drive," a n d is thus contingent o n the e n d l e s s repetition of a degenerative linearity. In d e v e l o p i n g her o w n notion of negativity K r i s t e v a o p e n s the c o n c e p t to the spatial a n d temporal possibilities of the signifying practice. Negativity, in K r i s t e v a ' s terms, e n s u r e s the c o n t i n u o u s a n d r e n e w a b l e p r o c e s s of subjectivity: "[t]he s o l e function of our u s e of the term 'negativity' is to d e s i g n a t e the p r o c e s s that e x c e e d s the signifying subject, binding him to the laws of objective struggles in nature a n d society" (Revolution  119).  T o u n d e r s c o r e clearly the links b e t w e e n negativity a n d the drive functions of the semiotic, a n d to distinguish negativity from n e g a t i o n — a term that indicates the judgement "no" that is a mark of the s y m b o l i c — K r i s t e v a a d o p t s the term "rejection," w h i c h s h e borrows from p s y c h o a n a l y s i s . S h e explains that rejection is a more specific form of negativity that f o c u s e s o n "the practice of the subject, in this c a s e , the signifying practice w h i c h puts his (subjective and/or signifying) unity in p r o c e s s / o n trial" (Revolution  119).  1 2  A s well, rejection relates to "concrete operations"—that is, to "forms  of k n o w l e d g e w h i c h modify the object to b e k n o w n in order to bring about transformations a n d their results"—that hover o n the border b e t w e e n the c o n s c i o u s a n d the u n c o n s c i o u s (Revolution  123). In other w o r d s , rejection c h a l l e n g e s the unitary  subject by recognizing that the subject is "in p r o c e s s / o n trial." K r i s t e v a r e a d s F r e u d ' s fort-da g a m e in this light. A s a n illustration of rejection, the fort-da g a m e d e m o n s t r a t e s a kinesthetic a n d spatial materiality that e n g a g e s difference in its incorporation of a n d r e s p o n s e to the c o r p o r e a l a n d the s o c i a l , matter a n d representation: "[t]he F r e u d i a n fort-da reveals that the return of instinctual rejection is already kinetic a n d gestural a n d constitutes a signifying s p a c e a n d / o r s p a c e of practice" (Revolution  170). T h i s reading of the fort-da g a m e differs from L a c a n ' s interpretation,  41  w h i c h is f o c u s e d o n a mastery of desire for the other that warrants the substitution of s o m e kind of s y m b o l to s t a n d in for the m i s s i n g object (Oliver 44). L a c a n ' s reading is b a s e d o n the a b s e n c e of the (m)other a n d the child's recognition of a n d c o m p e n s a t i o n for this lost object. Kristeva, on the other h a n d , translates this g a m e a s a performance of the corporeal workings of difference already e s t a b l i s h e d in the s e m i o t i c body in relation to the subject in p r o c e s s / o n trial. Kelly Oliver clarifies this point: "[njegativity m o v e s through both the s y m b o l i c function a n d the s y m b o l i c order b e c a u s e it m o v e s through the c o r p o r e a l " (44). F o r K r i s t e v a this corporeal mediation b e g i n s with the drives operative in the body through the primary p r o c e s s e s of the semiotic c h o r a . T h e drives p r o d u c e e x c e s s in all its forms (that is, oral, muscular, urethral a n d anal) a s they a c c u m u l a t e matter to a point that requires a n e x p u l s i o n for release of the build-up (Revolution  151). K r i s t e v a  identifies anality a s the most illustrative of the primary p r o c e s s e s . T h e e x p u l s i o n of matter p r o d u c e s not only pain a n d loss a s s u b s t a n c e s are rejected from the body, but pleasure a s e n e r g y s u r g e s m o v e through the anal sphincters. T h u s the heterogeneity of difference a n d the rhythm of s e p a r a t i o n a r e a l r e a d y operative in the future s p e a k i n g being in the form of e x c e s s a n d rejection, p r o c e s s e s that constitute a corporeal pleasure that is later r e p r e s s e d in the s y m b o l i c . K r i s t e v a writes that anality " p r e c e d e s the establishment of the s y m b o l i c a n d is both its precondition a n d its r e p r e s s e d element" (Re volution 149). Rejection in the semiotic, then, is the impetus for the p l e a s u r a b l e a n d traumatic disruption of the s y m b o l i c function. Anality subverts the s y m b o l i c by agitating the subject's b o d y toward both p l e a s u r e a n d l o s s , a n d , b e c a u s e the semiotic p r o c e s s constitutes the subject's fundamental e x p e r i e n c e of s e p a r a t i o n , it too is a n e x p e r i e n c e  42  of both p l e a s u r e a n d l o s s [Revolution  151). K r i s t e v a a r g u e s that the configuration of  separation a s lack, identified in L a c a n ' s mirror s t a g e a n d illustrated in his interpretation of the fort-da g a m e , r e p r e s s e s the p l e a s u r e that a c c o m p a n i e s s e p a r a t i o n in the semiotic, a n d a s s u c h cannot constitute the b a s i s for e n t r a n c e into subjectivity. A s a n alternative to the mirror s t a g e , K r i s t e v a p r o p o s e s that the thetic, which is "prefigured by instinctual s t a s e s , " b r e a c h e s or ruptures the semiotic c h o r a to a d v a n c e — i n u n m e a s u r e d rhythmic w a v e s — t h e subject's entry into the s y m b o l i c . T h e "oscillation b e t w e e n rejection a n d s t a s i s jolts the material b e i n g (the body) into the thetic a n d into the S y m b o l i c , w h e r e the body is represented by a s i g n " (Oliver 45). At the boundary of the s y m b o l i c the thetic stands a s the threshold of signification w h e r e the infant t a k e s up a subject position. T h e p r o c e s s e s of rejection that h a v e already b e e n e s t a b l i s h e d in the infant's body by m e a n s of the semiotic c h o r a provide the impetus toward a threshold that will propel the subject into the s y m b o l i c . T h e thetic thus s e r v e s a s the precondition for signification: T h e thetic p h a s e m a r k s a threshold b e t w e e n two h e t e r o g e n e o u s realms: the semiotic a n d the s y m b o l i c . T h e s e c o n d includes part of the first a n d their s c i s s i o n is thereafter m a r k e d by the break b e t w e e n signifier a n d signified. (Revolution  48)  T h e thetic is two-fold. T h e entry into subjectivity ruptures the c h o r i c e c o n o m y in order to propel the infant toward subjectivity. K r i s t e v a p r o p o s e s that a s a result of this thetic break the s y m b o l i c contains the "split unification" of signifier a n d signified. T h e rupture, however, is never c o m p l e t e , a n d , a s K r i s t e v a a s s e r t s (glossing L a c a n ) , there will a l w a y s remain " r e s i d u e s of first s y m b o l i z a t i o n s [... able to sublate" (Revolution  ] t h o s e drives that the thetic p h a s e w a s not  49). T h i s observation l e a d s K r i s t e v a to p r o p o s e a s e c o n d -  43  d e g r e e thetic that reinstates "the functioning characteristic of the s e m i o t i c c h o r a within the signifying d e v i c e of l a n g u a g e " (Revolution  50). T h u s the thetic negotiation b e t w e e n  the semiotic a n d the s y m b o l i c — a h e t e r o g e n e o u s activity that g e n e r a t e s subjectivity—introduces a n d prohibits jouissance  (Revolution  80). T h i s p r o c e s s is b a s e d  upon the logic of renewal rather than on the repetition of the s a m e identity: it is both a n insidious demolition a n d i n c e s s a n t renovation of s y m b o l i c unity. T h e thetic, then, is a rhythmic rupture of the repetitions of the s y m b o l i c that introduces a quality of difference into s y m b o l i c s t a s e s . In other w o r d s , the thetic is the s p a c e of o t h e r n e s s , Kirby's "rhythm of a difference in w h i c h the body is never not m u s i c a l " (63). (The rhythmic rupture of exact repetition a n d its relation to o t h e r n e s s in aesthetic practice is d i s c u s s e d further in C h a p t e r s two a n d three). Both sacrifice a n d art are identified by K r i s t e v a a s s e c o n d d e g r e e thetic p r o c e s s e s , p r o c e s s e s that c h a n n e l the abrupt libidinal v i o l e n c e of the c h o r a into a "positioned v i o l e n c e " in the s y m b o l i c (Oliver 40). F o r K r i s t e v a art is a specific a n d "certain kind of practice" that h a s its origins in sacrifice—the c h a n n e l i n g of libidinal drive c h a r g e s — a n d a s s u c h art h a s the thetic ability to break through the s y m b o l i c in order to "dissolve the logical order, w h i c h is in short, the outer limit founding the h u m a n a n d the s o c i a l " (Revolution  79). A s a s i m u l a c r u m of sacrifice, art s t a g e s a dialectic b e t w e e n the  semiotic a n d the s y m b o l i c : "to introduce through the s y m b o l i c that w h i c h w o r k s o n , m o v e s through, a n d threatens it" (Revolution  81). T h i s s u b v e r s i v e function links art to  the u n c o n s c i o u s w h i c h , a c c o r d i n g to Kristeva, a l s o s e e k s to m o v e in a n d against the social order. Art is thus a signifying practice that must be c o n s i d e r e d "within the signifying c h a i n instituted by the thetic," a rhythmic variability that r e c o g n i z e s a n d "includes the a g e n c y of the symbolic," the two c o m p o n e n t s of signification  44  (Revolution  81). For K r i s t e v a , art is not b a s e d o n s y m b o l i c representation a l o n e , but is a p r o c e s s that r e a c h e s into the e c o n o m y of the semiotic to utilize the m o v e m e n t of rejection to regenerate signification. Rejection, then, is located at the threshold of subjectivity, a liminal s p a c e that negotiates difference. T h i s is a "split" subjectivity that r e s i d e s in neither nature nor culture but is a l w a y s in the p r o c e s s of becoming  in/of both. Rejection  ruptures the s y m b o l i c a n d its s c o p i c b a s i s in the mirror s t a g e , "destroys the pairing of opposites," a n d r e p l a c e s oppositional hierarchies with a n "infinitesimal differentiation" {Revolution  125-126).  T h e p r o c e s s e s that c r e a t e the h e t e r o g e n e o u s a n d d y n a m i c e c o n o m y of the c h o r a operate within a n "ethics"—or what Kristeva refers to a s "heret(h)ics"—that negotiates this infinitesimal difference. A s Kelly Oliver e x p l a i n s : "the mother's love for the child, w h i c h is love for herself but a l s o the willingness to give herself up, [is] the b a s i s of a new ethics, 'herethics"'(64). A s the o n e w h o carries out the maternal function the mother b e c o m e s the site of a love that exists outside the l a w — a r e n e g a d e or "outlaw" (heretic) love—that bridges nature a n d culture, semiotic a n d s y m b o l i c . T h i s ethical love f o r e s h a d o w s the d y n a m i c interaction that o c c u r s b e t w e e n the individual a n d the s o c i a l in the s y m b o l i c . It is the foundation for a n "aesthetic" that acts a s a guarantee of the continuous a n d shifting negotiation of the "subject in p r o c e s s / o n trial" in the s y m b o l i c (Kristeva Revolution  111).  Kristeva's notion of the aesthetic, then, s t a n d s in s h a r p contrast to the c l a s s i c aesthetic prevalent in the western literary tradition, d e s c r i b e d by B a r b a r a J o h n s o n in her e s s a y " M u t e n e s s E n v y . " A s J o h n s o n s u g g e s t s , the poetic g a z e constructs the female b o d y a s a silent container, a perspective that e n a b l e s the poet to m a p his d e s i r e for v i o l e n c e a n d p l e a s u r e onto the territory of the mute f e m a l e form. T h u s , a s the repository  45  for aesthetic v a l u e , the f e m a l e body represents the "aesthetics of s i l e n c e " (136). K r i s t e v a overturns this silent aesthetic by introducing the notion of a n "outlaw" aesthetics: a creative p r o c e s s that b r e a k s through the s i l e n c e of form a n d the limitation of content in the rupture a n d renewal of the s y m b o l i c . T h e maternal body is, of c o u r s e , the f e m a l e container par e x c e l l e n c e in w e s t e r n aesthetics. Y e t K r i s t e v a ' s configuration of the maternal a s a s u b v e r s i v e positioning c h a l l e n g e s the s y m b o l i c a n d d e v e l o p s a n ethics b a s e d o n the c o m p l e x negotiation of h e t e r o g e n e o u s difference within self a n d other.  Mother Matters O n e of the most controversial a s p e c t s of K r i s t e v a ' s c h o r i c formulation centres o n the role of the mother in relation to l a n g u a g e a n d representation. M a n y theorists d i s m i s s the c h o r a a s a n e s s e n t i a l confinement of the mother (and by e x t e n s i o n of w o m e n in general) to s p a c e s of non-linguistic s i l e n c e or infantile i n c o h e r e n c e . Within feminist 13  theory the maternal body is certainly a multiplicitous, c o n t e s t e d s p a c e . Y e t , a s R o s i Braidotti s u g g e s t s , [o]ne of the most a c c u r a t e w a y s of m e a s u r i n g the p r o g r e s s a c c o m p l i s h e d by feminist thought o n the f e m a l e body is to take up this "mother" metaphor. W h e r e a s in earlier feminist a n a l y s e s the "mother" a n d the "maternal function" w e r e s e e n a s potentially conflicting with the interests of " w o m a n " in s o far a s c o m p u l s o r y heterosexuality h a d m a d e t h e m the s o c i a l destiny of all w o m e n , more recent feminist readings of the maternal function h a v e s t r e s s e d the double bind of the maternal i s s u e . M o t h e r h o o d  46  is s e e n a s both o n e of the patriarchal domination of w o m e n a n d o n e of the strongholds of f e m a l e identity. (181) D o K r i s t e v a ' s writings d e s c r i b e a mother confined to the c h o r i c s p a c e with limited a c c e s s to the s y m b o l i c ? A s the site of constant struggle b e t w e e n the drives a n d their s t a s e s , the representation of a n d mediating force b e t w e e n the s e m i o t i c a n d s y m b o l i c e c o n o m i e s , a site for a unique ethics a n d a n u n c a n n y e m b o d i e d e x p e r i e n c e of the relationship b e t w e e n self a n d other that must be r e p r e s s e d , Kristeva's "mother" is certainly n u a n c e d a n d c o m p l e x , but I s u s p e c t that her confinement is s u s p e c t . F o r K r i s t e v a p r e g n a n c y a n d the semiotic rupture the linear time of the symbolic, a n d thus m o t h e r h o o d exemplifies the temporality K r i s t e v a refers to a s " w o m a n ' s time." R o s i Braidotti notes that, although w o m a n is inscribed in patriarchal culture a s n o u n , s h e is a l s o indicative of a different temporality: a d e e p e r a n d more d i s c o n t i n u o u s s e n s e of time that is the time of transformation, r e s i s t a n c e , political g e n e a l o g i e s , a n d b e c o m i n g . T h u s w e have on the o n e h a n d teleological time a n d on the other the time of c o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g : history a n d the u n c o n s c i o u s . (162) I s u g g e s t that the s a m e c a n be s a i d for motherhood, a concurrent e x i s t e n c e of self a n d other in the linear time of the s y m b o l i c a n d the "teleological time" of the semiotic. This is the reconfiguration of the maternal function from static n o u n to active verb: a d y n a m i c dialectic b e t w e e n the s i m u l t a n e o u s temporality of the c h o r a with the s y m b o l i c . T h i s is a s p a c e that incorporates both mind a n d body, nature a n d culture, in the rhythmic flux of semiotic corporeal time. In C h a p t e r two I explore Kristeva's notion of " w o m e n ' s time" in relation to the maternal a n d to abjection in more detail.  47  Maternal "authority," ethics a n d a n outlaw aesthetic are crucial to Kristeva's choric project. A s the "law before the l a w " — m o r e akin to a p r o c e s s that "orients" a n d "structures" than to a rule per s e — t h e maternal body (and p s y c h e ) "mediates the s y m b o l i c law organizing s o c i a l relations a n d b e c o m e s the ordering principle of the semiotic c h o r a " (Revolution  27). T h e ordering principle—that is, the mother—is able to  mediate b e t w e e n s y m b o l i c functions a n d the c h o r a b e c a u s e s h e b e l o n g s to a n d understands both the s y m b o l i c law a n d semiotic i m p u l s e s . T h e mother is in a unique position that allows her to r e c o g n i z e , e x p e r i e n c e a n d mediate the instability that underlies the s y m b o l i c , w h i c h h a s b e e n r e p r e s s e d by her o w n entry into paternal law. For Kristeva, then, the mother s t a n d s at the threshold of both the semiotic a n d the s y m b o l i c , but s h e is lost to and/or regulated by neither location. S h e is fully operative in l a n g u a g e (otherwise s h e could not administer order) but is a l s o c o n n e c t e d to the p h y s i c a l a n d p s y c h i c p r o c e s s e s of the future s p e a k i n g being a n d to her own p s y c h e / b o d y that e x c e e d s linguistic e x p r e s s i o n . In this s e n s e the mother is simultaneously herself a n d s o m e o n e e l s e . Y e t s h e d o e s not dwell in a state of (con)fusion with the future s p e a k i n g being, or in the myth of a maternal  jouissance  that—as pure b l i s s — c o n f i n e s her to a n o n s e n s i c a l e x i s t e n c e . K r i s t e v a u n d e r s c o r e s the difficulty of the maternal position: P r e g n a n c y is a dramatic ordeal: a splitting of the body, a division a n d c o e x i s t e n c e of self a n d other, of nature a n d a w a r e n e s s , of physiology a n d s p e e c h . T h i s fundamental c h a l l e n g e to identity is a c c o m p a n i e d by a fantasy of w h o l e n e s s of narcissistic self-containment. P r e g n a n c y is a sort of institutionalized, s o c i a l i z e d a n d natural p s y c h o s i s . (Maladies  48  219)  T h i s is a " p s y c h o s i s " that is a product of the construction of m o t h e r h o o d a s aberrant a n d abject in the s y m b o l i c a n d the u n c a n n y e x p e r i e n c e of a body that is two b o d i e s , a self that is other. K r i s t e v a explains that, "in its m a d truth, p s y c h o s i s unveils the heterogeneity of the p s y c h i c a l apparatus s u s t a i n e d a n d activated by a n outside transmuted into other a s well a s l a n g u a g e a n d constantly threatened by this s a m e outside" (Sense  59).  T o s p e a k of p r e g n a n c y a s a p s y c h o s i s , then, is not to s a y that pregnant w o m e n , mothers, or w o m e n in general are psychotic. T h e conflation of w o m e n , w o m b , n o n linguistic s o u n d a n d p s y c h o s i s a s hysteria in the m e d i c a l d i s c o u r s e s of a millennium often e r a s e s attempts to d i s t a n c e w o m e n from the confinement of a s e x e d body, and/or n e g a t e s the s u b v e r s i v e strategic s t a n c e that e m b r a c e s "insanity" in order to dismantle it a s a n o p p r e s s i v e d i s c o u r s e for w o m e n . C h a p t e r five e x p l o r e s the p e r v e r s e a n d s u b v e r s i v e deployment of hysteria, u s e d to rupture static notions of sanity a n d normalcy in the s y m b o l i c . K r i s t e v a a c k n o w l e d g e s the ambiguity of maternity a s a s i m u l t a n e o u s e x p e r i e n c e of the fusion of a s p e a k i n g being (mother) a n d a future s p e a k i n g being (child) within the recognition of the inevitability of abjection. In other w o r d s , the s p e a k i n g being (mother) must lead the future s p e a k i n g being into l a n g u a g e a n d subjectivity a n d give up a part of herself. K r i s t e v a ' s d i s c o u r s e d e s c r i b e s the d e p e n d e n c e of the s y m b o l i c upon the abjection of the mother, yet paradoxically (re)inscribes the maternal with a n authority that stands next to a n d effects paternal law. K r i s t e v a a v o w s what prevailing d i s c o u r s e s o n motherhood omit—the pain a n d puissance  of a mother's split subjectivity, the  radically ethical negotiation of h e t e r o g e n e o u s difference that is not b a s e d entirely in e g o . P a r a d o x i c a l l y , the d o u b l e n e s s of the maternal g u a r a n t e e s a d e g r e e of cooperation  49  with s y m b o l i c law a n d a s i m u l t a n e o u s c h a l l e n g e to the authority a n d a u t o n o m y of the s y m b o l i c through the operations of the semiotic (Oliver 49). K r i s t e v a writes of a mother's duality: of her e x i s t e n c e inside a n d outside l a n g u a g e . S h e r e c o g n i z e s that motherhood is a n u n c a n n y journey, o n e that will at times position her o n the e d g e of sanity but that will a l s o provide her with a unique opportunity for creative subjectivity: If maternity is to be guilt-free, this journey n e e d s to be undertaken without m a s o c h i s m a n d without annihilating o n e ' s affective, intellectual, a n d professional personality, either. In this w a y maternity b e c o m e s a true creative act, something that w e h a v e not yet b e e n a b l e to imagine. ( G u b e r m a n 220) Kristeva m a k e s it c l e a r that the s e m i o t i c — a l t h o u g h a n invisible p r o c e s s that c o n n e c t s w o m b to p s y c h e — m u s t not be r e p r e s s e d . S h e s t r e s s e s that w h e n e v i d e n c e d in the s y m b o l i c through signifying p r o c e s s e s the semiotic is not a r e g r e s s i o n to the maternal body. Rather, s h e s u g g e s t s that w e must e n d o w it with its o w n e x p r e s s i o n a n d articulation while not holding it b a c k from the sort of "symbolic" a n d more intellectual manifestation that c a n bring it into our a w a r e n e s s . In fact, all  creative  activity, if y o u want to u s e the word "creative," p r e s u p p o s e s the i m m a n e n c e of libido a n d the s y m b o l i c p r o c e s s a l o n g with their dialectilization a n d harmonization, if y o u will. ( G u b e r m a n 109) T h u s if motherhood is indeed a creative activity it d o e s not p r o d u c e a c l o n e , but rather a (re)new(ed) life:  50  Innovation is never the repetition of the paternal d i s c o u r s e or a regression to a n a r c h a i c mother. It p r e s u m e s that the subject, let's s a y a w o m a n , is a b l e to take c h a r g e of her entire a r c h a i c libidinal a p p a r a t u s (which is u n c o n s c i o u s a n d egoistic) a n d to invest it in a s y m b o l i c articulation. (Guberman109) F a r from existing in linguistic obscurity a n d n o n s e n s i c a l confinement, Kristeva's semiotic, if it is not r e p r e s s e d , is a position from w h i c h m a r g i n a l i z e d p e o p l e — t h o s e on the " e d g e " of sanity a n d n o r m a l c y — c a n articulate t h e m s e l v e s in the s y m b o l i c . W h e n the semiotic is manifest in the s y m b o l i c a s a " s o u r c e of practices"—for e x a m p l e a s a n aesthetic practice s u c h a s art, poetic l a n g u a g e a n d the m a t e r n a l — signification will lead to renewal a n d innovation, a n d a w a y from the regressive fantasy of muted bliss b e t w e e n mother a n d child.  T h e A c o u s t i c Mother K a j a S i l v e r m a n ' s reading of K r i s t e v a in The Acoustic Psychoanalysis  and Cinema  Mirror: The Female  Voice in  reduplicates the notion of the c h o r a is a regressive  silencing of w o m e n . H e r criticism of K r i s t e v a pivots on the c o n c e p t of the "maternal voice," a c o n c e p t that problematizes her reading in its literal application a n d rigid interpretation. In S i l v e r m a n there is a conflation of the "maternal v o i c e " a n d " s o n o r o u s e n v e l o p e " that s h e a n d other theorists u s e to d e s c r i b e the s o n i c environment a n d overall e c o n o m y of the w o m b . S i l v e r m a n recounts how the child's e n v e l o p m e n t in intrauterine s o u n d s h a s b e c o m e a fantasy that c o n f i n e s w o m e n to linguistic i n c o m p e t e n c e a n d interiority (often forming the b a s i s from w h i c h the f e m a l e v o i c e is presented in c l a s s i c c i n e m a ) . T h e conflation of the s o n o r o u s e n v e l o p e with the maternal  51  v o i c e , however, relies o n the mixing of a metaphor of s o n i c inferiority—that is, being inside a s o n o r o u s e n v e l o p e — w i t h a n actual exterior v o i c e related to a n infant's identification of/with the s o u n d of the mother. T h e equation of s o n o r o u s e n v e l o p e a n d maternal v o i c e r e d u c e s c o m p l e x s o n i c / a c o u s t i c conditions in utero to a single v o i c e that is unproblematically identifiable both inside a n d outside the w o m b . A s s o u n d theorist D o u g l a s K a h n explains, identifying the singularity of the maternal v o i c e in utero is unlikely: Intrauterine s o u n d itself, of c o u r s e , would relate to the v a u n t e d maternal v o i c e proffered in certain p s y c h o a n a l y t i c s c e n a r i o s . T h e s o u n d would b e a hydrologically filtered mother's v o i c e promising the bliss of undifferentiation. H o w e v e r , the mother's v o i c e in t h e s e internal matters are inexplicably privileged (fetal reading w o u l d allow r e c o u r s e to textuality). T h e r e is c l e a r e v i d e n c e that external v o i c e s , m u s i c , a n d s o u n d s a r e heard in the w o m b after a certain point of d e v e l o p m e n t a n d the newborn c a n d e v e l o p m e m o r y of t h e s e s o u n d s . M o r e o v e r , all t h e s e v o i c e s a n d s o u n d s would b e heard o n the constant b a c k d r o p of a full array of internal fluid s o u n d s , although the c o n s t a n c y of the s o u n d c o u l d not b e e q u a t e d with the s u s t a i n e d tones a n d d r o n e s , or mellifluousness a s s o c i a t e d with w o m e n a n d water. {Noise 257) T h e identification of a singular maternal v o i c e in the c h o r a is a fantasy of S i l v e r m a n ' s o w n m a k i n g . T h i s fantasy c l a i m s that the v o i c e of the mother is distinct a n d distinguishable in the w o m b . A bath of s o u n d s , however, is not equivalent to a single v o i c e . S i l v e r m a n e s s e n t i a l i z e s a n d limits the c h o r a a n d the maternal v o i c e by marking  52  the s o u n d s heard in the choric e c o n o m y a s a singular v o i c e a n d a n identifiable intrauterine sonority. A s well, S i l v e r m a n reinforces the interpretation of the maternal v o i c e in the s y m b o l i c a s " n o i s e " or "babble" by equating it with the intrauterine s o n i c environment. Her confinement of a distinct a n d literal f e m a l e v o i c e in the w o m b u n d e r s c o r e s the very notion of f e m a l e d i s c u r s i v e impotence s h e w a n t s to overthrow. If the maternal v o i c e w e r e i n d e e d distinguishable in the w o m b by the fetus, it might very well provide the u n c o n s c i o u s conditions n e c e s s a r y for the e m a n c i p a t i o n of the f e m a l e v o i c e from her s p e c u l a r i m a g e — f o r S i l v e r m a n ' s v a u n t e d " d i s e m b o d i e d v o i c e " — p r o p o s e d a s the liberating alternative to the confinement of w o m e n ' s v o i c e to w o m e n ' s body in representation. T h u s S i l v e r m a n recounts a suffocating (con)fusion b e t w e e n mother a n d child, a c l a u s t r o p h o b i c reading of Kristeva's c h o r a . S h e c o n c l u d e s that, b e c a u s e the child is e n c l o s e d in the interiority of the c h o r a a s a future s p e a k i n g being that h a s no a c c e s s to l a n g u a g e , s o the mother a l s o resides with/in interiority. H o w e v e r , a n infant's incapacity with respect to l a n g u a g e d o e s not automatically confine the mother to the s a m e infantile or pre-linguistic state. S i l v e r m a n ' s evocation of the d i s e m b o d i e d f e m a l e v o i c e a s a r e s p o n s e to the cloistered s p a c e of the c h o r a d o e s nothing more than mark the e m b o d i e d v o i c e with the s t a m p of nature, essentializing a direct relationship of v o i c e to the (female) body. Although s h e p r e s e n t s her notion of the d i s e m b o d i e d v o i c e a s the mark of culture a n d the possibility of subjectivity, the division of the v o i c e into e m b o d i e d a n d d i s e m b o d i e d states not only repeats a n d reinforces the d u a l i s m b e t w e e n nature a n d culture, but a l s o artificially s e p a r a t e s s o u n d from the c o r p o r e a l .  53  A n alternative reading of the maternal v o i c e , a s s o m e t h i n g that is neither wholly e m b o d i e d nor a s straightforwardly identifiable a s S i l v e r m a n s u p p o s e s , c h a l l e n g e s this d u a l i s m . T h e c o n c e p t of v o i c e , whether maternal, e m b o d i e d , d i s e m b o d i e d or otherwise, is in no w a y a transparent c o n c e p t ( A p p l e b a u m 48). T h e f e m a l e body, for S i l v e r m a n , is a n empty form, a container, a prison that must be e s c a p e d from in order to gain v o i c e . Her notion of the d i s e m b o d i e d v o i c e d e p e n d s upon the s o u n d l e s s e c h o e s of a n e s s e n t i a l , e m b o d i e d v o i c e that must be extracted from its c a v e r n o u s corporeal confines in order to m a k e a s o n i c impact in culture.  14  A l m o s t a s a n afterthought, S i l v e r m a n c o n c e d e s that the relationship of child to mother within the " e n c l o s u r e " of the c h o r a "provides the child with its first, inchoate i m p r e s s i o n s of s p a c e , a n d with its initial glimmerings of o t h e r n e s s , thereby paving the w a y for the mirror s t a g e a n d the entry into l a n g u a g e " (102). T h e term " e n c l o s u r e " is misleading s i n c e , a s K r i s t e v a r e c o g n i z e s , part of the function of the maternal is to lead the child toward subjectivity, a function that u n d e r s c o r e s her c o n n e c t i o n with/in the s y m b o l i c during p r e g n a n c y a n d after the child is born. In fact, it w o u l d be impossible for the mother to o c c u p y a position of c o m p l e t e exteriority to paternal law. T h e mother's operationality within the s y m b o l i c is e s s e n t i a l for her mediation b e t w e e n family a n d social structures o n the o n e hand a n d the drives on the other, o n behalf of the future s p e a k i n g b e i n g . T o reiterate a n earlier point, the mother is both the ordering principle of the Chora's drives a n d a n agent of a r e n e g a d e law through her maternal authority a n d ethics. S h e therefore o c c u p i e s a dual position, integral to the h e t e r o g e n e o u s p r o c e s s e s of signification, that d o e s not c o n d e m n her to s i l e n c e . A d r i a S c h w a r t z s u g g e s t s that "notions of d y a d s a n d triads h a v e to be substituted for the structures of mother-child, mother/father-child, that s e e m s o fundamental to the  54  h e t e r o s e x u a l family," in order to a d d r e s s the possibility of alternative families (129). Similarly, R o s i Braidotti notes that the "mother-daughter" d y a d h a s e m e r g e d in recent feminist theory, particularly in the work of L u c e Irigaray, a s a reconfiguration of female subjectivity. W h a t the mother-daughter d y a d s u g g e s t s , Braidotti e x p l a i n s , is a d y n a m i c d y a d i c relationship of f e m a l e self to f e m a l e other, " a n d c o n s e q u e n t l y the structures of f e m a l e h o m o s e x u a l i t y a s well a s the possibility of a woman-identified redefinition of the subject" (181). T h i s , s h e notes, is the construction of a "female intersubjectivity" that provides a politics for the negotiation of differences related to other a s well a s self: In a phallocentric s y s t e m w h e r e the Name-of-the F a t h e r provides the operative metaphor for the constitution of the subject, the i d e a of " a feminine s y m b o l i c function" a m o u n t s to the revindication of the structuring function for the mother. It attempts to invest the maternal site with affirmative, positive force. (181) T h e question that this configuration of f e m a l e intersubjectivity brings to mind is whether the " s e x " of the future s p e a k i n g being is a determining factor in the d y a d i c relationship between mother a n d child before entry into the s y m b o l i c . If the future s p e a k i n g being exists in a n e c o n o m y that is not yet determined by visuality is s e x a factor? Is the d y a d i c relationship Braidotti d e s c r i b e s operative b e t w e e n mother a n d child of either s e x until the s y m b o l i c determination of lack shifts the f o c u s ? I a m p r o p o s i n g , here, the view that the maternal relationship to the future s p e a k i n g being n e e d not b e interpreted a s a claustrophobic o n e , but c a n be read a s the p h e n o m e n o n of " a feminine s y m b o l i c function" a n d a n intersubjectivity b a s e d on h e t e r o g e n e o u s difference rather than the opposition m a l e / f e m a l e .  15  55  S o u n d Trouble In her provocative work Gender  Trouble:  Feminism  and the Subversion  of  Identity, Judith Butler reads the body politics of K r i s t e v a ' s c h o r a from a v a n t a g e point similar to S i l v e r m a n ' s , e c h o i n g the criticism of the semiotic a s a n essentialist portrait of the maternal body a n d a s a n unverifiable, self-defeating theory that limits the maternal to a non-differentiated, pre-cultural, pre-linguistic a n d h e n c e m e a n i n g l e s s interiority. Butler a s k s if the primary relationship to the maternal body is a viable construct or a k n o w a b l e e x p e r i e n c e : C a n the semiotic a s pre-discursive libidinal e c o n o m y p o s s e s s a n ontological status outside of l a n g u a g e ? C a n this pre-discursive e c o n o m y subvert culture? If s o , c a n a n y "real" m e a n i n g be derived from s u b v e r s i v e semiotic unintelligibility? All of t h e s e questions are rhetorical for Butler. H e r critique of the semiotic pivots on the position of the c h o r a "outside" of l a n g u a g e a n d representation. F o r Butler, Kristeva's theory of drives is s u s p e c t , b e c a u s e the drives o p e r a t e "prior" to l a n g u a g e within the libidinal e c o n o m y of the maternal body a n d " d i s o b e y " l a n g u a g e in the s y m b o l i c through poetic l a n g u a g e , g l o s s a l a l i a , psychotic d i s c o u r s e , multiple s o u n d s , a whirl of w o r d s , m e r e s o u n d , s e m a n t i c n o n c l o s u r e , a s s o n a n c e , intonation, s o u n d play, libidinal c h a o s .  1 6  S h e a r g u e s that the kinds of tropes that hover on the e d g e of linguistic  intelligibility reinforce the r e p r e s s i v e n e s s of the non-linguistic libidinal e c o n o m y b e c a u s e this e c o n o m y is in actuality generated by paternal law a n d circulated in the s y m b o l i c a s part of a d i s c o u r s e that i m p o s e s linguistic " i n c o h e r e n c e " o n "difference." F o r Butler the a s s o c i a t i o n of linguistic e x c e s s with marginalized subjects c o n d e m n s t h e m to a m e a n i n g l e s s exile outside of culture. W h i l e I d o not d i s a g r e e with Butler's argument that paternal law conflates i n c o h e r e n c e with difference a s a strategy of power, I d o contest  56  her notion that s o u n d s e x c e s s i v e to l a n g u a g e cannot be u s e d otherwise. I p r o p o s e throughout this project that linguistic " e x c e s s " c a n be utilized a s a critical m e t h o d — a tactic if y o u will—for the dismantling of h e g e m o n i c l a n g u a g e a n d m e a n i n g to generate the counterproduction of k n o w l e d g e . T h u s I d o not a g r e e that the c h o r a reinforces infantile a n d incoherent p o w e r l e s s n e s s b e c a u s e of its a s s o c i a t i o n with the n o n linguistic. T h e reconfiguration of s o u n d a n d corporeality a s h e t e r o g e n e o u s , transformational a n d motile s u b s c r i b e s to the notion that i n d e e d s o u n d d o e s matter.  17  Butler a s s e r t s that a "paternal causality under the g u i s e of a natural or distinctively maternal causality" underlies Kristeva's theory of the s e m i o t i c c h o r a , a n d that therefore her theory is ineffectual, merely p o s i n g a s a s u b v e r s i v e alternative (91). K r i s t e v a is s o m e h o w d u p e d by the law into replicating the paternal prohibition s h e intends to disrupt, b e c a u s e s h e fails to realize that the law is not only prohibitive but a l s o c a p a b l e of generating b o d i e s , d e s i r e s , g e n d e r s a n d s e x e s , all of w h i c h s e e m natural but are in fact strategically constructed a s lack to e n s u r e the "lack lack" of the self-amplified subject (90-93).  18  E a c h o n e of the i s s u e s raised by Butler regarding K r i s t e v a ' s theory of the semiotic pivots on the materiality of s o u n d , the relationship of s o u n d to the body, a n d the cultural m e a n i n g s a s c r i b e d to s o u n d a n d the body s e p a r a t e l y a n d in combination with o n e another. F o r Butler anything a s s o c i a t e d with the outside of l a n g u a g e — o u t l a w s o u n d , n o n - or pre-linguistic s t a t e s — e x i s t s with/in a n anti-linguistic illusion of e s s e n t i a l i s m . T h u s all e x p r e s s i o n s a s s o c i a t e d with a n extra-linguistic outside by K r i s t e v a — l e s b i a n i s m , non-western cultural e x p r e s s i o n s , poetic l a n g u a g e a n d maternity—are f o r e c l o s e d upon a n d m e a n i n g l e s s , a c c o r d i n g to Butler.  57  Instead s h e p r o p o s e s that the sign must be e x p a n d e d to include the linguistic outside of materiality. Butler relocates the abjected outside of culture to the inside of l a n g u a g e , a m o v e that incorporates e x c e s s into representation. A l t h o u g h this repositioning is a n attempt to disrupt the linearity that defines a "before" or a n "after" a n d w o r k s to rearticulate the sign a s all-inclusive, s h e misinterprets the positioning of the c h o r a a s simply "before" or "prior" to l a n g u a g e . Butler f o c u s e s o n K r i s t e v a ' s u s e of the terms "before," "prior" a n d "after" in relationship to extra-linguistic m o m e n t s , reading the c h o r a within a linearity that K r i s t e v a d o e s not intend. T h i s linear reading of the semiotic l e a d s to Butler's notion that the semiotic exists in opposition to the s y m b o l i c in a w a y that m i m e s the nature/culture, matter/representation, f e m i n i n e / m a s c u l i n e d u a l i s m s , s u g g e s t i n g that t h e s e d u a l i s m s are built in to Kristeva's theory. It is Butler, however, w h o writes out the p r o c e s s e s a n d practices that e n g a g e with a n d negotiate h e t e r o g e n e o u s difference with/in the n o n linear spatial a n d temporal e c o n o m y of the semiotic a n d its interaction with the s y m b o l i c : a negotiation that in relation to the maternal body a n d poetic l a n g u a g e , for e x a m p l e , effectively blurs the boundaries b e t w e e n the semiotic a n d s y m b o l i c in a n ongoing p r o c e s s of transformation a n d renewal. For Kristeva, the rupture of a n equilibrium (such a s the paternal law) creates what s h e d e s c r i b e s a s a "crisis," a productive state that g e n e r a t e s transformation. Modernity is in a state of permanent crisis in K r i s t e v a ' s a n a l y s i s , s o that the boundaries of before/prior a n d after d i s s o l v e into a constant state of functioning or flux. Kristeva questions the configuration of crisis a s catastrophe, a n d instead articulates its duality: "is crisis a suffering, is it a pathology? O r is it a creation, a r e n e w a l ? " ( G u b e r m a n 37). Butler w o u l d s e e m to affirm the former, while K r i s t e v a affirms the latter.  58  For K r i s t e v a , then, the c h a n n e l i n g of semiotic energy into a n e x p r e s s i o n of the subject in p r o c e s s / o n trial d o e s not result in the subject's r e g r e s s i o n into a preverbal state of bliss, but instead provides a n a c c e s s to the u n c o n s c i o u s store of semiotic material that will e n g a g e the subject in a h e t e r o g e n e o u s p r o c e s s that c h a l l e n g e s the limits of representation. A l t h o u g h , a s a theoretical s u p p o s i t i o n , the semiotic c h o r a is u n k n o w a b l e , it is a c o m p e l l i n g theory that d e s c r i b e s the (inter)connectedness of s o u n d , body a n d p s y c h e to the construction of k n o w l e d g e , e x p e r i e n c e a n d m e a n i n g . Kristeva articulates this i n t e r c o n n e c t e d n e s s in her description of the h e t e r o g e n e o u s p r o c e s s e s of the drives a n d their s t a s e s in the c h o r a : "[djrive facilitation, temporarily arrested, marks discontinuities  in what m a y be called various material supports  semiotization: v o i c e , gesture, colors" (28).  s u s c e p t i b l e to  19  S o u n d is o n e s u c h material support, a support that b e c o m e s evidence drives a n d their h e t e r o g e n e o u s p r o c e s s e s in the s y m b o l i c .  20  of the  E m b e d d e d in the  u n c o n s c i o u s a s well a s the c o n s c i o u s , s o u n d p o s s e s s e s a non-visual materiality that inhabits, w i t n e s s e s a n d e x c e e d s both the semiotic a n d the s y m b o l i c . S o u n d p r e c e d e s l a n g u a g e in the infant's e c h p l a l i a s ; it is part of l a n g u a g e in p h o n e m i c content, a n d e x c e e d s "normal" l a n g u a g e in poetry, m u s i c a n d n o i s e . If s o u n d inscribes the drives in a n d through the c o r p o r e a l , is this e v i d e n c e of its o w n ontology? If s o u n d p e r m e a t e s the interior s p a c e s a n d exterior s u r f a c e s of the h u m a n body, is this a materiality that s o u n d s its o w n intelligibility? D o s o n i c articulations that e n c o m p a s s the drives a n d their s t a s e s tell of the p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l continuity c o n n e c t i n g s e m i o t i c / s y m b o l i c , nature/culture, matter/sign? Butler e r a s e s s o u n d a n d its potential threat to linguistic c o h e r e n c e , a m o v e that d i s m i s s e s the substantive workings of the s o n i c in, through, a r o u n d a n d outside  59  l a n g u a g e . With this d i s m i s s a l of s o u n d ' s materiality a s "mere s o u n d , " s h e m i s s e s a n opportunity to c o n s i d e r s o u n d a s a profound a n d u n c a n n y vehicle that both e n a b l e s a n d subverts l a n g u a g e . It is the repression of the drives a n d their s o n i c e v i d e n c e in the privileging of vision a n d the construction of l a n g u a g e (even a n e x p a n d e d construction) that s i l e n c e s s o u n d a n d c o v e r s over the instability of the s y m b o l i c . Eventually, a n d at unpredictable m o m e n t s , s o u n d s that d o not m a k e " s e n s e " s u r f a c e , a s e v i d e n c e of a n invisible yet tangible (non)sense d e n i e d in l a n g u a g e a n d representation. Butler has difficulty reconciling Kristeva's c o m p l e x notion of s o u n d — a notion that r e c o g n i z e s the s i m u l t a n e o u s possibilities of a s o n i c o u t s i d e — a n d thus s h e d i s m i s s e s this outlaw s o u n d a s m e a n i n g l e s s . S h e quotes Kristeva: In K r i s t e v a ' s w o r d s , " a p h o n e m e , a s distinctive element of m e a n i n g , b e l o n g s to l a n g u a g e a s S y m b o l i c . But this s a m e p h o n e m e is involved in rhythmic, intonational repetitions; it thereby tends toward autonomy from m e a n i n g s o a s to maintain itself in a semiotic disposition near the instinctual drive's body." (82) T h e p h o n e m e cannot be multiplicitous or h e t e r o g e n e o u s for Butler; it is singular, linear a n d static. D i s m i s s i n g the polyphony of the p h o n e m e , a s Butler d o e s , r e d u c e s its s o n i c s u b s t a n c e to the s i l e n c e of the s i g n — a d i s m i s s a l that refuses to hear the materiality of s o u n d a n d the variability of matter—and e m b r a c e s the visible a n d the tangible. With this gesture Butler e c h o e s S a u s s u r e ' s e r a s u r e of s o u n d a n d denial of its relationship to the body, w h e n he writes that the linguistic signifier "is not phonic but incorporeal—constituted not by its material s u b s t a n c e but by the differences that s e p a r a t e its s o u n d - i m a g e from all others" (Kirby 5 4 ) .  60  21  T h e notion that l a n g u a g e , indeed all s o u n d , "must be m a d e s o u n d l e s s " is a n effort to g a i n control of c o r p o r e a l materiality, d e n y i n g the vulnerability of s p e e c h a n d the relationship of s p e e c h to the body that the sign d i s a v o w s . T h i s m o v e f o r e c l o s e s the possibility of a s o u n d i n g materiality in e x c e s s of l a n g u a g e a n d representation. T h e mastery a n d c o n s c i o u s control of the v o c a l musculature a n d n e r v e s in s p e e c h m a y indeed demonstrate the subject's temporary control over the body, but it a l s o hides the p r e c a r i o u s n e s s a n d instability of that control ( A p p l e b a u m xi; 47). T h e physicality of s p e e c h — e n g a g i n g m u s c l e s , lips, glottis, p a l e t t e — d i s m i s s e d by Butler a s the "mere" m e c h a n i c s of "mere" s o u n d is the denial a n d e r a s u r e of a very real threat to authorized intelligibility: Sanity lives or dies with the fragile control exerted cognitively over the o r g a n s of s p e e c h . T h e brutishly m i s s h a p e n p h o n e m e — t h e grotesquery of s o u n d — i s ever ready to v a n q u i s h the noble spirit of the s p o k e n word in the heat of p a s s i o n , the nightmare, p h y s i c a l illness a n d torture, a n d acute sufferings. ( A p p l e b a u m 46) For Butler, the grotesquery of s o u n d exists in the e c o n o m y of the c h o r a , in the n o n linguistic c o m m u n i c a t i o n b e t w e e n mother a n d child, in the strategic e m b r a c i n g of hysteria, in the rumblings of marginalized p e o p l e . H e r equation of s o n i c e x c e s s with e s s e n t i a l i s m a n d m e a n i n g l e s s n e s s s i l e n c e s the creative c a c o p h o n y of a n intelligibility that exists b e y o n d l a n g u a g e . H e r critique of K r i s t e v a e n c a s e s matter, body a n d s o u n d in l a n g u a g e , d i s a v o w i n g the fragility of linguistic c o h e r e n c e a n d the rigidity of the symbolic. H o w c a n the sign be e x p a n d e d to include matter w h e n it d i s a v o w s s o u n d ? Is it i m p o s s i b l e to c o n c e i v e of a n invisible, polyvalent, s o u n d i n g materiality that exists in the e x c e s s e s of l a n g u a g e ?  61  Matter Matters V i c k i Kirby takes up the i s s u e of matter a n d its e x c e s s in a c o m p r e h e n s i v e a n d provocative a n a l y s i s of Butler's Bodies Gender  Trouble,  that Matter. A s a n e x t e n s i o n of her work in  Butler's more f o c u s e d attempt to rearticulate the sign to include  matter—"to return to matter requires that w e return to matter a s a s i g n " (49)—is, from Kirby's perspective, a n attempt to rearticulate a difference that is not b a s e d on a b s e n c e . In the more recent text Butler reconfigures difference a s a powerful force that dismantles the notion of the coherent or "normal" subject. Kirby's reading p r o p o s e s , however, that Butler's ability to stretch the sign to include matter is problematized by its o w n limitations. Butler a r g u e s that matter a s sign is matter that exists only in relation to linguistics, s o that matter is "materialized" in a n d through l a n g u a g e , a reiteration of the d i s c u s s i o n a b o v e . T h e strengths a n d limitations of Butler's argument are outlined in great detail in Kirby's book a n d , rather than repeat them here, I will d i s c u s s a s p e c t s of Kirby's observations that h a v e a particular relevance to the exploration of the materiality of s o u n d , the body a s fluid s u b s t a n c e , a n d the implications of the inseparability of s o u n d a n d the c o r p o r e a l . A c c o r d i n g to Kirby's a n a l y s i s , Butler's attempt to eliminate the limit—that is, the g a p b e t w e e n b o d y / l a n g u a g e — i s only partially s u c c e s s f u l . T h e limit is not entirely expelled from Butler's configuration, but repositioned in a w a y that substitutes the n o n linguistic body for the limit, a m o v e that c o u l d be p e r h a p s v i s u a l i z e d a s / b o d y l a n g u a g e . F o r Butler, that w h i c h remains outside of l a n g u a g e a n d representation is the biological body. In her configuration the body a s biology c a n still only b e activated through l a n g u a g e in a performative s e n s e . Kirby s u g g e s t s that the possibility of the e x i s t e n c e of the body prior to l a n g u a g e b e c o m e s a stumbling block for Butler:  62  a r g u m e n t s that a d d r e s s the limits of representation [...]  locate t h e m s e l v e s  within the hermeneutic m a z e of l a n g u a g e a n d representation that is r e g a r d e d a s s e p a r a b l e from 'something' that preexists h u m a n n e s s , ' s o m e t h i n g ' that lacks l a n g u a g e . (Kirby 110) In other w o r d s , the point at which l a n g u a g e a n d matter are s e p a r a b l e p r o d u c e s the threshold of intelligibility. Anything located (by language) b e y o n d this threshold is a s s u m e d to be unintelligible, m e a n i n g l e s s a n d mute. T h i s m o d e l of l a n g u a g e relies on a linear temporality that reads the proto-linguistic a s a b s e n c e a n d d e n i e s the spatial a n d temporal flux of h e t e r o g e n e o u s difference that ruptures l a n g u a g e . Kirby c o n c l u d e s that Butler's attempt to eliminate a difference that relies o n a b s e n c e is u n s u c c e s s f u l . A s "brute fact" the biological body is not v i e w e d a s a n intelligible body. C o r p o r e a l s o u n d s a n d g e s t u r e s a s s u m e a facticity that is v i e w e d a s i n c o n s e q u e n t i a l to b e i n g , a s p a c e in w h i c h the body o c c u p i e s a mute a n d s p a s t i c e x i s t e n c e outside of l a n g u a g e . Still a n d silent, w e are left to a s k what might be the p l a c e of the s o u n d i n g , gesturing b o d y ? Kirby b e g i n s to a d d r e s s this question in her reconceptualization of matter-asp a s s i v e to s u b s t a n c e - a s - g e n e r a t i v e force. S h e e x p l a i n s that "the p h y s i c a l world is not e x c l u d e d from the c o n u n d r u m of identity that Butler attributes only to l a n g u a g e " a n d raises the possibility that matter "materializes" itself (113). Kirby's argument relies on a quantum rather than a n atomic configuration of matter, s p a c e a n d time, configurations w h i c h e c h o K r i s t e v a ' s theories of materiality a n d textuality. Kirby's thesis that matter has its o w n h e t e r o g e n e o u s "identity" presents a n interesting twist that turns the sign u p s i d e d o w n by p r o p o s i n g that representation is " a material e x p r e s s i o n through a n d through": O u r attempt to rethink corporeality in a w a y that w r e s t s it from the role of d u m b a n d p a s s i v e container will n e e d to grant that the body is already a  63  field of information, a tissue of scriptural a n d representational complexity w h e r e d e c e p t i o n s , misrecognitions, a n d ambiguities constitute the virtual logic of bio-logy. [...]  T h e r e never w a s a n u n m e d i a t e d integrity  before  difference. Instead of mind and body, the conjunction that a s s u m e s that difference h a p p e n s at one interface, between  entities, w e might think the  body a s myriad interfacings, infinite partitionings—as a field of transformational, regenerative splittings, a n d differings that are never not p e n s i v e . (148) Kirby d e m o n s t r a t e s Butler's important intervention in e x p o s i n g the limit of the sign a n d her equally important e x p a n s i o n of the sign to include matter, but s h e convincingly a r g u e s that this m o v e is unable to recuperate the s u b s t a n c e that e x c e e d s l a n g u a g e for the sign.  T h e Laughter of the Text A l t h o u g h the de facto interpretation of the c h o r a — a s a n essentialist theory of the primordial state of bliss b e t w e e n mother a n d child that p r e c e d e s difference a n d l a n g u a g e — c i r c u l a t e s within certain feminist theoretical enterprises, a careful reading of K r i s t e v a disputes the notion that the e c o n o m y of the c h o r a is o n e of profound passivity a n d s a m e n e s s . H e t e r o g e n e o u s difference is foundational to the c h o r a a n d is e v i d e n c e d in the d y n a m i c interaction of the semiotic a n d the s y m b o l i c : a n interplay w h i c h neither acts upon nor rests in a n y o n e p l a c e , but continually oscillates in, through, a n d around both. Kristeva's notion of materiality p r e s u m e s the motility of difference, or a s s h e d e s c r i b e s it, "the discontinuity of real objects," s u c h that "[mjaterial discontinuity is in fact both continuous a n d discontinuous, but q u a n t u m rather than atomic, b e c a u s e  64  drives p a s s through the body a s well a s the surrounding natural a n d s o c i a l configuration" (Revolution  100; 99). T h i s (dis)continuity is a generative force, o n e that  renders matter a n d the u n c o n s c i o u s c a p a b l e of e x c e e d i n g the s i g n . A l t h o u g h the s y m b o l i c attempts to pacify a n d contain the activity of material discontinuity through the imposition of form in l a n g u a g e a n d representation, matter c a n n o t be entirely c o n t a i n e d , tranquilized and/or s i l e n c e d . Within the s y m b o l i c e c o n o m y , r e p r e s s e d drives (re)surface to rupture the temporal a n d spatial c o h e r e n c e of m e a n i n g , (re)constituting m e a n i n g with/in the fluidity of a n active materiality that references r e p r e s s e d u n c o n s c i o u s drives. Matter, a c c o r d i n g to Kristeva, regenerates a n d e x c e e d s the s i g n . T h e h u m a n body implicated in this polyvalent p r o c e s s is a l s o v i e w e d by K r i s t e v a a s " a plural totality" (Revolution  101). S h e d e s c r i b e s the body itself a s being in  p r o c e s s / o n trial, s o that it is articulated in the heterogeneity of the signifying practice. A s the interplay of both culture a n d materiality the body is e n g a g e d in a n instinctual, material a n d s o c i a l non-linear p r a c t i c e - p r o c e s s . A n d although the body is c o e x t e n s i v e with l a n g u a g e in o n e f o r m / s u b s t a n c e or another, it is neither defined nor confined by linguistic limits. T h i s reading of Kristeva's semiotic activates the b o d y a s a generative field of difference, a biology that "is volatile, a mutable intertexture, the stuff that informs our interventions" (Kirby 78). F o r K r i s t e v a the e c o n o m y of motile difference defines "text." S h e tells us that the workings of the text rely on difference—an "instinctual binomial c o n s i s t i n g ] of two o p p o s i n g terms that alternate in a n e n d l e s s rhythm"—created by e n e r g i e s that are never static but a l w a y s implicated in o n e another in the e n d l e s s flux of the semiotic. " T h e entire gamut of partial drives is triggered within the chora underlying the text, e n d l e s s l y "swallowing'Vrejecting, appropriating/expelling, inside/outside" (Revolution  65  99).  T h e c h o r a c o n f o u n d s origins in its active e n g a g e m e n t of material discontinuities, a n e n g a g e m e n t that interweaves c h o r a a n d text in a non-linear rhythmic a n d intonational (re)presentation in/of s p a c e a n d time. T h u s the text is, in K r i s t e v a ' s w o r d s , simultaneously posited a n d p a s s e d through by a rhythm that affirms a n d e x c e e d s its o w n limits. T h e text in p r o c e s s / o n trial exists within the rhythm of the c h a n g i n g s a m e .  2 2  For K r i s t e v a text/body/sound/matter is a m u s i c a l p r o c e s s and a practice: a c o m p l e x intertext of form a n d content that is subject to e n d l e s s transformations. In a n interview with Margaret Waller, initially published in Intertextuality and  Contemporary  American Fiction, K r i s t e v a d e s c r i b e s her notion of intertextuality a s the performance of a "plurality of phonic, syntactic, a n d s e m a n t i c participation," o n e that w o r k s formally a s well a s intrapsychically ( G u b e r m a n 1 8 9 ) . K r i s t e v a o b s e r v e s that the text must not only "reconcile representation, the imposition of content, with the play of form," but utilize strategies of intertextuality to generate "an interplay of contents a n d not form alone" ( G u b e r m a n 191). T h i s is the practice of the text: In this w a y s u c h a practice takes o n m e a n i n g s that c o m e under laws a n d subjects c a p a b l e of thinking t h e m ; but it d o e s not stop there or h y p o s t a s i z e them; it p a s s e s b e y o n d , questioning, transforming them. T h e subject a n d m e a n i n g a r e only p h a s e s of s u c h a practice, w h i c h d o e s not reject narrative, m e t a l a n g u a g e or theory. It a d o p t s t h e m but then p u s h e s t h e m a s i d e a s the m e r e scaffolds of the p r o c e s s , e x p o s i n g their productive eruption within the h e t e r o g e n e o u s field of s o c i a l practices. (Revolution 101) F o r Kristeva, laughter is located precisely at the juncture w h e r e the semiotic a n d s y m b o l i c jostle o n e another to p r o d u c e the text. W h e n laughter defies e g o ' s gravity, it  66  must a l s o be invested with e g o , to e n s u r e the s i m u l t a n e o u s r e l e a s e a n d binding of e n e r g i e s . T h i s p a r a d o x i c a l duality of laughter m a k e s it more than the m e r e effluvium of s o u n d , the c a p r i c i o u s utterance of bliss, the m i n d l e s s e x p r e s s i o n of nothingness. Laughter u n l e a s h e s the v i o l e n c e of the drives to shatter the c o h e r e n c e of the s y m b o l i c a n d the subject w h o laughs. In this w a y , laughter attests to the p o w e r of the maternal, the u n c o n s c i o u s , the text a n d the artistic p r o c e s s : philobatic activities that e n g a g e the p a r a d o x of "being oneself a n d s o m e o n e e l s e at o n e a n d the s a m e time"  (Revolution  223-225). B o r n of p l e a s u r e a n d trauma, the " m u s i c a l " r e l e a s e of drive in the intonation a n d rhythm of laughter is a creative force: T h e practice of the text is a kind of laughter w h o s e e x p l o s i o n s are those of l a n g u a g e . T h e p l e a s u r e obtained from the lifting of inhibitions is immediately invested in the production of the n e w . E v e r y practice which p r o d u c e s something n e w (a n e w device) is a practice of laughter: it o b e y s laughter's logic a n d provides the subject with laughter's a d v a n t a g e s . (Revolution  225)  In the blurring of temporal a n d spatial b o u n d a r i e s , the laughter of the c h o r a — a n d the text for that "matter"—confounds the notions of discrete c o r p o r e a l interior/exterior b o u n d a r i e s , a s well a s the simplistic one-to-one relationship a s s u m e d to exist b e t w e e n bodies. If the material body is a l w a y s / a l r e a d y a c o m p l e x interweave of semiotic e n e r g i e s a n d s y m b o l i c s t a s e s , there c a n be no straightforward s e p a r a t i o n of bodily s u b s t a n c e s within the body and/or from body to body. D o w e s p e a k to e a c h other invisibly, in the substantive laughter of e n e r g i e s ? D o w e flow with/in e a c h other's s u b s t a n c e s ? D o w e resonate with e a c h other's s o n i c flux? If laughter is, a s d i s - e a s e ,  67  c o n t a g i o u s , but a l s o a d v o c a t e d a s the best medicine, it is p e r h a p s a discomfort a n d a remedy that, if unable to cure us, might at least offer a sigh of relief.  68  Notes  1  Julia Kristeva, Desire in Language 283.  2  Donna Haraway, Modest_Witness @ Second_Millenium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse 182.  3  Mary Poppins. Music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, directed by  Robert Stevenson, 139 minutes, Walt Disney Productions, videocassette, 1964. 4  David Applebaum, 'The Laugh." Voice 18.  5  This observation is reminiscent of the workings of the noun/verb distinction discussed in the  introduction. In Chapter five the philobat appears as the perverse hysteric, a nomadic wanderer, a female  6  improviser. Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics. Eds. C. Bally and A. Sechehaye with A.  7  Reidlinger. Trans. N. Baskin. (Suffolk: Fontana Collins, 1974). Quoted in Kirby, Telling Flesh 54. Ferdinand de Saussure, Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. (New York:  8  Philosophical Library, 1959): 118-119. Quoted in Applebaum, Voice 47. The "grain of the voice" can be described succinctly as the materiality of the encounter of  9  language and music. Roland Barthes, 'The grain of the voice." Image, Music, Text 179-189. 10  1 have borrowed this idea from Kirby, a term she in turn borrows from Paul Valery to introduce  the "paradoxical nature of embodiment." Kirby, Telling Flesh 65. 11  "Unstructred soma" is Elizabeth Bronfen's term. The Knotted Subject: Hysteria and its  Discontents 190.  69  12  Kristeva explains the subject in process/on trial "We shall see that when the speaking subject  is no longer considered a phenomenological transcendental ego nor the Cartesian ego but rather a subject in process/oh trial, as is the case in the practice of the text, deep structure or at least transformational rules are disturbed and, with them, the possibility of semantic and/or grammatical categorical interpretation." Revolution in Poetic Language 37. 1 3  Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, 79-93; Judith Butler,  Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex"41; 64-71; Kaja Silverman, The Acoustic Mirror: Female Voice in Psychoanalysis and Cinema 101-140. 14  Thanks to Cate Poynton for questioning the viability of the disembodied voice.  15  In Chapter four I contest Silverman's notions of the acoustic mirror and the exchangeability of  voice between mother/child in an effort to reclaim the embodied voice and the sounds that exceed language, such as babble and the cry, as expressive modalities. 16  Judith Butler scatters these sonic tropes through her text Gender Trouble 81 -89.  17  See Chapter five for a more detailed exploration of the use of sounds of hysteria and otherness  as viable strategies for articulating political change. 18  "Lack lack" is a term coined by Helene Cixous. 'The Laugh of the Medusa" 245-64.  19  Kristeva may be referring here to a kind of synesthesia which is described as "a phenomenon  in which sensations of two or more modalities accompany one another, as when a visual sensation is experienced when a particular sound is heard. Also called secondary sensation." Mosby's Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary. (Edition 5,1998): 87 E8. Online, www.ubclib.ca. April 20, 2001. 20  1 am not claiming here that sound is the only evidence of the drives.  70  2 1  Ferdinand de Saussure,  Course in General Linguistics.  Eds. C. Bally and A. Sechehaye with A.  Reidlinger. Trans. W. Baskin. (Suffolk: Fontana Collins, 1974): 118-119. Quoted in Kirby 54. 2 2  The notions of the "changing same" and "repetition with a quality of difference" will be  addressed in Chapter two.  71  Chapter 2 M u s i c is a S c r u b w o m a n : T h e S o n i c Abject S o u n d is regarded a s a m e a n s of purification a s well a s pollution —Anne Carson  1  M u s i c is a s c r u b w o m a n , clearing a w a y the dirt a n d grime — D u k e Ellington  2  S o u n d is abject. P o s s e s s i n g u n c a n n y materiality, uncontrollable fluidity, the capacity to disrupt a n d c o n f o u n d , the ability to t r a n s g r e s s the limits of inside/outside, s o u n d is "what disturbs identity, s y s t e m , order. W h a t d o e s not respect borders, positions, rules. T h e in-between, the a m b i g u o u s , the c o m p o s i t e " (Kristeva Powers  4).  3  S o u n d , like the abject, signals the instability of subjectivity. It c r e a t e s a disturbance within the s y m b o l i c subject that p r o d u c e s a n extremely strong feeling that is at o n c e s o m a t i c a n d s y m b o l i c , which is a b o v e all a revolt against a n external m e n a c e from w h i c h o n e wants to d i s t a n c e oneself, but of w h i c h o n e h a s the i m p r e s s i o n that it m a y m e n a c e us from the inside. ( G u b e r m a n 118) A k i n to dirt or pollution, s o u n d resonates at the threshold of m e a n i n g threatening to contaminate a n y a n d all proximate s u b s t a n c e s . S o u n d m e n a c e s the s y m b o l i c , interrupts stasis a n d disrupts equilibrium; a s the intrusive abject it is "matter that h a s c r o s s e d a boundary it ought not to h a v e c r o s s e d . "  4  72  T h e Abject In Powers of Horror J u l i a K r i s t e v a e x p l o r e s the construction of the b o d y within the limits of s o c i a l a n d cultural expectations by probing into the abject s i d e of l a n g u a g e a n d e x i s t e n c e . A s s h e consistently indicates in her work, the construction of rigid s y m b o l i c b o u n d a r i e s a n d the constitution of the c l e a n a n d proper b o d y must attend to the heterogeneity of the abject in a n effort to monitor vigilantly the potential d a n g e r s it p o s e s to the s y m b o l i c order. I a r g u e in this c h a p t e r that abject s o u n d p o s e s a similar kind of threat. For K r i s t e v a the choric e c o n o m y is foundational to the abject. A l t h o u g h abjection d o e s not exist in the c h o r a perse,  it is prefigured in its a r c h a i c e c o n o m y through the  workings of rejection, separation a n d repetition of the drives. W h e n the subject enters into the s y m b o l i c the abject s u r f a c e s a s a remnant of a r c h a i c functions, functions a s s o c i a t e d with the non-linguistic body a n d the maternal e c o n o m y . T h e identification of the abject with the c h o r a n a m e s the s u b s t a n c e s a s s o c i a t e d with the semiotic a n d the arbiter of that e c o n o m y a s abject. T h e maternal authority that m a p s the self's c l e a n a n d proper b o d y is c o n s i d e r e d a n integral part of the abject. A s "neither sign nor matter" but "the translinguistic s p o o r of the most a r c h a i c b o u n d a r i e s of the self's c l e a n a n d proper body," the abject maternal is a sign of the corruption a n d defilement of the c o r p o r e a l (73). T h e d a n g e r s of the maternal a n d of the defilement with w h i c h it is a s s o c i a t e d are markers of the u n c a n n y ability of semiotic matter to call all s y m b o l i c b o u n d a r i e s into question. Defilement jettisoned from the body reminds us that a maternal authority p r e s i d e d o v e r the semiotic a n d h a s led us, awkwardly s t a m m e r i n g , toward l a n g u a g e .  5  T h i s dirt, this s o n i c instability, w h i s p e r s of a time that p r e c e d e s linguistic a n d corporeal  73  control, before the defining m o m e n t s of s y m b o l i c subjectivity w e r e instituted. Abject defilement u n d e r s c o r e s the fragility of the s y m b o l i c in relation to the body a n d the limits of l a n g u a g e . T h u s the o n e w h o carries out the maternal f u n c t i o n — w h o r e m i n d s us of our u n e a s y journey toward l a n g u a g e — m u s t be r e p r e s s e d a n d rejected, to g u a r a n t e e a n d solidify the subject's linguistic a n d corporeal mastery. T h e maternal is n a m e d a s "other" a n d c o n n e c t i o n s to the semiotic body a n d its choric functions are s e v e r e d to facilitate entry into the paternal law. In order for the future s p e a k i n g b e i n g to b e c o m e a s p e a k i n g being in the s y m b o l i c , the maternal must be abjected (5). Throughout the c o u r s e of the subject's life, abjection a r i s e s w h e n the boundaries defined by the e x p u l s i o n of the maternal b e c o m e c o n f u s e d , d i s l o c a t e d , u n s p e a k a b l e . T h e borderline, inaugurated by a surreptitious resurfacing of the abject confronts the subject a g a i n a n d a g a i n with a s p e c t s of the semiotic. W h i l e l a n g u a g e allows the subject to articulate the difference that constructs the s y m b o l i c (that is, mother) a s well a s to p r o n o u n c e the c l e a n a n d proper corporeal b o u n d a r i e s inscribed by the s y m b o l i c , the subject is left s p e e c h l e s s w h e n f a c e d with a n abject that defies this difference a n d disturbs e s t a b l i s h e d b o u n d a r i e s . T h e subject's limits—"[determined by the phonological a n d s e m a n t i c differences that articulate the syntax of l a n g u a g e " — b e c o m e c o n f u s e d w h e n the abject s o u n d s a c r o s s or apart from the linguistic p a r a m e t e r s of the s y m b o l i c (69). T h e abject d o e s not simply v a n i s h upon entry into the s y m b o l i c o n c e l a n g u a g e is a c q u i r e d , but continually r e s u r f a c e s in different g u i s e s to confront a n d disrupt the c l e a n a n d proper with its unpredictable, h e t e r o g e n e o u s inscriptions of libidinal drives. A s K r i s t e v a s u g g e s t s , the abject initiates a spatial disruption that is indicative of the fluidity  74  of being, c a u s i n g the subject to a s k the disconcerting spatial q u e s t i o n , " W h e r e a m I?" in lieu of the more c o m m o n question of identity, " W h o a m I?" (8). W h a t w a s o n c e believed to be the solid, m a p p a b l e ground of identity b e c o m e s the h e t e r o g e n e o u s , a m b i g u o u s a n d shifting territory of the body's terrain, inside a n d out. Abjection brings the subject b a c k to the "unstructured s o m a " confronting subjectivity with residuals of the libidinal drives that h a v e b e e n stored in the u n c o n s c i o u s a n d r e p r e s s e d . T h e s e drives consist of both t r a u m a a n d p l e a s u r e that defy l a n g u a g e a n d s y m b o l i c difference, a n d a s s u c h they exist at the threshold of subjectivity, the p l a c e w h e r e the b r e a k d o w n of the signifier o c c u r s "to the point of d e s e m a n t i z a t i o n , to the point of reverberating only a s notes, m u s i c , "pure signifier" to be reparcelled out a n d r e s e m a n t i c i z e d a n e w " (49). T h u s abjection (re)sounds s o n i c borderline states in the s y m b o l i c : a m b i g u o u s s o u n d i n g s situated at the threshold of c o n s c i o u s / u n c o n s c i o u s , inside/outside dualities. B e c a u s e the s o n i c s p a c e that exists anterior to l a n g u a g e d o e s not differentiate between inside a n d outside, p l e a s u r e a n d pain, the border remains u n n a m a b l e until l a n g u a g e is introduced a n d difference is identified in the figure of the abject maternal. At the borderline the abject disturbs s y m b o l i c s p e e c h a n d o p e n s l a n g u a g e to s o u n d that recalls the drives of the non-linguistic c h o r a . A s residual reverberation, abject s o u n d is heard a s s o m e t h i n g disgusting, a n u n n a m a b l e contagion, a n u n s p e a k a b l e remainder a n d a threat to identity that g e n e r a t e s a n u n c a n n y disorientation. G l o s s i n g anthropologist M a r y D o u g l a s , K r i s t e v a writes: filth is not a quality in itself, but it a p p l i e s only to what relates to a b o u n d a r y a n d , more particularly, represents the object jettisoned out of that boundary, its other side, a margin. (69)  75  It is the s y m b o l i c prohibition p l a c e d o n the abject, then, that d e s i g n a t e s it a s a powerful a n d potentially d a n g e r o u s force (69).  W o m a n . Abjection. S o u n d A s l i p p a g e o c c u r s b e t w e e n the abjection of the maternal function, n e c e s s a r y to facilitate the subject's entry into the s y m b o l i c , a n d the s u b s e q u e n t abjection of the w o m a n w h o is mother on the b a s i s of her s e x u a l difference or "lack." T h i s s l i p p a g e is further c o m p o u n d e d by the elision of abject f e m a l e s e x u a l difference with the g e n d e r e d difference identified in the s y m b o l i c a s the feminine, a difference that must a l s o be abjected b e c a u s e of its a s s o c i a t i o n with the mother a n d the maternal function. Ideologically filtered through paternal law, the d e s i g n a t i o n s maternal/mother/woman/feminine b e c o m e s y n o n y m o u s with o n e another in the s y m b o l i c , a multiplicity that is distilled into a singular a n d monolithic identity—the noun " W o m a n . " R o s i Braidotti a r g u e s , following T e r e s a d e Lauretis, that "all w o m e n are implicated in the confrontation with a certain i m a g e of ' W o m a n ' that is the culturally dominant m o d e l for f e m a l e identity." It is thus crucial to r e c o g n i z e "an 'essential difference' b e t w e e n w o m a n a s representation ( ' W o m a n ' a s cultural imago) a n d w o m a n a s e x p e r i e n c e (real w o m e n a s a g e n t s of c h a n g e ) , " in order to disrupt the singularity of this universal W o m a n a n d to e n s u r e that S h e d o e s not remain "the culturally dominant a n d prescriptive m o d e l for female subjectivity" (Braidotti 164). A s d i s c u s s e d in the introduction, W o m a n a s noun is static, while w o m a n a s verb is a n active agent of c h a n g e a n d transformation. Patriarchal culture, however, identifies the abject a n d its c a p a c i t y for d a n g e r a s the "universal" noun W o m a n . S h e represents all of the nefarious characteristics  76  a s s o c i a t e d with the abject s u c h a s dirt, pollution a n d c o n t a g i o n . T h e correlation in patriarchal cultures b e t w e e n defilement a n d W o m a n is constructed within a n oppositional hierarchy that g e n d e r s purity a n d power a s m a s c u l i n e o n the b a s i s of s e x u a l difference. W o m a n b e c o m e s a sign for a n evil, uncontrollable abject virus that threatens the health of M a n , a n affliction against w h i c h he must b e i m m u n i z e d in order for the d i s e a s e to be s u p p r e s s e d . T h i s observation r e s o n a t e s in A n n e C a r s o n ' s e s s a y , "Putting H e r in H e r P l a c e : W o m a n , Dirt, a n d D e s i r e . " C a r s o n s u g g e s t s that s o c i e t i e s f o u n d e d o n a rigid s e n s e of order a n d authority generally fear anything or a n y o n e that threatens to t r a n s g r e s s e s t a b l i s h e d b o u n d a r i e s , e x e r c i s i n g rigorous controls o n individuals or situations that c o n f o u n d p r e s c r i b e d s o c i a l limits (135). S h e o b s e r v e s that in ancient s o c i e t i e s — a s in current w e s t e r n p a t r i a r c h y — W o m a n p o s e d this threat. Existing outside the realm of propriety, the body of W o m a n m e n a c e s the hygienic, moral a n d p h y s i c a l s t a n d a r d s defined by the "normal" body of M a n . F e a r of her s e r o u s nature a n d her ability to contaminate finds its origins in the a s s o c i a t i o n of the f e m a l e body with a wet permeability that is s e e n in opposition to the dry, a n d by implication hard, m a l e body: "[pjartly by virtue of her innate w e t n e s s , w o m a n is more subject than m a n to liquefying a s s a u l t s upon body a n d mind, e s p e c i a l l y those of emotion" (138). T h e representation of W o m a n a s the e s s e n c e of moral corruption a n d emotional instability u n d e r s c o r e s her c o n n e c t i o n to c h a o s a n d explains her apparently uncontrollable i m p u l s e s . B y implication, then, W o m a n ' s fluid quotient ties her to the fecundity a n d c h a o s of nature: "[ujnited by a vital liquidity with the elemental world, w o m a n is able to tap the inexhaustible reservoirs of nature's procreative power" (143). C a r s o n reminds us that Plato, (in Timeus),  a s c r i b e d to the notion of the f o r m l e s s n e s s of W o m a n by identifying  77  her liquescent quality with the maternal receptacle. S e t apart from the creative mind of M a n , W o m a n ' s creativity is completely c o r p o r e a l , residing in the fluid depths of the p a s s i v e , f o r m l e s s , choric container. A s I a r g u e d in C h a p t e r o n e , K r i s t e v a productively reclaims the fluidity a n d the active creativity of the maternal, in her reconfiguration of the c h o r a a s a fundamental c o m p o n e n t of the signifying p r o c e s s in the s y m b o l i c . Kristeva a r g u e s that the constant resurfacing of the c h o r a in the s y m b o l i c is integral to the p r o c e s s of subjectivity, a n active resurfacing of the semiotic that d o e s not c a u s e the subject to retreat into a state of pre-objectival bliss. S o u n d s h a r e s m a n y of t h e s e liquid qualities a s s o c i a t e d with abject W o m a n . A n a l o g o u s to the polluting a s p e c t s of bodily fluids—"[b]ody fluids flow, they s e e p , they infiltrate; their control is a matter of vigilance, never g u a r a n t e e d " — s o u n d flows uncontrollably within, b e t w e e n , over a n d through b o d i e s ( G r o s z 194). S o u n d d e c l a r e s the b o d y ' s permeability in its defiance of the b o u n d a r i e s that s e p a r a t e inside from outside. In its "refusal to conform to the laws governing the c l e a n a n d proper, the solid a n d the self-identical, its o t h e r n e s s to the notion of a n entity," the insidious, seductive a n d insurgent qualities of s o u n d c o i n c i d e with the abject, fluid qualities attributed to W o m a n ( G r o s z 195). T h e invisibility of s o u n d a d d s a particularly sinister d i m e n s i o n to its abject status, a s it dissipates more quickly than liquid a n d d i s p e r s e s without a trace. S o u n d h a s neither viscosity nor a visible flow that w e c a n point to a n d n a m e a s impure. Y e t s o u n d s e e p s , flows, vibrates, r e s o n a t e s , offends, threatens, a n d paradoxically (as with all abject s u b s t a n c e s ) it a l s o brings fascination a n d p l e a s u r e . C a r s o n points out that the uncontrollable, liquid e s s e n c e of abject W o m a n is elided with s o u n d in patriarchal culture, rendering the actual s o u n d s that e m a n a t e from the s e x e d f e m a l e body a s abject:  78  W o m a n is that creature w h o puts the inside o n the outside. B y projections a n d l e a k a g e s of all k i n d s — s o m a t i c , v o c a l , e m o t i o n a l , s e x u a l — f e m a l e s e x p o s e or e x p e n d what s h o u l d be kept in. F e m a l e s blurt out a direct translation of what s h o u l d be formulated indirectly. ( " S o u n d " 71) In other w o r d s , a s o u n d i n g w o m a n is like a leaky container. H e r b o u n d a r i e s are porous a n d penetrable. S h e emits a disorderly a n d uncontrolled outflow of s o u n d that is generally a s s o c i a t e d with non-linguistic, m e a n i n g l e s s " n o i s e . " T h e s o u n d W o m a n m a k e s h a s a s o n i c fluidity that contains a licentious sexuality a n d a hint of hysteria; s h e cries out of/for control of her corporeal a n d s o n i c i m p u l s e s . W h e n s h e s o u n d s s h e is u n s o u n d , e a c h inflection a s o n i c toxin. A s the ineffable W o m a n , s o u n d is the noisy, inarticulate, abject.  Abject S a c r i f i c e A s C a r s o n s u g g e s t s , the noise W o m a n m a k e s is linked to a n entire history of f e m a l e ritualized banter: the cries of p l e a s u r e a n d pain, the j o k e s , insults a n d o b s c e n i t i e s , indecent l a n g u a g e , b l a s p h e m i e s , shrieking a n d laughter s o u n d e d during w o m e n ' s ritual practices a n d festivals in ancient G r e e c e ( " S o u n d " 6 7 ; O l e n d e r 94). T h e s e rituals are a s s o c i a t e d with a host of u n s e e m l y w o m e n , s u c h a s witches a n d l e s b i a n s , w h o w e r e believed to c a s t evil spells, indulge in vulgar physicality, flaunt their unruly behaviour, a n d in general incite anarchy. T h r o u g h t h e s e rituals, w o m e n orchestrated a vociferous f e m a l e s o u n d s c a p e that c h a l l e n g e d the patriarchal order a n d d e n o u n c e d the s y m b o l i c . T o prevent t h e s e d a n g e r o u s public s o u n d i n g s from disrupting the status quo, w o m e n ' s ritual practices w e r e quickly b a n i s h e d to the outskirts of town, a w a y from the normal range of hearing. E x i l e d to the margins of rational d i s c o u r s e ,  79  w o m e n w e r e o s t r a c i z e d for breaking the s i l e n c e with their indulgent a n d a n a r c h i c racket ( C a r s o n " S o u n d " 67-68). Ironically, w o m e n ' s cathartic s o u n d i n g s a l s o s e r v e d a p u r p o s e in patriarchy; their noisy catharsis w a s a purification rite that p u r g e d the abject from the community. M a r y R u s s o s u g g e s t s that purification rites o c c u r in the s y m b o l i c at the levels of the s o c i a l body a n d the individual p s y c h e (8-9). Anthropologists p r o p o s e that culturation is d e p e n d e n t upon the identification a n d o b s e r v a n c e of d i f f e r e n c e s — h o w e v e r defined—that mark the borders of the s o c i a l body, s o that the l o s s of difference through mixing p r o v o k e s v i o l e n c e a n d c h a o s . T h e y s u g g e s t that the mixing of pure a n d impure s u b s t a n c e s presents a d a n g e r a n d a threat to the s o c i a l order. T h e m a i n t e n a n c e of the community therefore requires a ritual that will c l e a n s e a n d eliminate the threat of s o c i a l pollution. At the most fundamental level, this is the ritual of sacrifice. A c c o r d i n g to R e n e Girard sacrifice deflects v i o l e n c e a w a y from the c o m m u n i t y a n d directs it onto a surrogate victim or " s c a p e g o a t . " S a c r i f i c e fulfills a cathartic function; w h e n performed in a structured setting it m i m e s the original v i o l e n c e u p o n w h i c h society is f o u n d e d . Ritual c h a n n e l s a n d r e l e a s e s e x c e s s v i o l e n c e in a n effort to restore h a r m o n y to the community a n d reinforce the s o c i a l fabric. Kristeva's theory of the abject builds on the ritual of sacrifice at the level of the s o c i a l , a n d s u g g e s t s that sacrifice must a l s o be e n a c t e d at the level of the individual p s y c h e in order for the subject to b e c o m e part of society. F r o m a p s y c h o a n a l y t i c perspective, the n e e d for p s y c h i c sacrifice is similarly g e n e r a t e d by difference. T h i s difference s e p a r a t e s the self from the other a n d is b a s e d upon the subject's entry into the s y m b o l i c a n d the c o n s e q u e n t separation from its (con)fusion with the maternal. B e c a u s e the maternal body is the ordering principle of the libidinal e n e r g i e s that propel  80  us toward the death-drive, both the maternal body a n d the unstructured s o m a a s s o c i a t e d with it must be r e n o u n c e d , in order for the subject to enter the realm of the s o c i a l . T h u s the violent renunciation of the mother during the subject's entry into the s y m b o l i c is the v i o l e n c e upon w h i c h society is f o u n d e d . It c o u l d be s a i d , then, that the social body is f o u n d e d not only on the sacrifice of w o m a n ' s body, but on the sacrifice of w o m a n ' s p s y c h e a s well. E l i z a b e t h Bronfen a r g u e s that the first sacrifice is the sacrifice of the mother: the culturation of the subject a s well a s the preservation of a given social s y s t e m involves sacrifice, a s a violent elimination of a norm-disruptive v i o l e n c e , a n d this is given a privileged figure in the first 'sacrifice' culture requires—the renunciation of the mother a s d e s i r e d object, a s this is a l s o a figure for the sacrifice of the unstructured s o m a . (Dead  190)  T h e maternal body bridges the p s y c h i c a n d the s o c i a l , the u n c o n s c i o u s a n d the c o n s c i o u s , enacting a strange duality that positions the subject at the threshold of the s y m b o l i c (the "thetic break" in Kristeva's s c h e m a d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r one) in order to facilitate the initiation rite that requires her renunciation a n d s e c u r e s the subjectivity of the future s p e a k i n g b e i n g . K r i s t e v a identifies the m o m e n t of sacrifice a s a linguistic moment, the m o m e n t w h e r e l a n g u a g e arrests the drives, regulates rhythmic flux, transforms the body into a s i g n , fixes differences, s i l e n c e s s o u n d , abjects. T h i s libidinal "murder" e x c h a n g e s the maternal function for the abject mother, r e p r e s s e s the drives, a n d facilitates the subject's ability to distinguish b e t w e e n the material a n d the external world (Bronfen  Dead24).  D i s c o u r s e s that d e s i g n a t e the maternal body a s abhorrent generally f o c u s on the abject nature of the w o m b . B e c a u s e w o m a n ' s body is mutable in p r e g n a n c y a n d  81  childbirth, it is literally the body of horror that gives birth to the m o n s t r o u s . A s M a r y R u s s o s u g g e s t s , the "fat" maternal body is itself a sign of the g r o t e s q u e a n d the m o n s t r o u s in a society that links prosperity to a slim (masculine) p h y s i q u e . Culturally 6  the monster represents, in R o s i Braidotti's w o r d s , "the in b e t w e e n , the m i x e d , the ambivalent a s implied in the ancient G r e e k root of the w o r d m o n s t e r s , teras, w h i c h m e a n s both horrible a n d wonderful, object of aberration a n d adoration" (77). T h e monster is the quintessential sign of difference, e s p e c i a l l y in relation to gender, sexuality a n d race. If w e envision the s y m b o l i c a s the " z e r o - d e g r e e of monstrosity," the monster is located to the left or to the right of the z e r o - d e g r e e . It is a n object of difference that, w h e n weighted against the phallogocentric m o d e l of the normal h u m a n being, c a n never m e a s u r e up. T h e monster is the sign of a l e s s e r form of humanity a n d a manifestation of abjection. A c c o r d i n g to p s y c h o a n a l y s i s , a n y deviant figure inspires both d r e a d a n d desire, a n d this a m b i g u o u s d e s i r e — a strange logic of attraction m i x e d with repulsion—threatens the status q u o . T h e maternal body is a representation of abject d e v i a n c e — a f e m a l e body that is d e v a l u e d , e n v i e d , d e s i r e d a n d d e s p i s e d : If w e define the monster a s a bodily entity that is a n o m a l o u s a n d deviant vis-a-vis the norm, then w e c a n argue that the f e m a l e body s h a r e s with the monster the privilege of bringing out a unique b l e n d of fascination  and  horror. (Braidotti 81) A s the "threshold of e x i s t e n c e " the maternal body is s i m u l t a n e o u s l y the site of the origin of life a n d of the subject's insertion into mortality a n d death (Braidotti 81-82). T h e w o m b threatens to destroy the clear b o u n d a r i e s erected in the s y m b o l i c , instituting a loss of direction that o b s c u r e s any distinctions b e t w e e n the inside a n d the outside. In C h a p t e r  82  four this disorientation is d i s c u s s e d in relation to hysteria a n d the theory of the w a n d e r i n g w o m b , both a s p e c t s of the u n c a n n y that facilitated the birth of psychoanalysis. F r e u d quite literally a s s o c i a t e d the w o m b with f e m a l e sexuality, marking it a s u n c a n n y : "that c l a s s of the frightening w h i c h l e a d s b a c k to what is k n o w n of old a n d long familiar" (Freud Uncanny unheimlich  220). In his treatise " T h e U n c a n n y " F r e u d c o n n e c t s the  nature of f e m a l e a n a t o m y with a kind of representational vertigo brought  about by the l o s s of sight. H e explains that the fear of the loss of the e y e s is the most striking instance of the u n c a n n y , b e c a u s e it is linked to the fear of c a s t r a t i o n — a horror that is ultimately d i s p l a c e d onto the "lack" d i s p l a y e d by the f e m a l e genitals. T h e d i s p l a c e m e n t of castration anxiety onto the s e x e d body of the f e m a l e constructs a precarious relationship to her s u p p o s e d l y castrated f e m a l e form a n d c o n s e q u e n t l y to sight in g e n e r a l . B e y o n d the p a r a d i g m of castration anxiety, however, the inability to s e e conjures the g e n e r a l fear of boundary dissolution a n d loss of control. T h e u n c a n n y is a strange e m b o d i m e n t of the merging of self a n d other. T h e aesthetic of the u n c a n n y is thus linked to the notions of originary s p a c e , the female body a n d s y m b o l i c (dis)orientation. T h e disorientation, desire a n d d r e a d triggered by the u n c a n n y g e n e r a t e s the necessity for sacrifice, s o that the subject's b o u n d a r i e s c a n be reinstated a n d solidified. T h e ritual of sacrifice provides only a temporary arrestation of the u n c a n n y , however, a n d thus the reenactment of the first sacrifice must be repeated at various junctures in order to s a f e g u a r d the s o c i a l . Eventually, a n d without w a r n i n g , the libidinal u n c o n s c i o u s c o n n e c t e d to the semiotic r e e m e r g e s to disrupt the s t a s i s of boundary construction e n a c t e d in the sacrifice. T h u s the subject continually struggles with the  83  semiotic v i o l e n c e of the drives that, although r e p r e s s e d , m a n a g e to break through the s y m b o l i c border to d i s s o l v e the logic of order, c h a l l e n g e the identity of the individual a n d question the construction of the s o c i a l body. S i m u l t a n e o u s l y violent a n d regulating, sacrifice confines v i o l e n c e to a specific p l a c e , displacing the annihilation of identity by the drives onto a surrogate signifier. T h e restaging of sacrifice e n s u r e s that the representation of v i o l e n c e is not limitless c h a o s (libidinal content only) but a r e l e a s e a n d a structuring of v i o l e n c e into form. S a c r i f i c e is both the imposition of s o c i a l c o h e r e n c e a n d its outer limit, the play of form a n d content d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r o n e . A s a transitional state b e t w e e n order a n d disorder, form a n d content, sacrifice mixes the u n c o n s c i o u s with the c o n s c i o u s . K r i s t e v a s t r e s s e s that sacrifice g e n e r a t e s a liminal state enacting a "double violence"—that is, a ritual dying a n d a ritual rebirth—that carries jouissance that jouissance.  into the s y m b o l i c a s it simultaneously a s s i g n s a productive limit to T h i s is w h y it is important to reclaim a n d reconfigure the semiotic a s  integral to the s y m b o l i c , otherwise sacrifice l o s e s its liminality a n d the subject m o v e s unhindered toward the death drive.  Abjection B e y o n d the Maternal A n n e M c C l i n t o c k e x p a n d s the parameters of the p s y c h o a n a l y t i c a p p r o a c h to abjection p r o p o s e d by Kristeva in her argument that it is important to u n p a c k abjection in the context of m o d e r n imperialism, a s y s t e m that renders certain individuals, groups, libidos, actions a n d territories a s abject. S h e c o n t e n d s that t h e s e abject s p a c e s are, in actuality, constitutive of this s y s t e m by the very fact of their abject status. In other w o r d s , the n e e d to abject certain individuals, groups, libidos, actions a n d territories from a given society indicates the d e p e n d e n c e that society h a s o n t h e s e s p a c e s of abjection  84  for its definition, e v e n though the "inside" d i s a v o w s its d e p e n d e n c y o n the abjected "outside," a s D i a n a F u s s s u g g e s t s : any outside is formulated a s a c o n s e q u e n c e of a lack internal to the s y s t e m it s u p p l e m e n t s . T h e greater the lack on the inside, the greater the n e e d for a n outside to contain a n d to d e f u s e it, for without that outside, the lack o n the inside would b e c o m e all too visible. ( F u s s 3) M c C l i n t o c k o b s e r v e s that the e l e m e n t s that constitute the outside of both history a n d p s y c h o a n a l y s i s — f e m a l e sexuality, homosexuality, hysteria, fetishism, a s well a s cultural, political a n d e c o n o m i c difference—are the very e l e m e n t s that define p s y c h o a n a l y s i s a n d construct history (72). H e r critical a n a l y s i s e x p o s e s a n d reclaims the r e p r e s s e d e l e m e n t s of both, by m e s h i n g material history with a n e m b o d i e d p s y c h o a n a l y s i s in a n effort to reconfigure p s y c h o a n a l y s i s a s "situated," a n d history a s "psychoanalytically informed" (72). T h u s M c C l i n t o c k u n p a c k s abjection historically a s well a s psychoanalytically, distinguishing b e t w e e n v a r i o u s forms of abjection in s o c i a l , historical a n d p s y c h o l o g i c a l c i r c u m s t a n c e s . S h e a r g u e s that there are s e v e r a l d i m e n s i o n s or layers of abjection in modern society a n d that t h e s e d i m e n s i o n s of abjection a r e c o e x t e n s i v e but nonidentical. T o p a r a p h r a s e her in-depth description, "abject objects" (such a s dirt a n d vomit) are differentiated from the "abject states" (such a s hysteria or bulimia) that often produce abject objects. Similarly, abject objects a n d abject states a r e different from "abject zones"  (such a s ghettos, prisons or mental institutions) in w h i c h t h e s e abject objects or  states may dwell. S o c i a l l y s a n c t i o n e d "agents  of abjection"—those w h o work in abject  c i r c u m s t a n c e s ( s u c h a s d o m e s t i c s a n d n u r s e s ) — a r e different from the "abject groups," (such a s prostitutes a n d the terminally ill) that t h e s e a g e n t s m a y find t h e m s e l v e s  85  working with. Finally, M c C l i n t o c k a r g u e s that "psychic  p r o c e s s e s of  abjection"—fetishism, d i s a v o w a l a n d the u n c a n n y — a r e not the s a m e a s  "political  p r o c e s s e s of abjection" carried out in actions s u c h a s ethnic c l e a n s i n g s , g e n o c i d e or forced r e m o v a l s (72). T o illustrate the layered complexity of abjection that exists in m o d e r n society M c C l i n t o c k cites a n e x a m p l e of the difference b e t w e e n the d i s a v o w a l of a black nurse by a white S o u t h African m a n a n d the forced exile of black w o m e n to the "barren bantustans": " S u r e l y the p r o c e s s e s are e n m e s h e d , " s h e a r g u e s , " s i n c e a connection c a n be m a d e b e t w e e n the o p p r e s s i o n of black w o m e n by black m e n , the exile of black w o m e n from a self-fashioned white nation a n d the " m a s c u l i n e fears of the a r c h a i c mother." S h e s t r e s s e s that t h e s e divergent manifestations of abjection are suggestive of o n e another but ultimately nonidentical: " T h e notion of a n archetypal male fear of the mother is inadequate for fully understanding the e x p u l s i o n of w o m e n , for it cannot explain the historical torsions of race: w h y it is black w o m e n a n d not white w o m e n w h o are territorially e x p e l l e d " (73). T o u n p a c k abjection in this w a y is to a c c o u n t for the complexity of the abject in relation to gender, race, c l a s s a n d sexuality, within the p e r v a s i v e n e s s of p o w e r networks in modernity. H o w d o t h e s e d i m e n s i o n s of abjection apply to s o u n d ? I p r o p o s e that it is p o s s i b l e to apply M c C l i n t o c k ' s layered model of abjection to s o u n d , a s a template for the p u r p o s e s of understanding the complexity of s o n i c abjection. T h i s s o n i c "aestheticization" h a s not b e e n undertaken to dilute the political importance of M c C l i n t o c k ' s work, but to point to the political implications of the treatment a n d the representation of s o u n d in western society.  86  A s a r g u e d in C h a p t e r o n e , s o u n d p o s s e s s e s a n invisible materiality. With respect to M c C l i n t o c k ' s m o d e l , I n o w p r o p o s e that abject (sonic) objects are simply s o u n d s t h e m s e l v e s . T h e s e s o n i c objects a r e different from, although often p r o d u c e d by, abject (sonic) states related to the body s u c h a s childbirth, hysteria a n d o r g a s m . Abject (sonic) zones are the territories or s p a c e s allotted to s o u n d , s u c h a s m u s i c (in the generic s e n s e ) a n d noise. Agents of (sonic) abjection are the c o m p o s e r s , improvisers, m u s i c i a n s , noisicians a n d others w h o work with the objects of s o u n d ; while abject (sonic) groups are those w h o s e s o u n d is d e e m e d abject s u c h a s w o m e n a n d marginalized p e o p l e s . S o u n d is manifest in the psychic processes abjection—that  of (sonic)  is, in the s o u n d of the drives a n d the non-linguistic or "grotesque"  s o u n d s of the semiotic c h o r a a n d the u n c o n s c i o u s . S o u n d is a l s o subjected to political processes  of (sonic) abjection that s e e k to c l e a n s e or purify s o u n d , s u c h a s l a n g u a g e  a n d music-as-representation carried out in the west through functional tonality, musicology, m u s i c theory a n d m u s i c criticism. T h u s s o u n d in the s y m b o l i c is c o n n e c t e d to the semiotic (the "archaic mother" in M c C l i n t o c k ' s terms) but not wholly determined by it. T h e reader m a y h a v e noticed that m u s i c a p p e a r s in two p l a c e s in this s c h e m e : a s a n abject sonic zone a n d a s a political process of sonic abjection. T h i s duality s p e a k s to the ambiguity of m u s i c in western culture. A s L a w r e n c e K r a m e r explains, m u s i c contains both a n internal a n d external logic of alterity (35-36). M u s i c - a s representation d e m o n s t r a t e s a n internal alterity that c l e a n s e s a n d disciplines s o u n d , in a c c o r d a n c e with the parameters of the political processes  of sonic abjection (theory,  functional tonality, form) that contour the w a y m u s i c b e c o m e s representation in the cultural milieu. Alternatively, m u s i c a s a n abject sonic zone is the manifestation of sonic  87  difference in s o c i e t y — m u s i c in its more g e n e r i c s e n s e — t h e "other" of l a n g u a g e a s well a s the "other" of m u s i c - a s - r e p r e s e n t a t i o n . M u s i c b e a r s the weight of this d o u b l e n e s s , standing at the threshold of a liminal s p a c e w h e r e s o n i c objects, libidos, actions a n d territories " p u s h e a c h other a w a y , confront e a c h other, c o l l a p s e , a n d start a g a i n — i n s e p a r a b l e , c o n t a m i n a t e d , c o n d e m n e d , at the b o u n d a r y of what is a s s a i l a b l e , thinkable: Abject" (Kristeva Powers  18). M u s i c w o r k s through this struggle in both  gestural a n d spatial terms, performing the ambiguity a n d liminality of s o n i c libidos, individuals, g r o u p s , actions a n d territories in the s y m b o l i c .  M u s i c is a S c r u b w o m a n : Political P r o c e s s e s of S o n i c Abjection A r g u a b l y the most w i d e s p r e a d political process  of sonic abjection  is the  c l e a n s i n g carried out through the m e c h a n i s m of a rigidly constructed logos that s e p a r a t e s the unpredictability of the s o u n d i n g body from the rational construction a n d deployment of l a n g u a g e . K r i s t e v a writes that the paternal function f o r e c l o s e s "the ability of the s o u n d - t r a c e to maintain a n d g o b e y o n d [...] aural/oral abject objectthat  the signified" (Powers  50). A s the  c o n f u s e s the border b e t w e e n nature a n d culture, feminine  a n d m a s c u l i n e , order a n d disorder, s o u n d is subjected to v a r i o u s rules a n d regulations i m p o s e d a s m e a s u r e s of s o c i a l control a n d purification. In the s y m b o l i c , l a n g u a g e is s e p a r a t e d from the s o u n d i n g body, l e s s a n e x p r e s s i o n of/from the c o r p o r e a l than a s o u n d i n g of the law. L o g o s b e c o m e s the marker of self-control, a " d i s a s s o c i a t i o n of the inside a n d outside" that defines humanity ( C a r s o n " S o u n d " 77). L o g o s e n d e a v o r s to sanitize s o u n d through the filter of linguistic r e a s o n , a tactical m o v e u s e d to diffuse the d a n g e r corporeal s o n i c fluidity p o s e s to the body/mind b o u n d a r y c r e a t e d in the repression of the psychic  88  processes  of abjection.  T o mitigate  a n y u n f o r e s e e n d a n g e r , the s o u n d that b y p a s s e s l a n g u a g e must be c h a n n e l e d into other political  processes  of abjection  constructed to detoxify a n d contain s o u n d . T h e s e  "other" political p r o c e s s e s attempt to render the invisible visible, utilizing strategies cleverly d e v i s e d to s h a p e a n d control the abject sonic  object.  A s a m e a n s of confronting a n d regulating the impurity of abject sonic m u s i c b e c o m e s o n e of the primary political  processes  of abjection,  objects,  g i v e n the task of  c l e a n s i n g the s o u n d s that h a v e e s c a p e d linguistic sanitization. T h i s is m u s i c - a s representation, a s i m u l a c r u m of ritual sacrifice at the level of s o u n d , that provides a n alternate, non-linguistic environment in w h i c h s o n i c c a t h a r s i s c a n take p l a c e . T h e p r o c e s s is a n aesthetic c l e a n s i n g , a purification rite that shifts s o n i c borders a n d determines the conditions under which abject sonic objects s o u n d . M u s i c - a s representation s t a g e s a dialectic b e t w e e n ordered a n d d i s o r d e r e d s o u n d s , performing the s o n o r o u s transformation of n o n - s e n s e into s e n s e , n o i s e into harmony. J a c q u e s Attali writes that m u s i c is the v a n g u a r d of w e s t e r n society, describing m u s i c a s a n u n c a n n y harbinger of m e a n i n g , p l e a s u r e , d e s i r e , crisis a n d f r e e d o m . H e e n c o u r a g e s us to listen to the s o u n d s c r e a t e d a n d affirmed by particular socio-historical settings a s m a r k e r s of a n imminent political e c o n o m y . M u s i c is not simply the s o n i c rendering of various m e a n i n g s a n d functions a s c r i b e d to s o u n d , but is a l s o indicative of the tolerance for the c l e a n a n d proper—order a n d disorder, c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e — i n a g i v e n society at a given time. M u s i c is a m a p of the political of sonic abjection:  processes  " M u s i c , like cartography, records the simultaneity of conflicting  orders, from w h i c h a fluid structure a r i s e s , never r e s o l v e d , n e v e r pure" (45). T h u s the structuring of the a c o u s t i c a l l a n d s c a p e into the oppositional territories of harmony a n d noise constitutes a political act in w e s t e r n a e s t h e t i c s . A l t h o u g h definitions  89  of h a r m o n y a n d n o i s e are culturally constructed, shifting a n d unstable, representational p r o c e s s e s of m u s i c d e p e n d upon the strategic articulation, regulation a n d purification of the abject sonic objects that inhabit the abject sonic zone c a l l e d n o i s e a n d m u s i c . E c h o i n g Attali, J o h n Corbett explains that the n o i s e / m u s i c b o u n d a r y " e x p o s e s d e e p hidden a s p e c t s of a given society's political s u b c o n s c i o u s , its structure, a n d its m e a n s of producing m e a n i n g " ( " E p h e m e r a " 220). T h e extent to w h i c h n o i s e is tolerated in m u s i c is thus indicative of a society's tolerance for d i s s o n a n t a n d disorderly e l e m e n t s . Corbett o b s e r v e s that the regulation of the d i s s o n a n t e l e m e n t s in w e s t e r n m u s i c is a c c o m p l i s h e d through the construction of a c o m p r e h e n s i v e m e t a l a n g u a g e — t h e c o n v e r g e n c e of theory, history a n d notation—that dictates a n d monitors m u s i c ' s political processes  of abjection.  M u s i c in this s e n s e b e c o m e s a kind of l a n g u a g e that is part of  s y m b o l i c representation, a c o d e d s y s t e m that regulates the range of s o n i c m e a n i n g in culture from a n external v a n t a g e point a s s u m e d to be objective and/or universal. In this s y s t e m m u s i c m e a n s b e c a u s e it is written down—that is, r e p r e s e n t e d — d e s p i t e the doctrine of traditional m u s i c o l o g y that d e c l a r e s exactly the opposite, that m u s i c is written d o w n b e c a u s e it m e a n s . T h e belief in m u s i c ' s logic—the naturalness of its c o n s o n a n c e — i s , a s Corbett points out, b a s e d o n a c o m p l e x s y s t e m of denial ( " E p h e m e r a " 2 1 7 - 2 2 0 ) . M u s i c - a s - r e p r e s e n t a t i o n is a self-regulatory ritual c l e a n s i n g that actively d i s a v o w s , controls a n d r e p r e s s e s its own noise. In A History  of Consonance  and Dissonance,  c o m p o s e r J a m e s T e n n e y traces  the historical p a r a d i g m s that h a v e generated c o n c e p t s of m u s i c a n d noise in western culture throughout the practice of w e s t e r n art music. H e s u g g e s t s five p a r a d i g m s of c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e a n d d i s c u s s e s how e a c h h a s provided a c o n c e p t u a l framework for m u s i c a l practice during a given historical p e r i o d . Unlike other m u s i c 7  90  theorists, however, T e n n e y refuses to present t h e s e p a r a d i g m s in a linear progression that m o v e s e a s i l y through m u s i c history. Instead, h e p r o p o s e s that o n e or m o r e of t h e s e p a r a d i g m s h a s b e e n operative throughout the history of w e s t e r n m u s i c , a n d s u g g e s t s that all p a r a d i g m s are operative in current m u s i c a l practice. F o r the p u r p o s e s of this argument the most significant a s p e c t of T e n n e y ' s analysis is that it spatializes the concept of m u s i c , recognizing that designations of c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e are neither e s s e n t i a l , fixed nor absolute, o n either a vertical or horizontal plane, e v e n though e a c h is presented a s s u c h and/or a p p e a r s to be stable at a n y given time. T h e codification of c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e in m u s i c is a result of the political processes of abjection that forcibly eliminate certain abject sonic objects from the s p a c e s of music-as-representation. T e n n e y ' s observation that the border separating c o n s o n a n c e from d i s s o n a n c e is multiple a n d continuously shifting s u g g e s t s that (although generally disavowed) a n i n c o m m e n s u r a b l e plurality of c o n s o n a n t / d i s s o n a n t positions are simultaneously operable. M u s i c is neither vertical hierarchy nor horizontal s u c c e s s i o n , but spatial, able to o c c u p y s e v e r a l trajectories at o n c e . S p e a k i n g a s a n agent of sonic abjection—that abject sonic objects—-Tenney  is, a s a c o m p o s e r w h o works with  s u g g e s t s that the spatialization of m u s i c is a w a y for the  composer to get b e y o n d that type of intentionality that is note-by-note intentionality—you know: the aesthetic a s s u m p t i o n that's behind the boast of the analyst w h e n he thinks that he h a s e x p l a i n e d every note in the p i e c e a n d s h o w n why that note h a s to b e just what it is. I'm a m a z e d that they're not e v e n e m b a r r a s s e d to s a y it [laughs]. W h a t kind of mechanistic  91  universe is implied by that—that s o m e h o w , e v e r y note h a s to be exactly the w a y it w a s ? (Different 26) Amiri B a r a k a m a k e s a similar point, w h e n he e m p h a s i z e s the "total a r e a " of a m u s i c a l work, a spatial determination of structure through " m u s i c a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s of rhythm, pitch, timbre a n d melody," a s o p p o s e d to the linearity of the bar line a n d note-to-note accountability ( M a c k e y 31). If the political b o u n d a r i e s of m u s i c constantly shift a n d are reflected in the attitude toward m u s i c a n d noise at any given time, the construction of s o n i c abjection is a result of disciplinary a n d cultural factors that s h a p e the relative positions of c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e in aesthetic d i s c o u r s e . If at the m u s i c a l level c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e are a l w a y s implicated in o n e another, p e r h a p s the s a m e c a n be said for m u s i c a n d noise at both the m u s i c a l a n d the political level. T h e m u s i c a l confrontation b e t w e e n c o n s o n a n c e a n d d i s s o n a n c e that reflects the political confrontation b e t w e e n m u s i c a n d n o i s e is thus a n encounter b e t w e e n s o n i c laws a n d s o n i c outlaws. T h e relative d a n g e r afforded to d i s s o n a n c e a n d the n e e d for c o n s o n a n c e a n d resolution at any given time d e p e n d s upon m a n y factors in the larger socio-political, historical a n d aesthetic s o n i c context.  Abject R h y t h m R h y t h m is of c o u r s e a n integral c o m p o n e n t of s o u n d , inhabiting all of the d i m e n s i o n s of the s o n i c s p a c e s of abjection. J a m e s S n e a d d i s c u s s e s the parameters of rhythmic abjection in his investigation of repetition in m u s i c . In his c o m p a r i s o n of the different attitudes toward repetition that exist in E u r o p e a n a n d black m u s i c , he a r g u e s that the c o n c e p t of "black culture" w a s created by E u r o p e a n culture for the e x p r e s s  92  p u r p o s e of highlighting a n d abjecting the former's "difference." T h i s m o v e , a c c o r d i n g to S n e a d , negativizes black culture's difference in order to reinforce the dominant culture: "In certain c a s e s , culture, in projecting a n i m a g e for others, c l a i m s a radical difference from others, often further defined qualitatively a s superiority" (215). T h i s is a n e x a m p l e of the d i s a v o w e d d e p e n d e n c e of the inside o n the outside d i s c u s s e d a b o v e . S n e a d traces the abject outside of black culture in/as rhythm. A s S n e a d s u g g e s t s , E u r o p e a n culture s e p a r a t e s itself from "other" cultures "in its treatment of p h y s i c a l a n d natural c y c l e s " (218). Although c y c l i c a l m o d e l s of history w e r e prevalent in E u r o p e before the d e v e l o p m e n t of what he calls scientific p r o g r e s s i v i s m , by the nineteenth-century the linear model of history w a s solidified. S n e a d s u g g e s t s that "[t]he n o w s u p p r e s s e d (but still to be found) recognition of c y c l e s in E u r o p e a n culture h a s a l w a y s r e s e m b l e d the beliefs that underlie the religious c o n c e p t i o n s of black culture, o b s e r v i n g periodic regeneration of biological a n d agricultural s y s t e m s " (218). Although repetition d o e s exist in the dominant culture, it d o e s s o in the g u i s e of recurring celebrations. A s S n e a d points out, in a capitalist framework the s p e c t a c l e of t h e s e celebrations must be bigger a n d more s p e c t a c u l a r than the previous y e a r s . S n e a d links the p h e n o m e n o n of "bigger a n d better" directly to commodification a n d capitalist culture, a n aesthetic b a s e d o n the d i s a v o w a l of b a c k w a r d mobility: E c o n o m i c s a n d b u s i n e s s in their term "cyclicality," admit the existence a n d e v e n the n e c e s s i t y of repetition of decline but continually overlay this rupture in the illusion of continuous growth with a rhetoric of "incremental" or " s t a g e d " development, w h i c h a s s e r t s that the repetition of decline in a c y c l e m a y occur, but o c c u r s only within a n overall u p w a r d or spiral t e n d e n c y . (219)  93  T h e c o n c e p t i o n of repetition a s linear a n d progressive sharply contrasts the black notion of repetition a s a non-goal oriented s p a c e of rupture a n d surprise that p r o d u c e s , in S n e a d ' s w o r d s , " a quality of difference c o m p a r e d to what h a s g o n e before" (213). W h a t the quality of difference in the black a p p r o a c h to repetition s u g g e s t s to S n e a d is the potential that a r i s e s from " a revised m e t a p h y s i c s of rupture a n d o p e n i n g " (217). At times referred to a s "repetition with a difference" or "the c h a n g i n g s a m e , " this black a p p r o a c h to aesthetics is b a s e d o n the polyrhythms of A f r i c a n m u s i c w h e r e the rhythm "is there for y o u to pick up w h e n y o u c o m e b a c k to get it." S n e a d a r g u e s that if there is a " g o a l " c o n t a i n e d in this aesthetic framework, "it is a l w a y s deferred; it continually "cuts" b a c k to the start, in the m u s i c a l m e a n i n g of "cut" a s a n abrupt, s e e m i n g l y unmotivated break (an accidental d a capo) with a s e r i e s already in progress a n d a willed return to a prior s e r i e s " (220). S n e a d reframes F r e u d ' s theory of repetition c o m p u l s i o n , in reference to this black cultural aesthetic: a s a repetition with a difference a n d a n e x a m p l e of the "cut." A s he s u g g e s t s , the c o m p u l s i o n to repeat is b a s e d o n a " s e e m i n g l y fortuitous" (but actually motivated) repetition that a p p e a r s in explicit contradiction to societal constraints a n d standards of behaviour" (220). In other w o r d s , repetition c o m p u l s i o n allows for the repetitive (re)surfacing of r e p r e s s e d u n c o n s c i o u s drives, e s p e c i a l l y t h o s e m a r k e d a s taboo by the s o c i a l contract. G l o s s i n g F r e u d , K r i s t e v a confirms that the c o m p u l s i o n to repeat p r o c e e d s "from the drive i m p u l s e s a n d [is] probably inherent in the very nature of the d r i v e s — a c o m p u l s i o n powerful e n o u g h to overrule the p l e a s u r e principle"  {Strangers  184). F o r S n e a d , the c o m p u l s i o n to repeat is a rhythmic break instituted by "the c y c l e of desire a n d r e p r e s s i o n that underlies repetition c o m p u l s i o n , " a n d this, he c o n t e n d s ,  94  "belongs together with the notion of the 'cut.'" (220). T h e cut of u n c o n s c i o u s repetition ruptures the c o h e r e n c e of s y m b o l i c c o n s c i o u s n e s s . Nathaniel M a c k e y d e s c r i b e s the rhythmic rupture instituted by the cut a s a limp. H e s u m m o n s the figure of L e g b a — t h e lame trickster portrayed in black folkloric narratives, w h o "walks with a limp b e c a u s e his legs are of u n e q u a l lengths, o n e of them a n c h o r e d in the world of h u m a n s a n d the other in that of the g o d s " : a n allegorical figure w h o g e s t u r e s toward the i m m a n e n c e a n d the t r a n s c e n d e n c e of rupture (243). A s a master d a n c e r a n d m u s i c i a n , L e g b a is a b l e to u s e his limp to bridge the d i s t a n c e b e t w e e n l a m e n e s s a n d d a n c i n g . T h e limp c r e a t e s a n intersection, a heterogeneity that cuts with a relativizing e d g e to unveil impairment's power, a s though the s y n c o p a t e d a c c e n t w e r e a n u n e x p e c t e d b l e s s i n g offering a n o m a l o u s , unpredictable support. Impairment taken to a higher ground, remediated, translates d a m a g e a n d disarray into a d a n c e . (244) M a c k e y s u g g e s t s that L e g b a ' s limp operates like a phantom limb, by transforming a visible deficiency or lack into a n "invisible supplement" a n d a "transparent p r e s e n c e " (244). T h e p s y c h o a n a l y t i c c o n c e p t of the phantom limb is b a s e d in the "mirror stage," that is, on the recognition of the subject's image reflected in a mirror that institutes entry into the s y m b o l i c . M o i r a G a t e n s c o n t e n d s that the subject h a s a n "emotional a n d libidinal investment" in the reflected i m a g e that c a u s e s him/her to interpret the image a s c o m p l e t e a n d w h o l e (11). Y e t the recognition of the i m a g e a s c o h e r e n t in the mirror is in actuality a misrecognition—in other w o r d s the i m a g e w e s e e reflected b a c k to us is a n imaginary o n e — a n d thus the a s s u m p t i o n of w h o l e n e s s is nothing m o r e than a fantasy. A s a n imaginary reconstruction of a limb that h a s b e e n s e v e r e d or cut, the p h a n t o m limbs haunts us with our loss a n d our fragmentation. Y e t is a l s o articulates a n  95  u n e x p e c t e d , albeit invisible, regeneration. A s a n interruption of the c o h e r e n c e of the i m a g e the phantom limb negotiates the s p a c e b e t w e e n the "real a n d the unreal," c a u s i n g us to question our c o n c e p t of reality by transforming deformity into a sign of "multiformity" (244). F o r M a c k e y m u s i c is a n a l o g o u s to the p h a n t o m limb: let m e simply s a y that the phantom limb is a felt recovery, a felt a d v a n c e b e y o n d s e v e r a n c e a n d limitation that c o n t e n d s with a n d questions conventional reality, that it is a feeling for what is not there that r e a c h e s b e y o n d a s it calls into question what is. M u s i c a s p h a n t o m limb arises from a capacity for feeling that holds itself apart from n u m b contingency. T h e phantom limb haunts or critiques a condition in w h i c h feeling, c o n s c i o u s n e s s itself, would s e e m to h a v e b e e n cut off. (235) R e s e m b l i n g the cut of L e g b a ' s limp, m u s i c a s p h a n t o m limb interrupts the c o h e r e n c e a n d linearity of music-as-representation to create a hesitation a n d a p a u s e that "arises from a n d reflects critically upon a n e x p e r i e n c e of isolation or e x c l u s i o n " (242). T h i s is a n articulation of the outsider's ordeal, a "telling inarticulacy" that s p e a k s of a "traumatic survival" ( M a c k e y 244). M u s i c is the u n c a n n y s o u n d i n g of a h e t e r o g e n e o u s w h o l e n e s s ; the strange intonational a n d rhythmic jouissance  of the abject.  M u s i c is a M i s t r e s s D u k e Ellington tells the story of his relationship to m u s i c a n d s o n i c abjection in the declaration Music is My Mistress.  Ellington's p o e m " M u s i c " is a narrative that  wrestles with the u n c a n n y heterogeneity of m u s i c through myriad c l i c h e s that connect it to W o m a n - a s - n o u n a s well a s w o m a n - a s - v e r b . H e r e m u s i c - a s - w o m a n is representative of the c h a n g i n g s a m e , the a m b i g u o u s cut that articulates s o u n d , while m u s i c - a s - W o m a n  96  is indicative of the h y p o s t a s i z e d s i l e n c e g e n e r a t e d by the s o c i a l othering that s o u n d encounters in dominant culture. M u s i c - a s - w o m a n / W o m a n is the a m b i g u o u s s p a c e Ellington's m u s i c o c c u p i e s both psychically a n d socially in culture; it is the other that e n g a g e s his o w n o t h e r n e s s . His p o e m c a n be read at this level a s a reflection of the outsider's o r d e a l , "an introspective gesture that a r i s e s from a n d reflects critically upon a n e x p e r i e n c e of isolation or e x c l u s i o n " ( M a c k e y 252). Ellington e m p l o y s the abject ambiguity of w o m a n / W o m a n to s t a n d in for the abject ambiguity of m u s i c , p e r h a p s a s a critical reflection upon the abjection of his o w n c o m p o s i t i o n s in the critical s p a c e s of the dominant culture. A s G r a h a m L o c k s u g g e s t s , Ellington's c o m p o s i t i o n s w e r e often s e e n a s deformities of both j a z z a n d c l a s s i c a l m u s i c , a n d like w o m a n / W o m a n they w e r e consistently m i s r e p r e s e n t e d a n d m i s r e a d (158). Ellington's o t h e r n e s s o c c u r s o n 8  s e v e r a l levels: he is a n agent of s o n i c abjection (composer) a n d a m e m b e r of a n abject s o n i c group (black c o m p o s e r ) ; he utilizes abject s o n i c objects (the "weird" s o u n d s of plungers a n d mutes); a n d h e is subject to the political p r o c e s s e s of s o n i c abjection (critical r e s p o n s e s ) . T h e s e layers of abjection intersect at the axis " M u s i c . " 9  Y e t there are other levels upon w h i c h Ellington is able to d i s a v o w his otherness by projecting it onto m u s i c - a s - w o m a n / W o m a n . T h e p o e m " M u s i c " is a misrepresentation at the level of g e n d e r that w o r k s both socially a n d psychically in its characterization of m u s i c a s the s o n i c maternal/mother/woman/feminine: the enigmatic other that is monstrous in her e x c e s s a n d grotesque in her lack (Braidotti 83). M u s i c is the other the c o m p o s e r both d e s i r e s a n d d r e a d s : M u s i c is a beautiful w o m a n in her prime, M u s i c is a s c r u b w o m a n , clearing a w a y dirt a n d grime, M u s i c is a girl child  97  Simple, sweet and beaming, A t h o u s a n d y e a r s old, C o l d a s sleet, a n d s c h e m i n g .  W i s e a n d patient, Unfathomably kind, M u s i c is the w o m a n y o u a l w a y s w a n t e d to find.  A s fragile a s a flower, A single petal of a rose, A n d what y o u think y o u think, S h e already knows s h e k n o w s .  A s y s t e m of ribbons, A multiplicity of ramifications, S p a r k l i n g from her brain d o w n through her c o r e , A million facets of g o s s a m e r s e n s a t i o n s .  A n d y o u c o u l d be A most inadequate bore.  M u s i c is a g o r g e o u s bitch,... A v o l c a n o of desire M a k e s your blood boil  98  A s y o u get higher a n d higher.  M u s i c is like the w o m a n W h o is like mathematics: M u s i c is a w o m a n w h o ' s true.  N o matter how well y o u know her, T h e r e ' s a l w a y s more to learn; A n e n d l e s s adventure, every d a y s h e ' s brand n e w . M u s i c is that w o m a n , w h o Y o u ' l l h o p e will s a y , " T h e r e ' s very few w h o d o a n e w - d o like y o u do." But a l a s , you're the victim of her c o u p , ' C a u s e she c a n a l w a y s satisfy y o u .  M u s i c is the w o m a n Y o u follow d a y after d a y ; M u s i c is the w o m a n W h o a l w a y s h a s her w a y .  The topless chick— Y o u like to s e e s h a k e it— N o matter how hard y o u try, Y o u never quite m a k e it.  99  W h e n y o u don't hear her, Y o u desperately miss her, A n d w h e n y o u e m b r a c e her, Y o u w i s h y o u could kiss h e r .  10  Ellington's p o e m recounts the p a s s i o n of a c o m p o s e r for w h o m the s e d u c t i v e n e s s of m u s i c is the s e d u c t i v e n e s s of the abject. A bitchy temptress, m u s i c is both enticing a n d unpredictable, d a n g e r o u s yet alluring. T h e struggle of the c o m p o s e r to o r g a n i z e , s h a p e a n d contain m u s i c is a fantasy of m a s c u l i n e control e x e r c i s e d o n the s o n i c feminine. At times m u s i c defies this control, c h o o s i n g her o w n trajectory, p u s h i n g the c o m p o s e r past his limits a c r o s s the threshold of the s y m b o l i c , b e y o n d the b o u n d s of representation. Although Ellington d r e a m s that he is the subject of m u s i c ' s d e s i r e , he a l s o imagines he is the victim of her n o n c h a l a n c e a n d disinterest: " A n d y o u could be / A most inadequate bore." T h e power of her seduction m a k e s him a n x i o u s , unsure, unfulfilled, flaccid: " N o matter how hard y o u try, / Y o u never quite m a k e it." Ellington's anxiety s t e m s from his inability to control the s o u r c e of m u s i c ' s fickle nature, the s o n i c feminine. C a n his flirtations satisfy her? Ellington writes of his o b s e s s i o n for m u s i c a s a craving for her s o u n d , the unfulfilled desire of a c o m p o s e r w h o e m b r a c e s m u s i c but fails to leave his mark—the imprint of his k i s s — a s a n artist. R e m i n i s c e n t of the encounter between the mariner O d y s s e u s a n d the S i r e n s , the half-human, bird-like creatures w h o lured sailors to their death o n rocky s h o r e s with their mellifluous singing, the c o m p o s e r is in constant d a n g e r of c r a s h i n g into s i l e n c e on his journey through the rocky s h o r e s of s o u n d . J u s t a s the S i r e n s ' s o n g proved deadly to its listeners, m u s i c that defies representation is not only d a n g e r o u s but b e y o n d the  100  s y m b o l i c range of hearing. E v o k i n g the pain a n d anxiety of a m b i g u o u s d e s i r e in his affair with the enigmatic feminine, Ellington is lured by the abject nature of m u s i c ' s S i r e n song.  11  Although m u s i c is s a i d to be inspired by the M u s e s , the divine beings w h o s e s o n i c representations are constructed to help the listener forget the t r a u m a s of the past, it is a l s o p r o d u c e d in the m o n s t r o u s n e s s of the S i r e n s ' s o n g .  1 2  T h e s o n i c abject a r o u s e s  "an u n s y m b o l i z e d past that is traumatic for the listener, s i n c e it e v o k e s s o m e t h i n g primordial, s o m e t h i n g that is b e t w e e n nature a n d culture that the subject d o e s not want to r e m e m b e r " ( S a l e c l 18). M u s i c defies the b o u n d a r i e s of past a n d present; it exists inside a n d outside of symbolization, conjuring a primordial semiotic r e m e m b r a n c e of the s o u n d s , rhythms a n d intonations of the drives, structuring t h e s e textures for the s y m b o l i c ear. T h e d e s i r e for m u s i c is a flirtation with a death drive that h a s its origins in the semiotic a n d is intoned in the s y m b o l i c . M u s i c is thus neither inspiration, nor memory, nor s o n i c drive alone. A s s y m b o l i c representation m u s i c is d e p e n d e n t upon the ability of the sign to forget the death drive, a n d its origins. A s the S i r e n s ' s o n g that e s c a p e s the s i g n , m u s i c is the s o n i c abject that reinstates semiotic n o i s e . M u s i c e m b o d i e s the surplus s o u n d of the s y m b o l i c . A s S a l e c l points out, surplus is s o m e t h i n g that e l u d e s signification: it is a n e x c e s s i v e jouissance both fascinating a n d d e a d l y (20). If the jouissance  that m a k e s s o u n d  related to f e m a l e sexuality a n d the  libidinal e c o n o m y of the c h o r a are c o n n e c t e d , it follows that there is a l s o a connection b e t w e e n s o u n d a n d feminine jouissance,  the cries of p l e a s u r e a n d the cries of pain. A  deaf culture that relies o n visual c u e s a l o n e cannot hear or u n d e r s t a n d the s o u n d of feminine jouissance.  T h e inability to listen is the inability to interpret what s o u n d is being  heard a n d the significance of that s o u n d . If m u s i c is the a m b i g u o u s s o u n d i n g of  101  p l e a s u r e a n d pain, harmony a n d noise, c a n it be heard in the s y m b o l i c ? If m u s i c refuses to give up its jouissance  d o e s it exist in a paradox of s i l e n c e ?  J u s t a s l a n g u a g e is a guarantee of the s y m b o l i c , s i l e n c e is a protection from the s o u n d of the drive, a muted jouissance.  In relation to Ellington's d e s i r e for m u s i c , it is  ultimately inscribed in "her" s i l e n c e — a s i l e n c e c r e a t e d by his inability to hear. T h i s s i l e n c e p r o d u c e s a great deal of anxiety for Ellington a s a c o m p o s e r . C a n he confront her s i l e n c e , her s o u n d s ? C a n he hear her jouissance?  C a n he c o m p o s e at all? L o c a t e d  at the border of s o u n d a n d s i l e n c e , m u s i c is a rocky s h o r e to w h i c h the c o m p o s e r sails at his peril. M u s i c is harmony l a c e d with death, a beautiful s o n g that contains a deadly silence.  13  M u s i c in " W o m e n ' s T i m e " J u l i a K r i s t e v a u s e s the term " m u s i c " a s a s o n i c trope for the workings of the instinctual drives. A functionary of rhythm, m u s i c s o u n d s the regenerative pulse of the dialectical p r o c e s s b e t w e e n the drives a n d the s y m b o l i c . M u s i c is a gesture of the semiotic, o n e that offers intonation, rhythm, texture, a n d m e a n i n g to l a n g u a g e . It is a n "active, insurgent practice," o n e that blurs the b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n the signifier a n d the signified (Desire  168). M u s i c is the "cut" of the semiotic in the s y m b o l i c .  M u s i c , rhythm a n d polyphony are u s e d interchangeably by K r i s t e v a to d e s c r i b e the d y n a m i c intervention brought by the semiotic to the s y m b o l i c . M u s i c is akin to signifiance,  a d y n a m i c of m e a n i n g that utilizes s o u n d to intervene in the static c o d e s  that construct subjectivity in the s y m b o l i c . M u s i c interrupts the static subject with a rhythmic a n d intonational "cut" that e x p o s e s the multiple a n d h e t e r o g e n e o u s s u b j e c t :  102  14  M u s i c itself is a derivative. It is simply the s o n o r o u s indicator of a break, of a deaf, mute, mortal, a n d regenerative rhythm. It t a k e s p l a c e w h e r e the body is g a s h e d by the blows of biology a n d the s h o c k of the s e x u a l , s o c i a l , a n d historical contradiction, breaking through to the quick, piercing through the shield of the v o c a l a n d s y m b o l i c c o v e r . (Desire  179)  For K r i s t e v a m u s i c o c c u r s in the rhythmic rupture of this spatial interval, b e t w e e n s o u n d a n d s i l e n c e , the dissolution a n d the return of the subject. T h e infinity of the "subject in p r o c e s s / o n trial" exists in the destabilization of a static subject position, a confrontation with the polyphony of the semiotic a n d the ultimate return of the subject transformed. A l t h o u g h this rhythm is cyclical, its repetitions are disjunct a n d v a r i e d . S e m i o t i c rhythms are multiform, fusing a n d dissolving in a state of flux. T h e rhythm of the drives brings the subject into confrontation with the jouissance fusion/rejection: a jouissance  that exists o n the threshold of  that repeats the subject with a quality of difference.  R h y t h m w e a v e s texture into subjectivity by turning e a c h thread: "into a broken path with multiple e d g e s , a n infinity of forks, returns to the s a m e furrows, a n d departures into other d i m e n s i o n s " (Desire 201). It is a "de-signating a n d d i s s o l v i n g gesture" that destabilizes but d o e s not annihilate the subject in the m o m e n t of transformation  (Desire  191). C o m p a r a b l e to the rhythmic aesthetic in black culture d e s c r i b e d by S n e a d a n d M a c k e y , K r i s t e v a ' s notion of rhythm s t a n d s in stark contrast to the conventional western notion of rhythm a s a linear p u l s e that offers c o n s i s t e n c y , location a n d predictability. S e m i o t i c m u s i c a l time is a flexible c o n c e p t , consistent in its i n c o n s i s t e n c y , a dialectical e n c o u n t e r b e t w e e n rhythm a n d duration, a texture that is "one a n d heterogeneous." other w o r d s " w o m e n ' s time" is the time of the c h a n g i n g s a m e (Desire  103  184).  In  F o r K r i s t e v a , the time of m u s i c is the time of the semiotic, a n a s s a u l t on the death-drive a n d s i l e n c e . T h e time of n o n - c y c l i c a l , non-linear repetition is d y n a m i c , a h e t e r o g e n e o u s p r o c e s s that never c e a s e s . T o c o n c e i v e of time a s a d y n a m i c a n d motile force requires the combination of historical a n d linear, cyclical a n d repetitive representations of m o v e m e n t through s p a c e . T i m e is more than a chronology, it involves a dialectic b e t w e e n "rhythmic a g e n c y " a n d "evolutive duration," s o that corporeal rhythms are m a r k e d in, around a n d through historical time (Desire 205). A s a dialectic of spatial intervals that g e n e r a t e s rhythm, m u s i c a n d intonation, time is both a topology a n d a geometry that is "polyphonic" a n d "stratified" (Desire 201). M u s i c is the rhythmic unfolding of corporeal a n d mythic time. W h e n m u s i c performs its s o n i c sacrifice, cutting the s y m b o l i c with the semiotic, it is a signifying practice that marks " w o m e n ' s time." K r i s t e v a writes that w o m e n ' s time is both repetition a n d rupture, a rhythm that s u r f a c e s to "break the c o d e , to shatter l a n g u a g e , to find a specific d i s c o u r s e c l o s e r to the body a n d e m o t i o n s , to the u n n a m a b l e r e p r e s s e d by the s o c i a l contract" (Women's  25). M u s i c transforms the  s y m b o l i c e c o n o m y through the disruption of static s o c i a l c o d e s : a "semiotization of the s y m b o l i c " that introduces prohibited jouissance  into the liminal m o m e n t . E n g a g e d in the  signifying p r o c e s s , the m u s i c i a n enters the "matrix s p a c e , "  15  a s p a c e incorporating mind  a n d body, m a s c u l i n e a n d feminine, harmony a n d n o i s e , abjection a n d purification, to create the irreducible difference of s o n i c  jouissance.  104  Notes  1  Anne Carson, 'The Gender of Sound" 69.  2  Duke Ellington, Music is My Mistress 39.  3  Kristeva is describing the abject in general terms in this passage.  4  Anne Carson, "Putting Her in Her Place: Woman, Dirt, and Desire" 158.  5  The significance of stammering and the stutter is discussed in Chapter three in relation to  women improvisers. Russo also suggests that the representation of the maternal body as fat and grotesque links it to  6  non-white, working-class bodies that are disavowed in prosperity. The Female Grotesque 24. 7  The paradigms are: monophonic/melodic; diaphonic; polyphonic/contrapuntal; triadic/functional;  and timbral. For a comprehensive discussion of Ellington's music and its reception see Graham Lock,  8  Blutopia 77-119. 9  Thanks to David Metzer for pointing out the transgressive qualities of Ellington's "jungle" or  "primitive" sounds and his suggestion that Ellington was aware of the ability of these sounds to evoke the abject. 10  Ellington, Music is My Mistress 39-40. Ellington includes the poem "What is Music?" in this  volume, which gives a different description of music that is more concrete, visual, masculine and universal.  105  11  For a comprehensive and insightful analysis of desire, drive, feminine subjectivity and  jouissance in relation to Odysseus and the Sirens see Renata Salecl, 'The Sirens and Feminine Jouissance" 14-35. 1 2  Renata Salecl discusses the difference between the voices of the Muses and the Sirens. The  Muses voice a memory of the past that is linked to a forgetfulness of past trauma, while the Sirens sing with knowledge of the trauma and the death-drive. "The Sirens and Feminine Jouissance" 17-18. 1 3  The description alludes to the earlier discussion of music as the phantom limb.  1 4  See the introduction for a more complete definition of signifiance.  1 5  By using Kristeva's trope "matrix space" in relation to artistic creativity I do not wish to  essentialize either creativity or procreativity, or unproblematically elide the two. As Hilde Hein points out: "Ironically, the language of procreation, commonly used to describe the activity of the artist, has been used in a manner that excludes women from that activity. Insemination, fertilization, conception, gestation, incubation, pregnancy, parturition—all parts of the birth process—are invoked to denote an activity that is also theologized as the paradigmatic male act of will, the imposition of form upon inchoate matter. Yet women, whose experience provides the source for all this linguistic speculation, have historically been found unfit for the creative act." 'The Role of Feminist Aesthetics in Feminist Theory" 458.  106  Chapter 3 Playing Like a Girl: The Queer Laughter of the Feminist Improvising Group  1  Culturally s p e a k i n g , w o m e n h a v e wept a great d e a l , but o n c e the tears are s h e d , there will be e n d l e s s laughter instead. Laughter that b r e a k s out, overflows, a humor no o n e w o u l d e x p e c t to find in w o m e n — w h i c h is n o n e t h e l e s s surely their greatest strength b e c a u s e it's a humor that s e e s m a n m u c h further a w a y than he h a s e v e r b e e n s e e n . —Helene Cixous  2  In G r e e k mythology there is a story of a n old w o m a n n a m e d B a u b o w h o , in a n effort to help D e m e t e r momentarily forget her grief o v e r the loss of her daughter P e r s e p h o n e , pulled her d r e s s up over her h e a d , e x p o s e d her genitals a n d s h o u t e d o b s c e n e remarks a n d dirty j o k e s .  3  Apparently the distraction w o r k e d s i n c e , a s a c c o u n t s  of the incident indicate, B a u b o ' s indecent g e s t u r e s a n d lewd c o m m e n t s c a u s e d D e m e t e r to laugh. S c h o l a r s s p e c u l a t e that this o b s c e n e s p e c t a c l e is replicated in a n u m b e r of terracotta statues dated roughly from the fourth century B . C . E . Depicting a c o l l a p s e d f e m a l e body that c o n s i s t s of virtually nothing but two orifices, the statues reflect the G r e e k belief that w o m e n p o s s e s s not o n e , but two mouths ( C a r s o n " S o u n d " 72). O n e mouth is, of c o u r s e , the o p e n i n g to the oral cavity; the other l e a d s to the c a v e r n o u s depths of the f e m a l e s e x . T h e anatomical deformity is strangely a c c e n t u a t e d by the reversal of the mouths o n the figures; that is, the "upper" mouth is situated in the statue's a b d o m e n , the "lower" positioned o n the top of her h e a d . A s poet a n d s c h o l a r  107  A n n e C a r s o n s u g g e s t s , the representation of B a u b o ' s aural a n d v i s u a l gesture reflects the g e n e r a l c o n f u s i o n surrounding the representation of the f e m a l e b o d y in a masculinist culture: T h i s B a u b o presents us with o n e s i m p l e chaotic d i a g r a m of a n outrageously manipulable f e m a l e identity. T h e doubling a n d interchangeability of mouth e n g e n d e r s a creature in w h o m s e x is c a n c e l l e d out by s o u n d a n d s o u n d is c a n c e l l e d out by s e x . ("Sound" 76) A c c o r d i n g to the l e g e n d , however, B a u b o is in control of the e r a s u r e . S h e u s e s the mutability of f e m a l e identity a n d the noise it m a k e s to disrupt the expectations a s s o c i a t e d with the passivity of the visible f e m a l e s p e c t a c l e . B a u b o ' s gesture o b s c u r e s her upper mouth to m a k e it a p p e a r a s though her lower mouth is d o i n g all the talking, enacting a strange ventriloquism that throws the v o i c e p r o d u c e d by her v o c a l folds into the folds of her labia. T h e s h o c k of B a u b o ' s aural/visual play ruptures the moment of viewing with a n u n e x p e c t e d interval—a stutter—that c r e a t e s a " z o n e of disruption a n d destabilization" a n d the s a m e kind of "revised m e t a p h y s i c s of rupture a n d o p e n i n g " d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r two in relation to the "cut," the "limp" a n d " w o m e n ' s time" (Buckley 60; S n e a d 217). T h e noise of the stutter shatters the silent repetition of the f e m a l e body by rupturing the expectations a n d predictability of its representation. T h e stutter resists fetishization, penetrates the e a r with the noise of the r e s i s t a n c e while it utters profanities that pollute patriarchal s p a c e . P e r h a p s this is w h y public s o u n d i n g s by w o m e n produce a great d e a l of anxiety: the s e x e d f e m a l e body b r e a k s the s i l e n c e of representation with its abject n o i s e . A s I a r g u e d in C h a p t e r o n e , the rupture of predictability is similarly e n a c t e d in the philobatic activity of laughter. J u l i a K r i s t e v a writes that the lifting of inhibition is a  108  practice of laughter, a s o n i c borderline state that d e s t a b i l i z e s the b o u n d a r i e s separating the c o n s c i o u s from the u n c o n s c i o u s , inside from outside (Revolution  225). Laughter a n d  the stutter are s o n i c twins in this respect, u n e v e n rhythms that linger at the threshold of s e n s e a n d n o n s e n s e . B a u b o ' s stutter is a laugh that e n g e n d e r s a s o n i c a n d somatic outpouring, a n invisible reversal that turns the body inside out. H e r actions e x c e e d specularity; her s o u n d s c o n f o u n d vision a n d defy a n a t o m i c a l e x p e c t a t i o n s . W h e n B a u b o laughs s o u n d b e c o m e s flesh, corporeal play b e c o m e s aural display, a n d sexuality is intoned. B a u b o ' s laughter c h a l l e n g e s the threshold of intelligibility a n d normality; s h e utters the limit, the p l a c e w h e r e the subject is both articulated a n d annihilated —inside/womb/life m e r g e s with outside/abjection/death. P e r h a p s this is w h y D e m e t e r d o u b l e d - o v e r in laughter: s h e got the joke. S o m e might interpret this allegory a s a warning: w o m e n w h o s o u n d in public are in d a n g e r of surrendering to the visibility of their s e x u a l difference by making a s p e c t a c l e of t h e m s e l v e s . W a s it appropriate for D e m e t e r to laugh g i v e n the c i r c u m s t a n c e s ? T h i s is a rhetorical question, of c o u r s e , s i n c e there is a l w a y s a risk involved a n y time a w o m a n o p e n s her mouth(s). B a u b o ' s action s u g g e s t s — a s d o e s D e m e t e r ' s reaction—that if the f e m a l e body is a l w a y s already s p e c t a c l e by virtue of her difference, then making a s p e c t a c l e of oneself by s o u n d i n g that difference is a crucial performance of a g e n c y . A s a critical reflection on the s o c i a l order a n d a pleasurable "interval of potentiality," "the e n d l e s s t e m p o of the stutter, refusing c l o s u r e , [is a] persistent reminder of what isn't yet but totters, virtual, o n the e d g e of its own b e c o m i n g " (Buckley 61). In his d i s c u s s i o n of B a u b o , M a u r i c e O l e n d e r identifies three a s p e c t s a s s o c i a t e d with s p e c t a c l e : gesture, desire a n d g a z e (89). W h e r e a n d with w h o m desire is located is  109  key to interpreting the s p e c t a c l e , s i n c e desire mediates the network of p o w e r relations that circulate a c r o s s the positions of s p e c t a c l e a n d spectator. It is B a u b o ' s desire to m a k e herself a s p e c t a c l e that disrupts the o n e - w a y g a z e of the spectator, a refusal to mirror the " s p e c u l a r logic of the s a m e " that defines the h e t e r o s e x u a l v o y e u r (Moi  Sexual  133). In turn, B a u b o ' s distraction attracts Demeter; it reminds her of a k n o w l e d g e that exists in e x c e s s of death, forgotten in her moment of grief, a n d her desire to r e s p o n d is aroused. T h u s the s o n i c e x c h a n g e of desire between B a u b o a n d D e m e t e r u n d e r s c o r e s the possibility of a n insurgent, noisy, a n d improvisational f e m a l e dialectic. It points to the p l e a s u r e a n d the p o w e r of transgressive s o u n d i n g , c h a l l e n g e s the silent repetition of the f e m a l e body, a n d questions the anxiety a s s o c i a t e d with f e m a l e n o i s e . T h e mutuality of desire o p e n s up the possibility of a visual a n d s o n i c e x c h a n g e that "disturbs any attempt to fix sexualities a n d identities, a n d , therefore, o p e r a t e s a s a kind of q u e e r i n g " ( R u s s e l l 179). T h e s o u n d s m a d e by e a c h w o m a n draw attention to a n d defy the conventions of the f e m a l e body, enacting a "perverse corporeality" ( R u s s e l l 178) that is linked to d i s c o u r s e s of the monstrous a n d grotesque d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r two. B a u b o ' s u n b e a t a b l e v o i c e a n d D e m e t e r ' s laughter are simultaneously e m b o d i e d a n d d i s e m b o d i e d , s o n i c markers of a n "active v a n i s h i n g " w h i c h is, a c c o r d i n g to M a r y R u s s o , " a c o n s c i o u s refusal to take the payoff of visibility" (48). A s o n e w o m a n e x p o s e s her flesh/voice to the other, a flesh/voice is e c h o e d back. T h e laughter quells the pain of death a n d the a c h e of abjection while it celebrates the s h a r p tongue, the promise of mutability, the flux of s o u n d . T h i s is a n antiphonal e x c h a n g e — a n e x c e s s i v e gesture, a q u e e r laughter—that b r e a k s D e m e t e r ' s s i l e n c e , reciprocates B a u b o ' s laugh a n d r e s o n a t e s with/in both w o m e n . T h e story of B a u b o is a s o u n d i n g of body politics that, a s  110  R u s s o s u g g e s t s , transforms the s p e c t a c l e of the f e m a l e body into active "multivalent, oppositional play" (62). F a s t forward to the 1970s: the l e g a c y of B a u b o a n d D e m e t e r r e s o n a t e s with/in w o m e n improvisers, w o m e n w h o c h o o s e to m a k e s p e c t a c l e s of t h e m s e l v e s by sounding body, sexuality, k n o w l e d g e , difference, f r e e d o m a n d e x p e r i e n c e : "to s m a s h everything, to shatter the framework of institutions, to blow up the law, to break up the 'truth' with laughter" ( C i x o u s "Decapitation" 258). B e g i n n i n g in 1977 this disruption w a s s o u n d e d in the q u e e r laughter of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p (FIG).  Improvising a F r e e S p a c e Within the E u r o p e a n m u s i c c o m m u n i t y interest in improvisational experimentation h a d d e v e l o p e d more than a d e c a d e earlier in the 1 9 6 0 s , piqued by the p r e s e n c e of A m e r i c a n expatriate free j a z z m u s i c i a n s , the d e s i r e of local improvisers to stretch b e y o n d the structures of idiomatic improvisation toward greater aesthetic f r e e d o m , a n d the disillusionment of improvisers with the growing commodification of m u s i c (Bailey xi-xii; P r e v o s t 10). P e r c u s s i o n i s t E d d i e P r e v o s t s u g g e s t s that although for s o m e E u r o p e a n improvisers j a z z w a s v i e w e d a s a "major artistic a n d ideological force within the d e v e l o p m e n t of a wider-ranging creative i m p r o v i s e d m u s i c " that continually struggled to " e s c a p e the confinement of a white-dominated capitalist culture," it too h a d b e g u n to solidify "into c o n v e n t i o n s that b e c a m e a s hard to e s c a p e a s the u n f r e e d o m s of c l a s s i c a l or popular m u s i c s " (10). T h e a p p e a l of f r e e d o m in improvisational practices reflected the e m e r g i n g political climate of the 1 9 6 0 s , a s improvisers b e g a n to d i s c a r d codified p r o c e d u r e s , including t h o s e found in j a z z improvisation, in favour of experimental practices. T h e s e  111  practices w e r e c o n c e r n e d not only with aesthetics but a l s o with political, e c o n o m i c a n d s o c i a l matters. Irene S c h w e i z e r recounts that this politically c h a r g e d time influenced her d e c i s i o n to stop playing "the c h a n g e s " a n d to l e a v e improvisational structures a n d s y s t e m s b e h i n d : " F o r m e , it w a s a natural d e v e l o p m e n t . W e h a d a l w a y s p l a y e d the m u s i c of the time. In 1968 a lot of things w e r e h a p p e n i n g in E u r o p e . T h e r e w e r e student revolutions. Barriers w e r e falling. It s e e m e d natural to want to free yourself" (Hale 15). Nathaniel M a c k e y o b s e r v e s a similar impulse in black m u s i c , particularly free j a z z , that c h a l l e n g e d the dominant culture while striving toward aesthetic, individual a n d collective f r e e d o m : During the sixties, assertions w e r e often m a d e to the effect that j a z z g r o u p s provided g l i m p s e s into the future. W h a t w a s meant by this w a s that black m u s i c — e s p e c i a l l y that of the sixties, with its h e a v y e m p h a s i s o n individual f r e e d o m within a collectively improvised c o n t e x t — p r o p o s e d a m o d e l s o c i a l order, a n ideal, e v e n utopic b a l a n c e b e t w e e n p e r s o n a l impulse a n d group d e m a n d s . (34) T h e parallel d e v e l o p m e n t of free j a z z in the United S t a t e s a n d free improvisation in E u r o p e s p e a k s of the ability of freely improvised m u s i c to cut a c r o s s aesthetic b o u n d a r i e s of containment a n d categorization. J a m e s S n e a d d e s c r i b e s this c o m m o n aesthetic impulse: T h e e x t e n s i o n of "free j a z z , " starting in the 1 9 6 0 s , into the technical practice of using the "material" qualities of s o u n d — o n the horns, for .  instance, using overtones, h a r m o n i c s a n d s u b t o n e s — b e c a m e almost mandatory for the serious j a z z m u s i c i a n a n d paralleled a similar  112  m o v e m e n t on the part of E u r o p e a n m u s i c i a n s b r a n c h i n g out of the c l a s s i c a l tradition. (222) A l t h o u g h the s i m u l t a n e o u s d e v e l o p m e n t of a congruent s o n i c aesthetic linked the practices of free j a z z a n d free improvisation together, it h a s s o m e t i m e s o b s c u r e d the fact that the two w e r e distinct—albeit interrelated—practices g r o u n d e d in different traditions a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . J o e l l e L e a n d r e explains the differences from a E u r o p e a n perspective: W e received free j a z z in E u r o p e at the time w h e n Ornette C o l e m a n a n d all the other players w e r e creating, but free j a z z is not free m u s i c , free j a z z is a B l a c k m u s i c too. F r e e m u s i c is, I think, definitely a E u r o p e a n m u s i c . W e h a v e a long history of the m u s i c , w e h a v e M o n t e v e r d i , w e h a v e Bartok, w e h a v e S t o c k h a u s e n , it's a long line [...  ] I think that this kind of m u s i c , free  m u s i c , is very m u c h a E u r o p e a n m u s i c , a n d w h e r e different p e o p l e c o m e from they bring their o w n w a y s to it. Y o u know, w e h a v e very wonderful j a z z m u s i c i a n s in F r a n c e , but they play the A m e r i c a n m u s i c , they don't play the E u r o p e a n m u s i c (laughs) but what I like is all this mixture. (Vickery 18) T h e s u g g e s t i o n here is that neither free j a z z nor free improvisation existed in a v a c u u m but neither w e r e they completely interchangeable. It is important to r e c o g n i z e that the hybridity a n d mixing of the practices did not o b s c u r e the differences, e s p e c i a l l y in regard to the intersection of aesthetic f r e e d o m with race a n d c l a s s . In free i m p r o v i s a t i o n — e x e r c i s e d within a predominately white, m a l e improvising c o m m u n i t y existing o n the margins of avant-garde a n d m a i n s t r e a m m u s i c — t h e m o v e m e n t toward f r e e d o m often contained a critique of c l a s s structures a n d power  113  networks e m b e d d e d in E u r o p e a n m u s i c a n d society. A l a n Durant writes that free improvisation "is a point of counter-identification against s y s t e m s of control, hierarchy a n d subordination" (270). A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n explorations of f r e e d o m in free j a z z , o n the other h a n d , actively critiqued a n d resisted racial a n d c l a s s o p p r e s s i o n within a historical continuum that c o n n e c t e d black m u s i c to the resistance of slavery a n d traced its m u s i c a l roots to A f r i c a : T h e m u s i c itself d e s c r i b e s the political position of B l a c k s in A m e r i c a just a s their position dictates their day-to-day life, the instruments they play a n d the p l a c e s w h e r e their m u s i c c a n be h e a r d . In the c a s e of AfricanA m e r i c a n music, the fact that the creators are the c o l o n i s e d in a colonialist society, h a s a vital bearing on the w a y the m u s i c h a s e v o l v e d , how it is r e g a r d e d by the world at large, a n d the w a y in w h i c h the artists are treated. (Wilmer, Serious  14)  Neither practice, however, e x t e n d e d their critiques to include the aesthetic, e c o n o m i c or political liberation of w o m e n . For the most part a practice of f r e e d o m that resisted g e n d e r o p p r e s s i o n a n d o p p r e s s i o n o n the b a s i s of s e x u a l difference w a s e x c l u d e d from the liberatory i m p u l s e s of m a l e - d o m i n a t e d improvising c o m m u n i t i e s . T h e opportunity for f r e e d o m in relation to s e x u a l difference, g e n d e r a n d sexuality for w o m e n improvisers w a s strangely a b s e n t from the d i s c o u r s e s a n d practices of both free j a z z a n d free improvisation. T h u s , it is difficult to d e s c r i b e accurately just how integral w o m e n ' s contributions to the d e v e l o p m e n t of free improvisation a n d free j a z z w e r e in the early d a y s , s i n c e w o m e n ' s participation w a s limited a n d remains u n d e r d o c u m e n t e d . Irene S c h w e i z e r often a c k n o w l e d g e s that, although s h e w a s the only f e m a l e instrumentalist o n the  114  E u r o p e a n s c e n e throughout the 1960s a n d the early 1 9 7 0 s , her contributions are c o n s p i c u o u s l y a b s e n t from historical a c c o u n t s : I h a d b e e n taking part in the F M P festival during its d e v e l o p m e n t in the '60s a n d '70s, being the only w o m a n on e v e r y festival. [...  ] There was a  photo exhibition about all the j a z z m u s i c i a n s from F M P festivals from 1968 to 1978, a n d not o n e single photo of m e e v e n though I took part every s e c o n d year. (Les Diaboliques) T h e particular c h a l l e n g e s e n c o u n t e r e d by w o m e n improvisers d u e to the effects of g e n d e r a n d s e x o p p r e s s i o n , including the gendering of w o m e n ' s p e r f o r m a n c e s a n d a u d i e n c e s a s feminine and/or lacking, are rarely a c k n o w l e d g e d . In Swing Shift: Bands ofthe  "All-Girl"  1940s, S h e r r i e T u c k e r d i s c u s s e s how "stories of devaluation a n d a b s e n c e  are w o v e n into the familiar rhythms of the popular history b o o k s about the S w i n g E r a " (3). A s with the majority of w o m e n m u s i c i a n s in a variety of g e n r e s throughout history, a l l - w o m e n s w i n g b a n d s w e r e either omitted from historical a c c o u n t s , treated a s novelties, or c o n s i d e r e d inauthentic b e c a u s e they w e r e a s s u m e d to lack ability by virtue of their s e x u a l difference. A n g e l a D a v i s a l s o notes a masculinist bias in the historical a n d critical a c c o u n t s of the blues, that fails "to take seriously the efforts of w o m e n blues m u s i c i a n s a n d the f e m a l e reception of their work. A s a c o n s e q u e n c e , the central part played by w o m e n both in the blues a n d in the history of A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n cultural c o n s c i o u s n e s s is often ignored" (44-45). Similarly, c h r o n i c l e s of free improvisation a n d free j a z z from a variety of s o u r c e s — i n c l u d i n g D e r e k B a i l e y ' s Improvisation:  Its Nature and Practice  J o h n Litweiler's c l a s s i c book on free j a z z , The Freedom  Principle:  in  Music*  Jazz After 1958; the  more recent work of K e v i n W h i t e h e a d in New Dutch Swing, d o c u m e n t i n g the s c e n e in  115  H o l l a n d ; a s well a s J o h n Corbett's provocative article " E p h e m e r a U n d e r s c o r e d : Writing A r o u n d F r e e Improvisation"—pay little or no attention to the m u s i c ' s f e m a l e constituents. P e r h a p s b e c a u s e improvisationally-based m u s i c struggled from the beginning for recognition, its practices a n d d o c u m e n t s h a v e not a l w a y s b e e n liberatory, often reduplicating the marginalization a n d e x c l u s i o n w o m e n face(d) in more mainstream m u s i c a l structures a n d in patriarchal society at large. B y contrast, V a l W i l m e r ' s c l a s s i c book As Serious as Your Life d o c u m e n t s the e x p e r i e n c e s of w o m e n in a n d a r o u n d the "new j a z z " in A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n communities. W i l m e r ' s a p p r o a c h is twofold: s h e writes of w o m e n ' s e x p e r i e n c e s a s support s y s t e m s for their male m u s i c i a n partners a n d of their struggles a s players trying to c o p e with a male d o m i n a t e d s c e n e . S h e p a y s particular attention to the intersections of race a n d c l a s s with g e n d e r a n d s e x u a l difference, unearthing differences in the e x p e r i e n c e s a n d attitudes of both white a n d black w o m e n . Although the f o c u s o n w o m e n is not the core of W i l m e r ' s project, it is extensive e n o u g h to paint a n a c c u r a t e , yet s o m e w h a t bleak, portrait of w o m e n ' s position in a n d relation to m e n a n d improvisation. W i l m e r reports that m a n y w o m e n g a v e up their own artistic ambitions to support their m e n . W h e n they did venture out to play in c l u b s the reception w a s often l u k e - w a r m , a n d a s W i l m e r points out, the s k e p t i c i s m that scrutinized a n d d e v a l u e d w o m e n ' s playing is s u m m e d up in the c o m m e n t : " Y o u s o u n d g o o d — f o r a w o m a n ! " (204). B y raising the i s s u e of s e x u a l politics in free j a z z , W i l m e r a l s o unearthed the s e x u a l politics of m u s i c criticism. S h e recounts that after writing t h e s e p a s s a g e s on w o m e n in her book, male critics criticized her for being insufficiently "feminist." S h e d e s c r i b e s her d i l e m m a :  116  It w a s true that I h a d dwelt on w o m e n ' s supportive role rather than participatory contribution, but a s s o m e o n e pointed out, j a z z wasn't exactly a feminist a r e a of e n d e a v o r . M a n y ' s the time I h a v e w i s h e d that I c o u l d rewrite that particular part of the book with a more thorough a n a l y s i s of w o m e n ' s position. It w a s a n intervention, though, a n d by a n d large, the r e s p o n s e to As Serious w a s positive. (Mama  287-288)  T h i s reflection a p p e a r s in W i l m e r ' s s u b s e q u e n t book, Mama Said There'd  Be Days  Like  This: My Life In the Jazz World, a p e r s o n a l history centering o n a y o u n g girl's p a s s i o n for j a z z that d e v e l o p s into a life-long commitment to the m u s i c . Writing from her o w n perspective a s a white, l e s b i a n , w o r k i n g - c l a s s w o m a n photographer a n d writer, W i l m e r details the c o m p l e x negotiations required to navigate the world of j a z z . T h e result is a s u p e r b descriptive journey that m o v e s the reader through a n u m b e r of s e e m i n g l y i n c o m m e n s u r a b l e c o m m u n i t i e s simultaneously. T h e exploration of her c o m p l e x , shifting s e l v e s consistently questions white, h e t e r o s e x u a l , m i d d l e - c l a s s notions of identity, community a n d m u s i c a n d d e m o n s t r a t e s alternative possibilities of c o m m u n i t y a n d c a r e . T h e narrative brings to mind Minnie B r u c e Pratt's "Identity: S k i n B l o o d Heart," i n a s m u c h a s W i l m e r rewrites herself "in relation to shifting interpersonal a n d political contexts" that e n a b l e her to construct " a notion of c o m m u n i t y a s inherently unstable a n d contextual, not b a s e d o n s a m e n e s s or e s s e n t i a l c o n n e c t i o n s , but offering a g e n c y instead of passivity; a c o m m u n i t y that is 'the product of work, of struggle [...]  of interpretation'" (de  Lauretis " E c c e n t r i c " 12-13). T h i s is the vision a n d possibility of c o m m u n i t y w h e n the struggle toward f r e e d o m includes the intersections of s e x , g e n d e r , a n d sexuality, in addition to race a n d c l a s s .  117  P l a y i n g the P e r s o n a l is Political T h e impetus to gather a group of w o m e n improvisers together into a collective w a s g a l v a n i z e d by the glaring a b s e n c e of w o m e n improvisers en masse in performance situations. At a m u s i c i a n ' s union meeting in L o n d o n , vocalist M a g g i e N i c o l s e x p r e s s e d her d e s i r e to explore improvisation with other w o m e n to multi-instrumentalist/composer L i n d s a y C o o p e r (Nicols). E v e n with the e m e r g e n c e of a b u r g e o n i n g " w o m e n ' s m u s i c " s c e n e , C o o p e r a n d N i c o l s r e c o g n i z e d the glaring a b s e n c e of w o m e n improvisers: " W e got talking a n d w e a g r e e d that improvisation h a d b e c o m e very important a n d no w o m e n w e r e doing it. A n d s u d d e n l y w e thought, well let's do it! Let's get w o m e n together a n d d o it o u r s e l v e s ! " (Cooper) Involvement in the feminist movement, c o u p l e d with a strong commitment to c l a s s politics a n d l e s b i a n activism, e n c o u r a g e d N i c o l s a n d C o o p e r to c o m m i n g l e the p e r s o n a l a n d the political within a n improvisational context. A l t h o u g h both w o m e n performed extensively with m e n , their e x p e r i e n c e playing with other w o m e n w a s very limited. N i c o l s w o n d e r e d out loud what the e x p e r i e n c e of playing with w o m e n w o u l d be like: W e r e c o g n i z e d that w o m e n w e r e being e x c l u d e d a n d w e w a n t e d to just e x p e r i e n c e what it w a s like to play with other w o m e n . O n e of the strongest things for m e that c a m e out of the W o m e n ' s Liberation M o v e m e n t w a s the recognition of the c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n the p e r s o n a l a n d the political. S o to s a y for m e that it w a s a p e r s o n a l thing w a s a l s o political. I w a n t e d to feel the intimacy musically that I felt with w o m e n . Y o u know w h e n y o u h a n g out with w o m e n , that quality of s h a r e d e x p e r i e n c e . H o w w o u l d that translate artistically? (Nicols P e r s o n a l Interview)  118  It w a s N i c o l s ' a p p r o a c h to improvisation—an o p e n n e s s to inclusivity inspired by the philosophy a n d practice of her mentor a n d friend, d r u m m e r J o h n S t e v e n s — t h a t initially s h a p e d the group. N i c o l s e n v i s i o n e d a n o p e n a n d c h a n g i n g pool of w o m e n m u s i c i a n s that would bring a w i d e range of a p p r o a c h e s to improvisation, varied e x p e r i e n c e to technical facility, a n d stylistic diversity to s p o n t a n e o u s p e r f o r m a n c e s . T h e initial pool of m u s i c i a n s c o n s i s t e d of C o o p e r , N i c o l s , C o r i n e L i e n s o l , G e o r g i e B o r n a n d C a t h y Williams. Irene S c h w e i z e r a n d S a l l y Potter joined the Feminist Improvising G r o u p in the spring of 1978, a n d A n n e m a r i e R o e l o f s , Frankie A r m s t r o n g , A n g e l e Veltmeijer a n d F r a n c o i s e Dupety participated intermittently to form a variety of c o m b i n a t i o n s of up to eight w o m e n improvising together in a n y given p e r f o r m a n c e .  5  N i c o l s a r r a n g e d the first public p e r f o r m a n c e of a n entirely f e m a l e group of improvisers during a M u s i c for S o c i a l i s m concert at the Almost  Free in L o n d o n (Wilmer  Mama 284). W h e n the leaflet advertising the concert a p p e a r e d , the n a m e of the group w a s listed a s the Feminist Improvising G r o u p , a n a m e neither N i c o l s nor C o o p e r had chosen: W e didn't call o u r s e l v e s the Feminist Improvising G r o u p . W e w e r e going to call o u r s e l v e s the W o m e n ' s Improvising G r o u p but the promoters of the M u s i c for S o c i a l i s m event g a v e us that n a m e ! S o w e grew into it. W e actually took it on board. It w a s very strange that m e n g a v e us the n a m e . (Nicols L e s Diaboliques) Nicols' s u s p i c i o n of the feminist label w a s well f o u n d e d , s i n c e in the early d a y s of the m o v e m e n t f e m i n i s m w a s , in the w o r d s of T e r e s a de Lauretis, " a n c h o r e d to the single axis of g e n d e r a s s e x u a l difference" (10). Indeed, f e m i n i s m h a d p r e s e n t e d a singular, unified view of w o m a n that w a s problematic in the f a c e of differences b e t w e e n w o m e n  119  on the b a s i s of sexuality, race a n d c l a s s . N i c o l s puts it this w a y : "I w a s skeptical in regard to the feminist label. Not that I don't c o n s i d e r myself a feminist, but m o r e b e c a u s e of the a s s o c i a t i o n with d o g m a s " (Meier a n d Landolt 17). T h e feminist label c o u l d a l s o potentially polarize the s e x u a l politics already e m b e d d e d in improvisation a n d stigmatize w o m e n improvisers e v e n further. Y e t , on the other h a n d , the term "feminist" h a d its c h a r m . It w a s a s u b v e r s i v e a n d powerful moniker that w a s eventually adopted by the group, a s N i c o l s slyly recounts: " W e took on the c h a l l e n g e a n d w e thought okay, s o be it. Y o u want f e m i n i s m , we'll give y o u f e m i n i s m . A n d w e certainly did, s c i s s o r s a n d all!" (Les Diaboliques)  Improvising C o n s c i o u s n e s s T h e first p e r f o r m a n c e of F I G w a s p r e c e d e d by a sort of c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising w o r k s h o p in w h i c h the players d i s c u s s e d their feelings a n d e x p e r i e n c e s a s w o m e n . T h e d i s c u s s i o n w a s a catalyst for the pastiche of s o u n d s a n d i m a g e s that found their w a y into the improvisation: I s p o k e about being a mother, C o r i n e s p o k e about being treated like a child b e c a u s e of her disability, s o already w e h a d a mother-child s c e n a r i o w h i c h w e started the gig with. T h e others s p o k e of their particular personal/political i s s u e s a s w o m e n — a p p e a r a n c e , i m a g e , etc. W e brought kitchen props. It w a s a sort of prepared spontaneity that w a s a very powerful, anarchic, h u m o r o u s beginning. ( N i c o l s )  6  O n stage the w o m e n a p p e a r e d in drag, e n g a g e d in role-playing, performed d o m e s t i c c h o r e s , p e e l e d o n i o n s a n d s p r a y e d perfume. It w a s a p e r f o r m a n c e N i c o l s d e s c r i b e s a s "absolute a n a r c h y " :  120  T h e p e o p l e w e r e s h o c k e d , b e c a u s e they felt the p o w e r that w a s e m e r g i n g from the w o m e n . W e did not d o that o n p u r p o s e . W e didn't e v e n realize o u r s e l v e s what w a s h a p p e n i n g . W e i m p r o v i s e d , but w e improvised our o w n lives a n d our b i o g r a p h i e s . W e p a r o d i e d our situation, perverted our d e p e n d e n c i e s a n d threw everything high into the air. (Meier a n d Landolt 17-18) Throwing everything high into the air w a s , for the Feminist Improvising G r o u p , the improvisation of a "critical method." T o u s e a c o m m o n cliche of the early feminist movement, it w a s a w a y they could m a k e their v o i c e s h e a r d . O n this level F I G a p p r o a c h e d improvisation a s a philobatic activity, a practice of s e l f - d i s c o v e r y a n d a p r o c e s s of collective negotiation, practices linked to the c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising groups of the 1 9 7 0 s . A l t h o u g h now d e b u n k e d a s ineffectual a n d e s s e n t i a l i s t — a marker of white, m i d d l e - c l a s s radical f e m i n i s m — e a r l y c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising g r o u p s c r e a t e d a s p a c e for w o m e n to unearth k n o w l e d g e that w a s subjugated a s a result of o p p r e s s i o n o n the b a s i s of g e n d e r a n d s e x u a l difference. It e n a b l e d w o m e n to experiment with a variety of power-sharing a r r a n g e m e n t s , to negotiate leadership a n d reimagine political practice.  7  H o w e v e r , a s A n g e l a D a v i s o b s e r v e s , the prioritizing of g e n d e r i s s u e s in feminist c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising g r o u p s often o b s c u r e d equally important i s s u e s of sexuality, race and class: C o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g groups affirmed the most dramatic insight of the early w o m e n ' s liberation movement: the p e r s o n a l is political. Individual w o m e n s h a r e d p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e s with the a i m of rendering explicit the underlying politics s h a p i n g w o m e n ' s lives. B e c a u s e of the c o m p l i c a t e d racial politics of the 1 9 6 0 s , w h i c h defined the w o m e n ' s m o v e m e n t a s  121  white, a n d b e c a u s e of its e m p h a s i s on p e r s o n a l micropolitics (often s e e n a s a retreat from the macropolitics of race), black w o m e n generally found it difficult to identify with the strategy of c o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g . (55) T e r e s a d e Lauretis points to the substantive contributions of w o m e n of colour a n d l e s b i a n s to c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising that shifted the e m p h a s i s a w a y from the n a r r o w n e s s of " p e r s o n a l micropolitics" toward a transformation of f e m i n i s m a s a "pursuit of c o n s c i o u s n e s s a n d political practice" ("Eccentric" 5). T h i s kind of c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising required a reconfiguration of c o n s c i o u s n e s s on the part of a subject w h o m o v e s b e y o n d the notion of "writing the self" toward " a p r o c e s s of struggle a n d interpretation, a rewriting of the self [. ..] in relation to a n e w understanding of c o m m u n i t y , of history, of culture" ("Eccentric" 18). A l t h o u g h its m e m b e r s w e r e predominantly white, they w e r e a l s o l e s b i a n a n d working c l a s s , thus the intersections of g e n d e r with race, c l a s s a n d sexuality w e r e important a s p e c t s of F I G improvisations. Issues f a c e d by black w o m e n improvisers in relation to socio-cultural struggles w e r e r e c o g n i z e d by white l e s b i a n s like N i c o l s , w h o f a c e d similar struggles in relation to sexuality: T h e r e are m a n y black f e m a l e m u s i c i a n s here in E u r o p e . W e c a n r e s e a r c h the history of black w o m e n in literature a n d it is a s h a m e for us white w o m e n that it took s o long to realize the e x p e r i e n c e of black w o m e n is different. B l a c k w o m e n h a v e to get a l o n g with a very difficult contradiction. T h e y are fighting the s e x i s m of black m e n but they want to s h o w solidarity with them b e c a u s e they are a l s o s u p p r e s s e d by r a c i s m . I believe the fight of black w o m e n is still a powerful, e x p l o s i v e fact. A n d it will not take long  122  until y o u will find black w o m e n b a n d s in i m p r o v i s e d m u s i c . (Meier a n d Landolt 18) A s well the straight m e m b e r s of F I G , if uninitiated in the politics of l e s b i a n sexuality, w e r e politicized by their lesbian c o m r a d e s , a s A n n e m a r i e R o e l o f s attests: I w a s not s o politically involved in H o l l a n d — b e s i d e s m a k i n g modern m u s i c — b u t I wasn't lesbian a n d I think that m a k e s a difference. [... T a l k i n g to L i n d s a y a n d M a g g i e [...]  ]  h e l p e d m e a lot in forming my thinking  at that time. A n d of c o u r s e that is what w a s h a p p e n i n g w h e n w e w e r e touring a n d d o i n g c o n c e r t s , they w e r e telling m e what w a s h a p p e n i n g , or they w e r e talking o v e r things in L o n d o n . In that c a s e it w a s m u c h more political than any m e n ' s group w h o w e r e just interested in playing m u s i c . For N i c o l s a c o m p r e h e n s i v e k n o w l e d g e of t h e s e intersections informed her improvisations: I s e e my m u s i c in c o n n e c t i o n to my political attitude. I a m a w o m a n a n d I identify myself with the workers m o v e m e n t . That is my s o c i a l b a c k g r o u n d . In addition I h a v e l e a r n e d about s o c i a l privileges a n d r e c o g n i z e I h a v e privileges a s a white w o m a n in our society. I think I w a n t e d to c r o s s b o u n d a r i e s in m a n y w a y s : s o c i a l , emotional a n d in m u s i c . That is difficult to c o n v e y o p e n l y to a n a u d i e n c e . T h a t ' s w h y y o u h a v e to be committed to the s o c i a l environment y o u are a part of. I m e a n the political environment a s well. Y o u n e e d to know what's going o n a r o u n d y o u , w h i c h political d i s c u s s i o n s are taking place. (Meier a n d Landolt 18) F I G p e r f o r m a n c e s s t a g e d n u m e r o u s p a r o d i e s that dealt with the intersections of gender, race a n d c l a s s . T h e s c e n a r i o s t a g e d b e t w e e n N i c o l s (a white w o m a n ) a n d  123  L i e n s o l (a black w o m a n ) d e s c r i b e d a b o v e c a n be read not only a s a parody of the infantilization of a w o m a n with a disability, but a s a n indictment of the racial politics of the early feminist m o v e m e n t illustrated by the infantilization of a black w o m a n by a n authoritative white w o m a n . F I G a l s o offered a critique of w h i t e n e s s in p a r o d i e s of m i d d l e - c l a s s domesticity. T h e incorporation of e v e r y d a y d o m e s t i c "found" objects s u c h as vacuum-cleaners, brooms, dustpans and egg slicers—in Lindsay Cooper's words transforming "the s o u n d ' s of w o m e n ' s work into a work of w o m e n ' s s o u n d s " — highlighted w o m e n ' s work in the private s p h e r e a s well a s the subordination of working c l a s s w o m e n a s d o m e s t i c s (Wilmer Mama 285). F I G u s e d drag to critique a n d parody the institution of c o m p u l s o r y heterosexuality that existed not only in society but in various forms of m u s i c a s well: " T o concentrate while singing [Nicols] usually puts her h a n d s o v e r her b r o k e n fly. [...]  S a l l y is "sweet" a n d " d e m u r e " in a w e l l - k n o w n hetero  love s o n g " (Jankowski). T h i s set the s t a g e for role-playing a n d interactions b e t w e e n m e m b e r s of the group that c h a l l e n g e d heteronormative roles, c a u s i n g o n e reviewer to c o m m e n t : " O n s t a g e , they often touch e a c h other. A lot of 'acts,' 'fights' a n d h u g s e n d e d up o n the s t a g e floor tonight" (Jankowski). B y violating t a b o o s of m u s i c a l propriety a n d masculinist competition that prohibited m u s i c i a n s from touching o n e another, F I G more than hinted at the possibility of s e n s u o u s a n d s e x u a l relationships b e t w e e n w o m e n . T h e integration of l e s b i a n sexuality into the improvisational text e n a b l e d the Feminist Improvising G r o u p to a s k , "what gets lost w h e n [a w o m a n ] a n d her m u s i c are studied in the ' c o m p a n y of m e n , ' a n d what is recuperated w h e n [a w o m a n ] joins 'the c o m p a n y of w o m e n ? ' " ( M o c k u s 52). Following this trajectory Irene S c h w e i z e r q u e s t i o n e d the a s s u m p t i o n s that constructed the world of j a z z a n d improvised m u s i c a s h e t e r o s e x u a l :  124  W h y are s o few j a z z m u s i c i a n s g a y ? T h i s question h a s never b e e n a s k e d . T h e j a z z m u s i c i a n h a s a totally different i m a g e . H e h a s to act m a c h o : to r e a d the notes with o n e e y e a n d to p e e k a r o u n d in the a u d i e n c e for nice w o m e n . With improvised m u s i c the c o n s c i o u s n e s s of m u s i c i a n s h a s c h a n g e d a little bit. T h e r e are s o m e e m a n c i p a t e d m e n : G e o r g e L e w i s , M a a r t e n A l t e n a , Lol C o x h i l l . But g a y m u s i c i a n s ? E v e n if they w e r e gay, they wouldn't be s h o w i n g it. T h e r e are s o m e e x c e p t i o n s like C e c i l Taylor, but there are not many. (Meier a n d Landolt 17) T h e decentering of heterosexual interactions that are a s s u m e d to exist in a n d around m u s i c a l p e r f o r m a n c e s o p e n e d possibilities for lesbian interactions. In effect FIG q u e e r e d the s p a c e of improvisational practice. If, a s M a r y R u s s o s u g g e s t s , f r e e d o m is the ability to o c c u p y s p a c e , the Feminist Improvising G r o u p w a s a b l e to c l a i m a s p a c e for lesbian sexuality in improvisation, a s Nicols explains: " W e are not l e s b i a n s [on the m u s i c s c e n e ] by c h a n c e . That has s o m e t h i n g to do with a u t o n o m y . [...]  T h e lesbians  w e r e pioneers a n d had to be lesbian." (Meier a n d Landolt 18) F I G p e r f o r m a n c e s e n a c t e d a rewriting of self a n d c o m m u n i t y by improvising a feminist c o n s c i o u s n e s s "attained through practices of political a n d p e r s o n a l d i s p l a c e m e n t a c r o s s b o u n d a r i e s b e t w e e n s o c i o s e x u a l identities a n d c o m m u n i t i e s , b e t w e e n b o d i e s a n d d i s c o u r s e s " (de Lauretis " E c c e n t r i c " 18). In other w o r d s the p e r f o r m a n c e s of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p w e r e improvisational stutters, a polyphony of ruptures, a q u e e r laughter that (re)sounded g e n d e r , s e x u a l difference, race, c l a s s a n d sexuality.  125  E c h o e s a n d Stutters F I G ' s performative stuttering is informed by the stutters of the w o m e n m u s i c i a n s w h o p r e c e d e d t h e m , particularly black w o m e n improvisers in blues a n d j a z z . Patricia Hill C o l l i n s notes that historically A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n w o m e n h a v e u s e d m u s i c , literature, dialogue a n d e v e r y d a y e x p e r i e n c e s to construct a black feminist c o n s c i o u s n e s s , in r e s p o n s e to the s u p p r e s s i o n of their k n o w l e d g e (252, 267). A n g e l a D a v i s finds a particularly strong e x a m p l e of this black feminist c o n s c i o u s n e s s in the p e r f o r m a n c e s of A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n blues singers of the 1 9 2 0 s a n d 1 9 3 0 s . F o r D a v i s it is important "to understand w o m e n ' s blues a s a w o r k i n g - c l a s s form that anticipates the politicization of the " p e r s o n a l " through the d y n a m i c of " c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising," a p h e n o m e n o n a s s o c i a t e d with the w o m e n ' s m o v e m e n t of the last three d e c a d e s " (42). B l u e s w o m e n c h a l l e n g e d dominant cultural n o r m s a s they s a n g s o n g s that articulated a n d c o n t e s t e d the o p p r e s s i v e structures that p e r v a d e d their lives. W o m e n ' s blues t h e m e s dealt extensively with i s s u e s of race, c l a s s a n d sexuality in a feminist reconfiguration of a n A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n aesthetic, a s D a v i s e x p l a i n s : A p r o c e s s similar to the c o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g strategies a s s o c i a t e d with the 1 9 6 0 s w o m e n ' s liberation m o v e m e n t unfolds in [blues] s o n g s , w h i c h are c o n v e r s a t i o n s a m o n g w o m e n about m a l e b e h a v i o u r in w h i c h the traditional c a l l - a n d - r e s p o n s e structure of W e s t A f r i c a n - b a s e d m u s i c takes o n a new feminist m e a n i n g . [...]  it is p o s s i b l e to detect w a y s in w h i c h the  sharing of p e r s o n a l relationships in blues culture prefigured c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising a n d its insights about the s o c i a l construction of individual e x p e r i e n c e . S e e n in this light, the b l u e s w o m e n c a n be  126  understood a s being responsible for the d i s s e m i n a t i o n of attitudes toward m a l e s u p r e m a c y that h a d decidedly feminist implications. (55) T h e notion of c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising through the technique of call a n d r e s p o n s e points to the g e n e r a l importance of dialogue in the A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n community, a dialogue that C o l l i n s s u g g e s t s is a crucial c o m p o n e n t in the d e v e l o p m e n t of a c o n n e c t e d knowing that affirms e a c h p e r s o n ' s individuality (261). C a l l a n d r e s p o n s e is a n "interpretive framework" that d e m o n s t r a t e s a n a w a r e n e s s of the d y n a m i c c o n n e c t i o n of the individual to the community, e v i d e n c e d from a n aesthetic standpoint in the intricacy of Africanb a s e d polyrhythms. T h e s e multiplicitous, intersecting rhythms e n a b l e " p e o p l e [to] distinguish t h e m s e l v e s from e a c h other while they remain d y n a m i c a l l y related," exemplifying " p e r s o n a l e x p r e s s i v e n e s s a n d individuality without sacrificing a c o m m u n a l c o n n e c t i o n " (Chernoff 125; C o l l i n s 236). In other w o r d s , a s P a u l Gilroy elaborates, there is a democratic, communitarian m o m e n t e n s h r i n e d in the practice of antiphony w h i c h s y m b o l i z e s a n d anticipates (but d o e s not guarantee) new, non-dominating s o c i a l relationships. L i n e s b e t w e e n self a n d other a r e blurred a n d s p e c i a l forms of p l e a s u r e are c r e a t e d a s a result of the meetings a n d c o n v e r s a t i o n s that are e s t a b l i s h e d b e t w e e n o n e fractured, incomplete racial self a n d others. (79) Collins a n a l y z e s the creative rearticulation of k n o w l e d g e production d e v e l o p e d by marginalized black subjects in r e s p o n s e to the call of a dominant culture that subjugates their k n o w l e d g e . Exploring epistemology from the standpoint of A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n f e m i n i s m , s h e identifies four interrelated frameworks or " d i m e n s i o n s " that construct a black feminist e p i s t e m o l o g y through call a n d r e s p o n s e : "the u s e of dialogue," d i s c u s s e d a b o v e ; "lived e x p e r i e n c e a s a criterion of m e a n i n g " ; "the ethic of caring"; a n d "the ethic  127  of p e r s o n a l accountability." T h e s e c a n be effectively u s e d to d e v e l o p similar p a r a d i g m s for other marginalized groups (266). C o l l i n s s u g g e s t s that the evocation of lived e x p e r i e n c e a s a criterion of m e a n i n g signals the integral part w i s d o m plays in defining k n o w l e d g e for A f r i c a n - A m e r i c a n w o m e n . S h e notes that the distinction b e t w e e n k n o w l e d g e a n d w i s d o m is mediated through e x p e r i e n c e s u c h that the intersection of o p p r e s s i v e structures, a s they pertain to both individuals a n d c o m m u n i t i e s , c a n be a s s e s s e d more effectively: " [ k n o w l e d g e without w i s d o m is a d e q u a t e for the powerful, but w i s d o m is e s s e n t i a l to the survival of the subordinate" (257). T h u s the merits of k n o w l e d g e are verified through lived e x p e r i e n c e in a continuum that informs a n d transforms both, creating fresh perspectives that lead to further inquiry (258). F a r from a n essentialist notion, e x p e r i e n c e u s e d a s a criterion of m e a n i n g e n s u r e s that the intersections of k n o w l e d g e , w i s d o m a n d e x p e r i e n c e create spatial configurations that e n c o m p a s s body a n d mind, a c o n n e c t e d knowing that m o v e s b e y o n d the o n e - d i m e n s i o n a l a s s u m p t i o n s of h e g e m o n i c knowledge. C o l l i n s affirms that black w o m e n are generally s u p p o r t e d a s individuals within their families a n d communities, w h o m a k e room for w o m e n ' s k n o w l e d g e , e x p e r i e n c e a n d w i s d o m to be articulated in various contexts. S h e e x p l a i n s that white w o m e n may be d i s a d v a n t a g e d in this regard: W h i l e White w o m e n m a y v a l u e lived e x p e r i e n c e , it is questionable whether c o m p a r a b l e support c o m e s from W h i t e families—particularly m i d d l e - c l a s s families w h e r e privatization is s o highly v a l u e d — a n d other s o c i a l institutions controlled by W h i t e s that a d v a n c e similar v a l u e s . (260)  128  T h i s point illustrates the fact that c o m p l e x networks of p o w e r / k n o w l e d g e are pervasive in w o m e n ' s lives, although they manifest t h e m s e l v e s differently in relation to g e n d e r , c l a s s , race a n d sexuality. C o l l i n s notes the similarities a s well a s the differences, to c o n c l u d e that "similarity s u g g e s t s that the actual contours of intersecting o p p r e s s i o n s c a n vary dramatically a n d yet generate s o m e uniformity in the e p i s t e m o l o g i e s u s e d by subordinate g r o u p s " (269). S h e d e s c r i b e s t h e s e alternate e p i s t e m o l o g i e s a s markers of a "transversal politics" that "pivots the center" by a c k n o w l e d g i n g that no o n e g r o u p — o r individual for that matter—has c o m p l e t e a n d infallible k n o w l e d g e : "partiality, a n d not universality, is the condition of being h e a r d " (270). Dialogical a n d partial alternative e p i s t e m o l o g i e s e n s u r e the affirmation of a c o m m u n i t y without sacrificing the individual, a point that D a v i s identifies a s o n e of the most c o m p e l l i n g a s p e c t s of w o m e n ' s blues. D a v i s maintains that w o m e n ' s blues reflect the contradictory realities of c o m m u n i t y a n d subjectivity. S h e applies C o l l i n s ' interpretive f r a m e w o r k s outlined a b o v e , arguing that the blues are e m b e d d e d in a n ethic of caring a n d a n ethic of p e r s o n a l accountability, informed by lived e x p e r i e n c e a n d e x p r e s s e d in call a n d r e s p o n s e . W o m e n ' s blues articulate the complexities of self-reflexivity a l o n g s i d e the d y n a m i c s of relationships that are negotiated c o m m u n a l l y — w o m a n to w o m a n , w o m a n to m a n . F r o m s o c i a l , political, e c o n o m i c a n d s e x u a l standpoints, blues s i n g e r s l e a v e no stone unturned, singing of everything from a n t a g o n i s m , friendship, rivalry, m o n e y , solidarity a n d travel to hetero- a n d h o m o s e x u a l love. A c c o r d i n g to D a v i s , the complexity of topics d i s c u s s e d in the blues u n d e r s c o r e s the "historical construction of black w o r k i n g - c l a s s individuality" that w a s forged in the contradictions p r e s e n t e d by the possibility of individual f r e e d o m a l o n g s i d e c o m m i t m e n t s to the c o m m u n i t y after e m a n c i p a t i o n from slavery (45-46). T h u s D a v i s s u g g e s t s that the dialectic b e t w e e n performer a n d a u d i e n c e  129  in w o m e n ' s blues "created a d i s c o u r s e that represented f r e e d o m in [.. .] immediate a n d a c c e s s i b l e terms" (7).  Improvising C a l l a n d R e s p o n s e F r e e improvisation offered a similar kind of immediate a n d a c c e s s i b l e f r e e d o m to the Feminist Improvising G r o u p . Improvisation s e r v e d a s a n "interpretive framework," a site for the negotiation of individuality a n d community through the multiplicitous interactions of improviser to improviser, improviser to a u d i e n c e , a s well a s a u d i e n c e to o n e another. Part of the collective's political a n d aesthetic p r o g r a m w a s to institute antiphonal e x c h a n g e b e t w e e n performers a n d a u d i e n c e s by c o n s c i o u s l y dismantling the divisions that s e p a r a t e d them, a power-sharing tactic that e x t e n d e d well b e y o n d the s t a g e . F o r F I G m e m b e r S a l l y Potter, breaking d o w n the division b e t w e e n the a u d i e n c e a n d the performer w a s a political strategy that e m e r g e d from a n a w a r e n e s s of feminist a n d c l a s s politics: Both the s p e c i a l n e s s a s c r i b e d to individual performers a n d the performer/audience divide itself are s e e n a s unhealthy s y m p t o m s of a c l a s s divided society, the performer taking a n honorary position of power. T h e strategy then b e c o m e s to break d o w n the divide a n d e m p h a s i z e participation a s a w a y of s a y i n g a n y o n e c a n d o it. (291) T h e i d e a that " a n y o n e c a n d o it" w a s often unpalatable to improvisers a n d a u d i e n c e m e m b e r s w h o v a l u e d the display of technical virtuosity a s the m a r k e r of improvisational c o m p e t e n c e a b o v e all e l s e . Improvising percussionist E d d i e P r e v o s t cautions against the t e n d e n c y he calls "technological elitism,'" insisting that improvisation requires  130  "dexterity of all kinds (social a s well a s technical)" (5). F o r N i c o l s the ability to integrate dexterity of all kinds into improvisation requires a skill s h e calls " s o c i a l virtuosity": F o r m e s o c i a l virtuosity—social skills really—is part of [what it takes] to c o m m u n i c a t e with a n a u d i e n c e a n d with other m u s i c i a n s . It a l s o involves the s o c i a l skills u s e d to live your life. H o w y o u are in the c o m m u n i t y a n d t h o s e sorts of things. B e i n g a b l e to h a v e that kind of creative spontaneity in every a s p e c t of your life. (Telephone Interview) For Irene S c h w e i z e r reading technical virtuosity through s o c i a l virtuosity provided a n opportunity to redefine improvisation a n d invent n e w s t a n d a r d s : It is very important that w e all got the c h a n c e to play together. But there are a l s o problems: W h i c h m u s i c i a n s are y o u going to invite? W h i c h are the s t a n d a r d s y o u d e m a n d ? T e c h n i c a l brilliance? P r o f e s s i o n a l i s m ? E n t h u s i a s m ? Invention? Imagination? I would prefer a mixture of all. That's a n important gain of F I G . It defined new s t a n d a r d s . Until then t h e s e w e r e defined by m e n . (Meier a n d Landolt 18) P l a y i n g with s o c i a l virtuosity a n d challenging the p a r a m e t e r s of technical virtuosity w e r e w a y s in w h i c h the Feminist Improvising G r o u p c o u l d break d o w n the barriers between a u d i e n c e a n d performer a n d t r a n s g r e s s the threshold of m u s i c with w o m e n ' s noise. H o w e v e r , by improvising the s o c i a l , technical a n d s o n i c a s p e c t s of their p e r f o r m a n c e s in public F I G o p e n e d t h e m s e l v e s up to criticism. T h e i r explorations w e r e often q u e s t i o n e d by various c o m m u n i t i e s and/or individuals that intersected with their p e r f o r m a n c e s . T h e c h o i c e to explore a n d d e v e l o p new s t a n d a r d s o n s t a g e w a s at times misunderstood a s elitism or rejected a s i n c o m p e t e n c e :  131  T h e critics w e r e never m e d i u m , it w a s a l w a y s high calling our work very interesting stuff or it w a s absolutely low, the d e e p e s t s a y i n g , how c a n a festival h a v e t h e s e w o m e n ? [...]  I think L i n d s a y a n d M a g g i e would  certainly a g r e e that the feeling w e s o m e t i m e s felt w h e n the critics w e r e criticizing us w a s very denigrating. T h e y would s a y , t h e s e women, t h e s e m u s i c i a n s , t h e s e women,  not  argh, eight w o m e n o n s t a g e , o h g o d  what's h a p p e n i n g , get s o m e m e n out there! (Roelofs) Nicols, S c h w e i z e r a n d R o e l o f s a g r e e that the criticism r e c e i v e d from m e n h a d a divisive effect o n the group. N i c o l s r e m e m b e r s that the F I G c h a l l e n g e to "technological elitism" a n d fixed notions of " m u s i c a l c o m p e t e n c y " w a s often d i s m i s s e d by m a l e m u s i c i a n s : " W h e t h e r it w a s the j a z z community that s a i d to Irene a n d I, 'you a n d Irene are really great but e v e r y b o d y e l s e is c r a p ' or the more p r o g r e s s i v e rock ' H e n r y C o w ' people w h o would like what L i n d s a y a n d G e o r g i e w e r e doing a n d all that. S o , divide a n d rule."  8  S c h w e i z e r c a m e up against similar sentiments: S o m e p e o p l e a s k e d m e : " W h y d o y o u play with t h o s e w o m e n ? T h e y can't play a n d they're no g o o d a n d y o u don't h a v e to d o that. W h y d o y o u play with those w o m e n ? " It w a s a l w a y s difficult for m e to explain why, b e c a u s e for m e it w a s just important to play like this in a group of w o m e n a n d to support t h e m . For R o e l o f s the lack of support from m e n w a s disheartening but a l s o s u s p e c t : W e w e r e eight people, s o m e of w h o m w e r e g o o d players a n d s o m e of w h o m weren't s o e x p e r i e n c e d but w e r e politically very right a n d in terms of improvising p i c k e d up nice things. [FIG] w a s more like a sort of w o r k s h o p w h e r e p e o p l e of all different kinds of levels attended. That c o u l d certainly  132  be heard but, I don't know, m a y b e w e c o u l d h a v e h o p e d for more support from the m e n ' s s i d e . [They c o u l d h a v e said] well just k e e p o n going. But mostly the m e n s a i d it's no g o o d . I definitely think it's not only the musical level they w e r e talking about. I think it w a s felt a s a threat for a lot of m e n to just s e e s o m a n y w o m e n on s t a g e . O n e incident that s t a n d s out in the minds of all of the F I G m e m b e r s I interviewed w a s their p e r f o r m a n c e at the Total M u s i c Meeting in Berlin in 1979 a n d the r e s p o n s e of the well-known avant-garde m u s i c i a n A l e x a n d e r v o n S c h l i p p e n b a c h . N i c o l s d e s c r i b e s what h a p p e n e d a s s h e r e m e m b e r s it: H e c a m e up to us before the gig a n d he w a s kissing our h a n d s . N o w , w e did a p h e n o m e n a l gig there. I m e a n it w a s p h e n o m e n a l . It w a s m a d , it w a s a n a r c h i c . It w a s a mixture of g r a c e a n d c l u m s i n e s s [. ..] the a u d i e n c e loved it. T h e n w e found out from [the o r g a n i z e r ' s partner] that A l e x had g o n e to him a n d c o m p l a i n e d about us being there s a y i n g that he c o u l d h a v e found loads of m e n that would h a v e p l a y e d a lot better, that w e couldn't play our instruments. I m e a n this included Irene a n d A n n e m a r i e a n d L i n d s a y a n d myself! A n d it w a s the hypocrisy of that. S o L i n d s a y a n d I went to a w o m e n ' s festival in the s a m e p l a c e a n d w e went into the gents toilets a n d wrote graffiti all o v e r the gents toilets: " W a t c h out A l e x v o n S c h l i p p e n b a c h , w e ' v e got our s c i s s o r s ready." Y o u know, w e graffitied the gents toilets [laughs]. A n d it w a s only just recently that I started s p e a k i n g to him a g a i n b e c a u s e I thought I've got to let it g o . H e probably doesn't e v e n realize this.  133  T h e extent to w h i c h readings of F I G p e r f o r m a n c e s w e r e effected by g e n d e r a n d s e x u a l difference is difficult to a s s e s s or d i s s e c t . W a s there a masculinist m u s i c a l g a z e / e a r operative h e r e ? Did the d i s a v o w e d g e n d e r anxiety—related to the s p e c t a c l e of s o many u n s u p e r v i s e d a n d unpredictable w o m e n o n the s t a g e — r e s u r f a c e in the a c c u s a t i o n s of technical i n c o m p e t e n c e , lack of s p e e d a n d f l u e n c y ? Guitarist E u g e n e C h a d b o u r n e , w h o a l s o p l a y e d at the 1979 Total M u s i c M e e t i n g , s p e c u l a t e s that g e n d e r e d style a s well a s s e x u a l difference factored into the critical a s s e s s m e n t of F I G ' s p e r f o r m a n c e s , although t h e s e w e r e not the s o l e criteria: M y i m p r e s s i o n at the time w a s that the c o o l , in-crowd clique at the Total M u s i c M e e t i n g in Berlin wasn't into anything that w a s outside of what they w e r e d o i n g . [...]  T h i s w a s my m a i n e x p e r i e n c e with F I G b e c a u s e the  festival went o n over four nights a n d I think e a c h group p l a y e d three or four times. I w a s playing with the J a p a n e s e trumpeter Toshinori K o n d o a n d our m u s i c w a s not well liked by either this in-crowd of older players or the a u d i e n c e . T h e lack of support for F I G must o b v i o u s l y extend b e y o n d the b o u n d a r i e s of that group into the entire a r e a of w o m e n m u s i c i a n s .  [...]  I a m s u r e the lack of m e n o n s t a g e m a d e s o m e m e n feel e x c l u d e d . T h e n I g u e s s the next step is they listen to the m u s i c or w a t c h what is going o n with a n attitude, like let's s e e them prove t h e m s e l v e s .  9  A t the m o s t fundamental level m a l e improvisers regularly e x c l u d e d w o m e n from their g r o u p s , a n d , e v e n if the e x c l u s i o n w a s inadvertent, it w a s a l s o blatant. T h i s meant that the mere p r e s e n c e of F I G a s a n exclusively f e m a l e group stirred controversy in the improvising community. T h e e x t r e m e reactions to F I G p e r f o r m a n c e s r a i s e d questions about the level of anxiety attached to the " e x c l u s i o n " of m e n from F I G , the g e n e r a l lack  134  of support for w o m e n improvisers a n d the severity of critical r e s p o n s e . T h e s p e c t a c l e of w o m e n improvising without m e n t e n d e d to o v e r s h a d o w the improvisations t h e m s e l v e s a n d to o b s c u r e how the p e r f o r m a n c e s w e r e r e c e i v e d : It's a m a z i n g the n u m b e r of m e n that w e r e s a y i n g , " W h y are there no m e n ? " A n d yet nobody h a d e v e r d r e a m e d to think of a s k i n g w h y there w e r e m e n only [in groups]. T h e y ' d s a y well there are just no w o m e n a r o u n d . T h e r e ' s a kind of weird, twisted logic w h e r e b y m e n think it's not deliberate, w e haven't deliberately e x c l u d e d w o m e n . A n d that's e v e n more insidious b e c a u s e they just haven't thought about it. At least w e thought about it. (Nicols P e r s o n a l Interview) F I G d e m o n s t r a t e d that free improvisation w a s not free of masculinist t e n d e n c i e s or i m m u n e to g e n d e r anxieties. A l t h o u g h not all practices in improvisation reinforced g e n d e r a n d s e x difference, it is c l e a r that the position a n d participation of w o m e n in the d e v e l o p m e n t a n d d e p l o y m e n t of improvisational practices a n d c o d e s w a s , a n d to a great extent still is, tentative at best. Unfortunately, F I G w a s not i m m u n e to criticisms from feminist a u d i e n c e s w h o w e r e purportedly into " w o m e n ' s music." T h e dogmatic feminist g a z e that criticized F I G for being too virtuosic a n d abstract—interpreted a s m a c h o posturing a n d elitism—at times p l a g u e d t h e m . V a l W i l m e r recalls o n e of s e v e r a l frustrating incidents, w h e n the collective w a s performing at Drill Hall in L o n d o n a s part of a newly o r g a n i z e d W o m e n ' s Festival: T h e Drill Hall concert left m a n y w o m e n at a l o s s . It w a s a freewheeling, improvised p i e c e , p l a y e d by forthright m u s i c i a n s w h o obviously k n e w their instruments. But the "free m u s i c " idiom w a s u n k n o w n to most of the  135  a u d i e n c e , a n d the u n e a s e a n d uncertainty w e r e e x p r e s s e d about whether, being s o " i n a c c e s s i b l e , " theirs w a s a n elitist c o n c e p t . It w a s bitterly frustrating for the m u s i c i a n s involved to be rejected in this w a y . M o s t of t h e m h a d a history of struggle against m a l e refusal to allow t h e m a p l a c e o n the b a n d s t a n d . N o w , having s h o w n that not only c o u l d they play their instruments but w e r e e q u i p p e d to handle the m o s t d e m a n d i n g of c o n c e p t s , they w e r e under attack from the quarter w h e r e they most n e e d e d friends. (Mama  285)  T h e r e w e r e , of c o u r s e , m a n y favourable reactions to F I G improvisations by both w o m e n a n d m e n w h o attended the c o n c e r t s . F I G w a s a b l e to introduce feminist politics to a largely uninitiated group of m e n , a s well a s introduce free improvisation to a largely uninitiated group of w o m e n . Nicols cites F I G a s a n influence o n the improvisational group "Alterations" while C o o p e r recalls reactions from a w o m a n artist working in another m e d i u m : "I r e m e m b e r o n e gig F I G did, a n d a friend of m i n e t h a t I w a s working o n a film with s a i d : 'I don't know what o n earth you're doing but I like it.' A n d I thought well, that really is all y o u n e e d to s a y . " O v e r a l l , the Feminist Improvising G r o u p did play a n u m b e r of w o m e n ' s festivals, a n d to a majority of a l l - w o m e n a u d i e n c e s . In t h e s e p e r f o r m a n c e s they applied their skills of s o c i a l a n d technical virtuosity, improvising i s s u e s particular to w o m e n from c o m p l e x socio-political, e c o n o m i c a n d aesthetic p e r s p e c t i v e s : W o m e n , w h o did c o m e b e c a u s e w e w e r e w o m e n , trusted us b e c a u s e w e w e r e w o m e n , a n d through that started listening to the m u s i c . I know that b e c a u s e of that e x p e r i e n c e a lot of w o m e n went o n to listen to the w h o l e s p e c t r u m of improvised m u s i c , not just w o m e n ' s m u s i c . S o in a w a y w e  136  w e r e a m b a s s a d o r s for the m u s i c a s well. A n d I love the w a y — I ' m being ironic h e r e — w o m e n are not s e e n a s a n important a u d i e n c e . (Nicols P e r s o n a l Interview) T h e opportunity to play for w o m e n a u d i e n c e s b e c a m e a n opportunity to reconfigure the relationship b e t w e e n s p e c t a c l e a n d spectator apart from the typical s c e n a r i o of m a s c u l i n e d e s i r e . It w a s a c h a n c e for w o m e n to foreground their b o d i e s a n d their s o u n d s for the p l e a s u r e of other w o m e n . If w o m e n in the a u d i e n c e w e r e not particularly fluent in d e c i p h e r i n g the c o d e s of free improvisation, their fluency with the all too familiar tropes of the f e m a l e body a n d w o m e n ' s relationship to s o u n d w a s proficient. F I G ' s improvisations w e r e attuned to the facility of the a u d i e n c e to play with a n d against the c o d e s of r a c e , g e n d e r , sexuality, c l a s s a n d politics, a s well a s their facility to play with the aesthetic c o d e s of improvisation. P l a y i n g b e c a m e a reciprocal p r o c e s s , a spatial reconfiguration of s o n i c multiplicity a n d s o m a t i c polyphony, a call a n d r e s p o n s e b e t w e e n the individual improvisers a n d a c o m m u n i t y of listeners. T h i s is a solidarity that c r e a t e s what J u l i a K r i s t e v a refers to a s a "paradoxical community," a c o m m u n i t y that r e c o g n i z e s a n d respects difference: " W e try to help o n e another, all. But not a c o m m u n i t y that unifies a n d b a n a l i z e s . W e r e c o g n i z e o n e another a s [...]  strangers"  ( G u b e r m a n 41). In C h a p t e r five I d i s c u s s the implications of this recognition further. F I G w a s instrumental in e n c o u r a g i n g listeners/interpreters to negotiate the work from a q u e e r perspective. T h e revolutionary listener d e s c r i b e d by K r i s t e v a a s the "eternal a d o l e s c e n t " a n d d i s c u s s e d in the introduction to this project is a listener w h o r e s p o n d s to the antiphonal stutter of the performers with her o w n stuttering alterity. T h e s p e c t a c l e of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p w a s a q u e e r s o u n d i n g that d e m a n d e d q u e e r listening, a n antiphonal a n d erotic playing by e a r that h e a r d p l e a s u r e a n d desire  137  in the strange r e s o n a n c e s a n d s o n i c e x c h a n g e s of w o m a n ' s e m b o d i e d , lived e x p e r i e n c e . T h e r e is a moment during a F I G performance r e c o r d e d live at the S t o c k h o l m W o m e n ' s M u s i c Festival, in w h i c h the a u d i e n c e s p o n t a n e o u s l y r e s p o n d s to the s c r e a m s , wails a n d instrumental flurries of the players o n s t a g e with their o w n s h r i e k s a n d ululations.  10  T h e players pay attention to this r e s p o n s e a n d reciprocate  with/in a c a c o p h o n y of s o u n d : the flesh/voice of B a u b o e c h o e d in D e m e t e r ' s laugh. T h e p l e a s u r e a n d pain heard in the disruptive stutters of B a u b o a n d D e m e t e r are heard a g a i n in the p e r f o r m a n c e s of the Feminist Improvising G r o u p . T h e insurgent, noisy, f e m a l e s p e c t a c l e performed in ancient G r e e c e is (re)played in the q u e e r laughter of w o m e n improvisers, the improvised laughter of q u e e r w o m e n .  138  Notes  1  cf Iris Marion Young, Throwing Like a Girl and Other Essays in Feminist Philosophy and Social  Theory (Bloomington: Indiana University P, 1990) and Cate Poynton, 'Talking Like a Girl," eds., Sally MacArthur and Cate Poynton, Musics and Feminisms (Sydney: The Australian Music Centre, 1999) 119127. 2  Helene Cixous, Castration or Decapitation? 356.  3  For a comprehensive discussion of Baubo that includes the dating and significance of the  statues attributed to this story see Olender, "Aspects of Baubo" and accompanying plates. 4  A number of women I interviewed were bewildered by Bailey's omission of women improvisers  from this project. 5  Instrumentation was as follows: Lindsay Cooper bassoon, oboe, soprano sax; Maggie Nicols  voice, piano; Corine Liensol trumpet; Georgie Born bass, cello; Cathy Williams voice; Irene Schweizer piano; Sally Potter voice, alto sax; Annemarie Roelofs trombone, violin; Frankie Armstrong voice; Angele Veltmeijer flute, tenor, soprano and alto sax; Francoise Dupety guitar. 6  The source of this excerpt is an informal written correspondence with Nicols that was not part of  the formal interviews. Nicols recounts a more detailed description of the same scenario in her interview with Meier and Landolt. 7  Thanks to Becki Ross for this insight and for providing a perspective on the heterosexism and  racism that pervaded many consciousness raising groups of the time.  139  8  Henry Cow was a progressive rock band based in the UK during the 1970s whose personnel  included Georgie Born and Lindsay Cooper. The name of the band is a pun on the name of the American composer Henry Cowell. 9  Elsewhere in the interview Chadbourne refers to the prevailing FMP style as "old-school  macho." 1 0  See Appendix 3:1.  140  Chapter 4 Noise About Nothing: Hysteria and the Cry as Sonic Pathology and Protest  Y o u s e e how the hysterics cry. O n e c o u l d s a y this is m u c h n o i s e about nothing. —Jean-Martin Charcot  1  I h a v e a r g u e d throughout this project that phallogocentric culture marks w o m e n a s pathological not only by virtue of their visible difference, but a l s o b e c a u s e of the s o u n d s they m a k e . F e m a l e s o n i c pathology—that is, her cry, linguistic e x c e s s , improvisations, laughter a n d n o i s e — i s generally interpreted a s a n d / o r a s s o c i a t e d with abjection, abnormality a n d insanity. T h e hysteric is, by definition, a f e m a l e w h o is in turn defined a s hysterical: "[mjadwomen strain the semiotic c o d e s from w h i c h they e m e r g e , thereby throwing into high relief the a s s u m p t i o n c o n c e r n i n g m u s i c a l normality a n d r e a s o n from w h i c h they m u s t — b y definition—deviate" ( M c C l a r y Endings  86).  M u s i c o l o g i s t S u s a n M c C l a r y d e m o n s t r a t e s that historically c o m p o s e r s have represented the m a d w o m a n in o p e r a with e x c e s s i v e c h r o m a t i c i s m , florid ornamentation a n d "extravagant virtuosity," compositional d e v i c e s that deviate from a n d provide a stark contrast to the prevailing "diatonic narrative" of the work a s a w h o l e (Endings  9 2 , 100).  C h r o m a t i c , ornamental a n d virtuosic e x c e s s e s are the s o n i c corollaries of the abject feminine, a n d are subject to the political  processes  of sonic abjection—or  "frames" a s  M c C l a r y refers to t h e m — d e v i s e d by the m a l e c o m p o s e r . H e r a n a l y s i s of the m u s i c a l representation of s e v e r a l key " m a d w o m e n " in o p e r a s from the s e v e n t e e n t h to the early twentieth centuries t r a c e s the various d e v i c e s u s e d by c o m p o s e r s to frame the s o n i c  141  e x c e s s e s a s s o c i a t e d with the feminine. M c C l a r y o b s e r v e s that the control of c h r o m a t i c i s m within the s c o r e w a s a c c o m p l i s h e d with a variety of t e c h n i q u e s including the elimination of improvisation in the bel canto style a n d the appropriation of c h r o m a t i c i s m a s a feature of m a s c u l i n e virtuosity in instrumental styles of m u s i c (Endings  9 6 , 8 2 ) . S h e notes that the figure of the m a d w o m a n a l s o provided a n 2  opportunity for the c o m p o s e r to musically m i s b e h a v e (Endings  102).  A s d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r s o n e a n d two, the n e e d to control feminine e x c e s s in/of m u s i c finds its precedent in the n e e d to control the e x c e s s i v e qualities of a n y s o u n d that e s c a p e s the frame of logos. T r a n s g r e s s i v e s o u n d i n g b e y o n d the normalizing scrutiny of paternal l a n g u a g e , s y m b o l i c representation, a n d rationality is a sign of difference that in turn s i g n a l s the feminine a n d the pathological. T h e key to dismantling the f r a m e s that define, confine, a n d eventually s i l e n c e s o n i c e x c e s s requires a historical understanding of the relation b e t w e e n gender, s o u n d , representation a n d the most notorious "feminine" pathology of all—hysteria.  In the B e g i n n i n g w a s Hysteria C u m u l a t i v e r e s e a r c h o n hysteria h a s u n c o v e r e d i n n u m e r a b l e m e a n i n g s that h a v e b e e n written, r e a d , rewritten a n d reread for over a millennium, producing a n "interpretive o v e r l o a d " a c c o r d i n g to Elizabeth Bronfen in The Knotted Subject: Hysteria Discontents  and its  (101). Hysteria h a s proven to be a mutable affliction a n d a constantly  evolving p h e n o m e n o n , s h e a r g u e s , b e c a u s e the d i s c u r s i v e function of hysteria in m e d i c a l a n d aesthetic texts is a s important a n d c o m p l e x a s its n o s o l o g y . O n a n individual level the hysteric is reported to adapt her s y m p t o m s in a c c o r d a n c e with c h a n g e s in her immediate p s y c h o - s o c i a l situation, a constant mutation  142  that c o m p l i c a t e s the d i a g n o s i s a n d treatment of her affliction. O n a cultural level hysteria a d a p t s itself to the moral climate of the specific time it a p p e a r s in history. A s Bronfen s u g g e s t s , hysteria is performative: it performs the representational s y m p t o m s of the cultural e p o c h by pointing to the lack or deficiency in the interpretive s y s t e m itself. T h e r e are no consistent or universal s y m p t o m s of hysteria o n either a n individual or cultural level. H y s t e r i a is a constructed category that reflects the cultural climate in s y m p t o m s of the p s y c h e , the body, s o u n d a n d society. A l t h o u g h hysteria h a s a m e d i c a l history, it a l s o h a s a s o c i a l history that is e m b e d d e d within popular culture s u c h that scientific a n d cultural d i a g n o s e s a n d treatments are inextricably linked to o n e another. T h u s hysteria is a s m u c h a n illness of representation a s it is a n illness of the p s y c h e that reflects the social a n d cultural context in w h i c h it a p p e a r s (Bronfen 102-104). It is important to note that the s o c i a l history of hysteria includes i s s u e s related to s o u n d — t h a t is, hysteria is often identified with/as a n illness of s o n i c representation a n d a n inability toward language and meaning. T h e story of the identification a n d n a m i n g of hysteria h a s traditionally b e e n traced b a c k to H i p p o c r a t e s (Bronfen 105). Y e t , a s H e l e n K i n g c l a i m s , recent s c h o l a r s h i p reveals that in actuality the " G e n u i n e W o r k s of H i p p o c r a t e s " a r e a collection of texts written by multiple authors (3). King a l s o writes that recent r e e x a m i n a t i o n s of Hippocratic traditions a n d texts reveal that the actual d i a g n o s i s of hysteria attributed to H i p p o c r a t e s is questionable (5-7). R o y Porter picks up this thread to s u g g e s t that the nineteenth-century c h r o n i c l e s of hysteria written under the tutelage of C h a r c o t h a v e greatly influenced the e n s u i n g d i s c o u r s e s on hysteria: S u c h w o r k s h a v e a s s u m e d that the a n n a l s of m e d i c a l history, d o w n the centuries a n d a c r o s s the cultures, point to o u t c r o p s of a disorder now  143  identifiable a s hysteria, a n d that the m e d i c a l m i s s i o n of understanding, classifying a n d treating it c a n b e recounted a s a p r o g r e s s i o n from superstition to s c i e n c e , ignorance to expertise, prejudice to p s y c h o a n a l y s i s . (232) King a r g u e s that it is thus only by reclaiming a n d rethinking all texts a s s o c i a t e d with hysteria that w e c a n begin to formulate alternative q u e s t i o n s , a s well a s understandings of its m e a n i n g s over the centuries. M e d i c a l a c c o u n t s of a n affliction now c o m m o n l y c a l l e d hysteria are not merely d o c u m e n t s of " a fixed d i s e a s e entity calling a c r o s s the centuries," but rather a s e r i e s of texts in d i a l o g u e with e a c h other that repeat o n e particular story o v e r a n d over: Deaf to p l e a s from a n a t o m y a n d e x p e r i e n c e , the texts continue to tell one another the traditional stories. T h e l a n g u a g e m a y shift—the w o m b travels, v a p o r s rise, s y m p a t h y transmits s y m p t o m s through the body—but the m e s s a g e remains the s a m e : w o m e n are sick, a n d m e n write their b o d i e s . (64) T h u s , a s the story g o e s , w o m e n in patriarchal culture h a v e a l w a y s b e e n c o n s i d e r e d pathological, a pathology traced to the pathological f e m a l e b o d y a n d its mysterious interiority. T h e s y m p t o m s traditionally attributed to H i p p o c r a t e s ' d i a g n o s i s of hysteria have b e e n traced retrospectively, a s K i n g a n d Porter write, to a pathological motility of the f e m a l e reproductive o r g a n s . T h i s "wandering w o m b " w a s interpreted a s a sign of the dissatisfaction a n d r e s t l e s s n e s s of a certain a n d specific kind of f e m a l e — t h e unmarried w o m a n (King 8). T h e dissastified w o m b — c o n s i d e r e d to b e a " s m a l l , v o r a c i o u s a n i m a l , a foreign body that h a d dried up, lost weight, a n d c o m e u n h o o k e d " — w a s b e l i e v e d to roam  144  through the body of a s e x u a l l y frustrated or dissatisfied w o m a n , s u c h a s a w i d o w or "spinster," in s e a r c h of s u s t e n a n c e (Bronfen 105). T h e uncertainty left a w o m a n vulnerable to the d e m o n i c p o s s e s s i o n of a n i m a l s a n d a n i m a l spirits, producing a s y m p t o m a t o l o g y that ranged from s h o r t n e s s of breath to vomiting, l o s s of v o i c e , constricted throat a n d paralysis of the extremities. F r o m the beginning the c u r e for these s y m p t o m s — p e r h a p s the most consistent a s p e c t of the d i s c o u r s e o n hysteria throughout h i s t o r y — w a s p r e s c r i b e d with u n e q u i v o c a l fervor: the hysterical w o m a n n e e d e d the sobering influence of a n authoritative a n d rational m a l e figure, preferably a h u s b a n d (Bronfen 105). B r o n f e n reports that in the M i d d l e A g e s hysteria b e c a m e a s s o c i a t e d entirely with d e m o n i c p o s s e s s i o n . T h i s meant that w o m e n ' s hysterical hallucinations w e r e attributed to the internalization of the diabolical influences of evil spirits. T h u s f e m a l e pathology w a s e x t e n d e d b e y o n d the p h y s i c a l manifestations of s o c i a l d e v i a n c e ; it b e c a m e a n illness with a moral d i m e n s i o n , the hysteric believed to be a deceitful witch w h o lacked a s o u l . T h e prescription for this "daughter of the devil" w a s s e v e r e : s h e w a s interrogated, forced to c o n f e s s , subject to e x o r c i s m a n d other forms of p u n i s h m e n t (106-107). B y the s e v e n t e e n t h century another shift in the m e d i c a l d i s c o u r s e o n hysteria o c c u r r e d , a s p h y s i c i a n s o n c e a g a i n turned their "scientific" g a z e o n f e m a l e anatomy, attributing a multitude of s y m p t o m s to the interaction of v a p o u r s emitted by a troubled uterus with other o r g a n s . D i a g n o s i s often identified the brain a s the o r g a n most directly affected by a m i a s m i c uterus, c a u s i n g everything from l o s s of sight to mutism, paralysis, c o n v u l s i o n s , fainting spells, a n d motor impairment, a s well a s m e l a n c h o l y , anxiety a n d discontent (Bronfen 108). T h u s , the mental capacity of the f e m a l e w a s q u e s t i o n e d , her w e a k intellect a product of her pathological biology. A l t h o u g h there are s o m e reports  145  that not all p h y s i c i a n s s e x u a l l y e n c o d e d hysteria, to the majority it r e m a i n e d a female affliction, the infirmity of f e m a l e a n a t o m y a n d feminine sensibility. In the eighteenth century hysteria b e g a n to reflect b o u r g e o i s culture in E u r o p e , b e c o m i n g the definitive illness of y o u n g , sensitive w o m e n . T h e s e nubile hysterics w e r e subject to uncontrollable s e x u a l i m p u l s e s , fits of crying a n d laughter, n e r v o u s c o u g h i n g , a n d various other s y m p t o m s a s s o c i a t e d with the soft, fluid, penetrability of the internal s p a c e of the f e m a l e body a s well a s with inarticulate, non-linguistic s o u n d . A s Bronfen o b s e r v e s , the leap from the e m p t i n e s s of the f e m a l e c o r p o r e a l s p a c e to the e m p t i n e s s of f e m a l e moral character—"the spatial density of the body readily c o n v e r t s into moral d e n s i t y " — w a s well e s t a b l i s h e d (113). T h e g e n e r a l c o n s e n s u s that hysteria w a s , for the eighteenth century f e m a l e , a n illness "owing to a n a b u n d a n c e of feeling, a n e x c e s s i v e s y m p a t h y with her environment, a n u n c u r b e d e m p a t h y for all that w o u l d m o v e her body a n d soul—but a flow of organic a n d p s y c h i c e n e r g y that f o r m e d a c l o s e d circuit" continued to be traced, by a s s o c i a t i o n , to the infirmity of the f e m a l e body (114). This is the point at w h i c h the ideal of femininity b e c a m e the f e m a l e m a l a d y , m a k i n g hysteria a n d femininity c o t e r m i n o u s . T h e hysteric inhabited the feminine just a s the feminine 3  inhabited the hysteric.  T h e "Impossibility" of the M a l e Hysteric S i n c e the origins of hysteria w e r e consistently a s s o c i a t e d with the f e m a l e body, a n d with w o m e n ' s lack of moral fiber, impaired intellectual ability, a n d inferior p l a c e in society, the d i a g n o s i s of m a l e hysteria w a s very difficult—if not i m p o s s i b l e — t o m a k e . Elaine S h o w a l t e r o b s e r v e s that the cultural resistance to the i d e a of the m a l e hysteric  146  from o n e century to the next is s o strong that the s a m e s y m p t o m s in m e n consistently generate a n entirely different d i a g n o s i s than in w o m e n (288). F r a m i n g the study of hysteria through the lens of g e n d e r not only helps us to understand the interplay of the feminine roles patients w e r e e x p e c t e d to play a n d the paternal roles a d a p t e d by p h y s i c i a n s ; it a l s o traces the w a y s in w h i c h masculinity a n d hysteria w e r e g e n d e r e d . A s S h o w a l t e r d e m o n s t r a t e s , in her study " H y s t e r i a , F e m i n i s m a n d G e n d e r , " the virility of male hysterics w a s continually q u e s t i o n e d — t h e y w e r e often c h a r a c t e r i z e d a s effeminate, p a s s i v e a n d h o m o s e x u a l (289). A c c o u n t s of m a l e hysterics w e r e r e p r e s s e d either by denying the e x i s t e n c e of m a l e hysteria or by r e n a m i n g the manifestations of hysteria in m e n differently. T h e s e strategies effectively m a s k e d male hysteria by o p p o s i n g its feminine etiology to more m a s c u l i n e d i s o r d e r s . M a l e hysteria w a s d i a g n o s e d a s everything from m e l a n c h o l y a n d h y p o c h o n d r i a (prevalent in the eighteenth a n d nineteenth centuries); n e u r a s t h e n i a (predominant in the late eighteenth a n d nineteenth centuries); s h e l l - s h o c k or w a r n e u r o s i s ( c o m m o n to the period surrounding W o r l d W a r I); to o b s e s s i o n a l n e u r o s i s ( d i a g n o s e d by Freud) (293). S h o w a l t e r e x p l a i n s that a d i a g n o s i s s u c h a s m e l a n c h o l i a w a s " a prestigious disorder of upper m i d d l e - c l a s s a n d intellectual m e n . " Similarly, in the nineteenth-century, n e u r a s t h e n i a " w a s a s o u r c e of pride a n d a b a d g e of national distinction a n d racial superiority," b e c a u s e it w a s linked with overwork in the new, urban industrialized society a n d highlighted the cultivated sensitivity of the m i d d l e - c l a s s . N e u r a s t h e n i a w a s linked to m o n e y , capitalism, p o w e r a n d masculinity, often acting a s a s c r e e n for the anxiety overworked m e n d e v e l o p e d in relation to s e x u a l disfunction (293-296). R e s i s t a n c e to the d i a g n o s i s of hysteria in m e n continued long after hysteria c e a s e d to be specifically related to a pathological w o m b . O n the o d d o c c a s i o n w h e n it  147  w a s d i a g n o s e d in m e n it w a s still s e e n a s a "female affliction" (293). Similarly, if w o m e n w e r e d i a g n o s e d with n e u r a s t h e n i a it w a s often distinguished from the m a l e v e r s i o n of the affliction, a n d the s y m p t o m s w e r e traced to child-rearing a n d / o r higher e d u c a t i o n . S h o w a l t e r tells us that in E n g l a n d n e u r a s t h e n i a eventually b e c a m e a f e m a l e affliction, a n e r v o u s disorder that manifested itself in w o m e n w h o a b a n d o n e d their maternal role a n d entered the public s p h e r e to c o m p e t e with m e n in society. T h e "cure" for n e u r a s t h e n i a in w o m e n — a s well a s for its twin d i s e a s e , h y s t e r i a — u n d e r s c o r e s the difference in relation to g e n d e r not only in d i a g n o s i s but in treatment. T h e most c o m m o n prescription for t h e s e afflictions in w o m e n b e c a m e the "rest cure," a c u r e that confined a w o m a n to her b e d for lengthy periods of time, prohibiting activity of a n y sort. S i n c e m e n , e v e n effeminate m e n , c o u l d not be e x p e c t e d to remain idle for a n y length of time, their treatment w a s entirely different a n d did not include p r o l o n g e d inactivity (298). T h e "impossibility" of m a l e hysteria then, w a s the "impossibility" of inarticulate, irrational a n d faint-hearted m e n .  T h e Silent Art of H y s t e r i a T h e d i s c o u r s e s surrounding the d i a g n o s i s a n d c u r e of hysteria culminated in the nineteenth-century. A s R o y Porter o b s e r v e s : "Its investigation a n d treatment m a d e the f a m e a n d fortunes of towering medical f i g u r e s — C h a r c o t , B r e u e r , J a n e t a n d F r e u d " (227). Certainly J e a n - M a r t i n C h a r c o t built his reputation by staging s p e c t a c l e s of hysteria in his theatrical lectures at the S a l p e t r i e r e — a " m u s e u m of living pathology"—that regularly featured live hysterics performing their peculiar s y m p t o m s (Bronfen 174). M a n y theorists, including Showalter, B r o n f e n a n d S a n d e r G i l m a n , e m p h a s i z e C h a r c o t ' s particularly s c o p o p h i l i c a p p r o a c h to hysteria, his d i a g n o s i s being  148  highly d e p e n d e n t upon the white, m a s c u l i n e aesthetic g a z e that w a s prevalent in theatre a n d visual art at the time: C h a r c o t e m p h a s i z e d the visual manifestation of hysteria a n d the hysterical body a s a n art object. His representations of g e n d e r w e r e allied to aesthetic c o n v e n t i o n s about the f e m a l e body, w h e t h e r in painting, photography or d r a m a . (Showalter 310) A l t h o u g h C h a r c o t did not limit hysteria to f e m a l e s — h i s a c c o u n t s of m a l e hysterics w e r e s u p p r e s s e d after his death—the silent, pathological f e m a l e b o d y w a s , for C h a r c o t , the quintessential hysteric. S a n d e r G i l m a n s u g g e s t s that hysterics at C h a r c o t ' s clinic were able to replicate the i m a g e of hysteria by viewing representations of other hysterics in the paintings, p e r f o r m a n c e s a n d p h o t o g r a p h s c o m m i s s i o n e d by C h a r c o t : F o r the patient knows how to be a patient [...]  only from the  representation of the w a y the p h y s i c i a n w i s h e s to s e e (and therefore to know) the patient a s the v e s s e l of a d i s e a s e , not a n y d i s e a s e , but the d i s e a s e of i m a g e s a n d imagining, hysteria. (Hysteria  353)  G i l m a n s t r e s s e s the importance of the i m a g e to the patient's s y m p t o m s a n d to the p h y s i c i a n ' s recognition of hysteria, a n observation s u g g e s t i n g that in the nineteenthcentury hysteria w a s no longer v i e w e d a s a d i s e a s e of the uterus, but w a s "the c l a s s i c d i s e a s e of the imagination" (359). T h e g a z e of the p h y s i c i a n w h o transmitted his expectations of pathology onto his patient, c o u p l e d with the compliant mirroring of s y m p t o m s by the hysteric for the benefit of the p h y s i c i a n , w e r e central to the demonstrations of hysteria at the Salpetriere. G i l m a n a l s o o b s e r v e s continuity in the representations of the hysteric within the wider cultural a r e n a of nineteenth-century society. Indeed, m a n y i m a g e s of the  149  hysteric's contorted body bore a similarity to representations of ecstatic religious postures, or depictions of witches a n d deviants, a s well a s to the provocative p o s e s of w o m e n c a p t u r e d in oil paintings. F o r C h a r c o t , hysteria w a s firmly e m b e d d e d in artistic d i s c o u r s e , a d i s c o u r s e that e n a b l e d him to c o m m o d i t y hysteria a s a "work of art" that w a s s o l d through scientific texts in w h i c h photographs of hysterical p o s e s w e r e r e p r o d u c e d (383). R e p r e s e n t a t i o n s of the hysteric in art c o i n c i d e d with a shift in representation in g e n e r a l , at a time w h e n art b e c a m e fascinated with visual illustrations of difference. T h e f a c e b e c a m e a n important sign of d e v i a n c e a n d the depiction of "pathological" i m a g e s of distorted a n d a s y m m e t r i c a l features d e v e l o p e d a hierarchical t a x o n o m y of e x p r e s s i o n s that w e r e c o n n e c t e d to the anthropological d e b a t e on beauty a n d r a c e . Hysterical s y m p t o m s w e r e represented quite literally a s s y m p t o m s "written o n the body." Patients w e r e thoroughly scrutinized for the slightest abnormality that c o u l d b e r e a d a s h y s t e r i a — a b n o r m a l posture a n d carriage, s k i n ulcerations a n d r a s h e s , e v e n the s y m p t o m s of syphilis, all put the patient at risk of being d i a g n o s e d a s hysterical. A s 4  G i l m a n d o c u m e n t s , hysteria w a s very m u c h a d i s e a s e constructed from nineteenthcentury anxieties related to the representations of g e n d e r , race a n d c l a s s (379-402). T h e shift in the etiology of hysteria from the pathological w o m b to the pathological imagination did nothing to s e p a r a t e hysteria from its a s s o c i a t i o n with the feminine a n d its conflation with w o m e n a n d the feminine in g e n e r a l . T h e feminine nature w a s c o n s i d e r e d the most vulnerable to the deviant w a n d e r i n g s of the imagination. This vulnerability w a s a l s o thought to e x t e n d from g e n d e r to r a c e , a s G i l m a n d o c u m e n t s , specifically in relation to the "effeminacy" of the J e w s . G i l m a n e x p l a i n s that in the d i s c o u r s e s surrounding race, beauty, a n d intelligence, J e w i s h m e n w e r e f e m i n i z e d . H e  150  c o n t e n d s that this w a s the m a s k e d subtext of the visual representation of the female hysteric, that the scientific g a z e a l s o turned often o n J e w i s h m e n w h o w e r e highly "visible" in E u r o p e during this time: " T h e f a c e of the J e w b e c a m e a s m u c h a s sign of the pathological a s w a s the f a c e of the hysteric. But e v e n more s o , the f a c e of the J e w b e c a m e the f a c e of the hysteric" (405). C h a r c o t ' s a n a l y s i s of male hysterics perpetuated this anti-Semitic view. G i l m a n cites a n e x a m p l e of the d i a g n o s i s of a male hysteric in w h i c h C h a r c o t attributed the patient's pathology directly to the J e w i s h D i a s p o r a , that is, the J e w i s h patient's hysteria w a s e n g e n d e r e d in the c e a s e l e s s w a n d e r i n g of the J e w s . A s G i l m a n d e s c r i b e s the situation, the w a n d e r i n g J e w s are "out of their minds b e c a u s e they are out of their natural p l a c e " (416). T h i s pathology w a s a l s o p e r c e i v e d in the l a n g u a g e of the J e w s , " a l a n g u a g e that is corrupted by a s well a s corrupting the world in w h i c h the J e w in the D i a s p o r a lives" (409). T h e l a n g u a g e of the J e w is s u s p e c t b e c a u s e it is the corrupt a n d potentially corrupting sign of difference that c o u l d not b e c o n t a i n e d in the silent image of difference a n d pathology (425). T h e s u s p i c i o n of the hidden m e a n i n g c o n t a i n e d in the J e w i s h l a n g u a g e resurfaces, G i l m a n c o n t e n d s , in F r e u d ' s identification of lying a s the central s y m p t o m of the hysteric, a s y m p t o m often read a s a n d attributed to racialization (425). G i l m a n explains that the J e w s w e r e racialized a s black in the nineteenth-century, a visual d i a g n o s i s that illustrated the w a y s in w h i c h pathology w a s read quite literally a s a n inscription o n the surface of the other (434). It is a l s o important to note that pathology w a s a l s o heard in the s o u n d s of the other. T h e d e g e n e r a t e mixing of J e w s a n d b l a c k s w a s identified a s the r e a s o n for the "infantile" nature of their l a n g u a g e s a n d d i s c o u r s e s (435). In g e n e r a l , the classification of "other" l a n g u a g e s a s d e g e n e r a t e a n d infantile  151  followed the g e n d e r e d a n d raced subtext of hysteria a s the failure to c o m m u n i c a t e properly.  Hysteria a n d P s y c h o a n a l y s i s S i g m u n d F r e u d first e n c o u n t e r e d the performance of hysteria in C h a r c o t ' s " m u s e u m of pathology" at Salpetriere. A s E l i z a b e t h B r o n f e n notes, F r e u d ' s studies with C h a r c o t eventually "lead him to that other s c e n e , the u n c o n s c i o u s , a n d with it to the birth of p s y c h o a n a l y s i s (116). Initially F r e u d a c c e p t e d C h a r c o t ' s s c o p o p h i l i c method of d i a g n o s i n g hysteria w h i c h , a s e x p l a i n e d a b o v e , interpreted v i s u a l s i g n s a s e v i d e n c e of pathology. Y e t his s u b s e q u e n t work with hysterics led him toward the d e v e l o p m e n t of the p s y c h o a n a l y t i c method, a method b a s e d o n the interpretation of stories told to him by his f e m a l e patients. T h u s there w a s a shift in e m p h a s i s in F r e u d ' s work with hysterics from visual representation to representation in language. T h r o u g h the narratives of hysterics, F r e u d eventually linked their s y m p t o m s with r e p r e s s e d trauma: " T h e s y m p t o m s of hysteria, F r e u d noted, w e r e c r e a t e d through a p r o c e s s of symbolization a n d e x p r e s s e d in emotional states" (Showalter 315). C o n s i d e r e d to be of a s e x u a l nature, t r a u m a in F r e u d ' s estimation, w a s traceable to s e x u a l a b u s e or a s e d u c t i o n fantasy a n d w a s manifested in the fragmentation of l a n g u a g e a n d the b r e a k d o w n of m e a n i n g . S i n c e most of F r e u d ' s patients w e r e m i d d l e - c l a s s J e w i s h w o m e n w h o w e r e often defying traditional f e m a l e roles, his d i l e m m a in the d i a g n o s i s a n d treatment of hysteria w a s the cultural conflation of hysteria, g e n d e r a n d race. G i l m a n insists that F r e u d r e c o g n i z e d himself a s the J e w i s h , f e m i n i z e d other, a recognition he sought to repress by shifting his diagnostic focus a w a y from the g a z e toward v e r b a l s i g n s of hysteria,  152  "from the crudity of s e e i n g to the subtlety of hearing" (415). T h i s attempt to repress the visual c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n g e n d e r a n d race w a s u n s u c c e s s f u l s i n c e , a s indicated a b o v e , g e n d e r a n d race are a l s o represented sonically a s linguistic pathology. Still, C h a r c o t ' s a p p r o a c h to hysteria followed F r e u d into his practice. H e h a d trouble d i s m i s s i n g the visual a s p e c t s of hysteria altogether, yet neither c o u l d he fully a c c e p t a purely v i s u a l d i a g n o s i s a s definitive, b e c a u s e of its relation to r a c e . A s c o m p e n s a t i o n , F r e u d b e g a n to e m p h a s i z e the " u s u a l " in the identification of hysteria rather than the " u n u s u a l " (415). That is, in order for F r e u d to d i s t a n c e himself from identification with the hysterical male other, he deferred to the l a n g u a g e of s c i e n c e , a m a s c u l i n e l a n g u a g e of neutrality that e r a s e d his own racial difference a n d the possibility of his effeminacy (436). F r e u d ' s refusal to a c k n o w l e d g e m a l e hysteria, c o u p l e d with his focus o n the f e m a l e version of the illness, shifted the e m p h a s i s a w a y from himself a n d onto the most c o n v e n i e n t o t h e r — w o m a n .  T h e C a s e of D o r a O n e of the most talked about hysterics d o c u m e n t e d by F r e u d in his c a s e studies is D o r a , w h o s e real n a m e w a s Ida B a u e r . In " F r a g m e n t of a n A n a l y s i s of a C a s e of Hysteria," F r e u d narrates D o r a ' s complaint: her father w a s e n c o u r a g i n g her s e d u c t i o n by his friend Herr K., in e x c h a n g e for Herr K.'s complicit s i l e n c e c o n c e r n i n g the ongoing affair b e t w e e n D o r a ' s father a n d Herr K.'s wife, F r a u K. D o r a told F r e u d that s h e w a s particularly disturbed by a n incident in w h i c h Herr K. m a d e a d v a n c e s toward her w h e n s h e w a s only fourteen y e a r s old. T o c o m p l i c a t e matters, at least from her father's point of view, D o r a d e v e l o p e d her own disturbing relationship with his mistress, F r a u K., with w h o m s h e spent a great deal of time reading erotic literature. Eventually, her father sent  153  her to F r e u d for p s y c h o a n a l y s i s , to m a k e s u r e s h e w o u l d n e v e r betray their c o m p l e x w e b of s e x u a l s e c r e t s by c o m i n g to terms with a n d finally a c c e p t i n g the a d v a n c e s of Herr K. (Showalter 317). A l t h o u g h D o r a ' s s y m p t o m s w e r e comparatively mild, F r e u d w a s determined to apply the codified s y s t e m of d i a g n o s i s he h a d d e v e l o p e d in order to classify D o r a a s hysterical. H e f o c u s e d his energy o n D o r a ' s "inability" to c r e a t e a c o h e r e n t narrative in their s e s s i o n s , a n observation consistent with his notion that all hysterics w e r e unable to construct a c o n v i n c i n g chronicle to the satisfaction of the therapist (Showalter 318). T h e fragmentation of the relationship b e t w e e n patient a n d analyst w a s attributed to D o r a ' s hysteria, not to F r e u d ' s inability to understand what s h e w a s telling him. A c c o r d i n g to Showalter, although for F r e u d p s y c h o a n a l y s i s w a s b a s e d o n narrative, it w a s in his estimation the task of the therapist to construct that narrative for the patient. T h e constructed narrative must in turn be a c c e p t e d by the patient in order for her to be c u r e d . D o r a , however, rejected F r e u d ' s narrative: S h e flatly d e n i e d F r e u d ' s narrative e m b e l l i s h m e n t s of her story, w o u l d not a c c e p t his v e r s i o n of her activities a n d feelings, a n d either contradicted him or fell into stubborn s i l e n c e . Finally s h e w a l k e d out on F r e u d by refusing to continue with therapy at all. (319) S h o w a l t e r o b s e r v e s that D o r a ' s v o i c e is completely s u p p r e s s e d in F r e u d ' s text, a n indication that s h e w a s merely the object of his o b s e r v a t i o n . F r e u d ' s inability to treat D o r a a s a subject results in his perception of her story a s f r a g m e n t e d a n d incoherent, w h i c h , a c c o r d i n g to Toril M o i , " h a s l e s s to d o with the nature of hysteria or with the nature of w o m a n than with the s o c i a l p o w e r l e s s n e s s of w o m e n ' s narratives" (Showalter 333).  154  T h e Hysteric a n d the Feminist D o r a ' s refusal of F r e u d ' s v e r s i o n of her story, a s well a s her rejection of his treatment, is interpreted by feminists in o n e of two w a y s : s h e w a s either complicit with patriarchy a n d pathologically unable to break free from the b o u r g e o i s family, or s h e w a s refusing her role in patriarchy a n d her heterosexuality. T h e q u e s t i o n of D o r a ' s collusion with the patriarchal e x c h a n g e of w o m e n or rebellion against it is s i m p l y stated: is the hysteric a feminist heroine or a patriarchal conspirator? (Findlay 328). T h i s question is a d d r e s s e d , most notably p e r h a p s , in the e x c h a n g e b e t w e e n H e l e n e C i x o u s a n d C a t h e r i n e C l e m e n t in The Newly Born Woman.  T h e section of the  book entitled " T h e U n t e n a b l e " is a d i s c u s s i o n b e t w e e n C i x o u s a n d C l e m e n t of the political effectiveness of the hysteric in the s y m b o l i c . E a c h w o m a n d r a w s different c o n c l u s i o n s from F r e u d ' s c a s e study of D o r a . C i x o u s finds merit in e x c e s s , in the position of the hysteric at the threshold of the s y m b o l i c a n d l a n g u a g e , while C l e m e n t holds little h o p e for the political power of the hysteric in her attempts to dismantle the s y s t e m . F o r both w o m e n , the c a s e of the hysteric pivots o n the i s s u e of l a n g u a g e , on whether the hysteric must e m b r a c e s y m b o l i c l a n g u a g e in order to break her imaginary identifications or whether s h e is proof of the notion that imaginary identifications are e n t r e n c h e d in the s y m b o l i c . C l e m e n t a r g u e s that the hysteric is not only firmly e m b e d d e d in, but a l s o anticipated a n d thus is easily s i l e n c e d by, the s y m b o l i c . S h e insists that the hysteric d o e s nothing more than reinforce the structure of the s y m b o l i c , e s p e c i a l l y in relation to its most powerful institution, the b o u r g e o i s family. T h e hysteric's marginal position is created by the s y s t e m a n d anticipated by it, effectively dismantling a n y possibility of hysterical s u b v e r s i o n : "it mimics, it m e t a p h o r i z e s its destruction, but the family  155  reconstitutes itself a r o u n d it" (155). T h e hysteric c o m p l a i n s of her p o w e r l e s s n e s s within kinship structures but her hysterical s y m p t o m s d o nothing to dismantle that p o w e r l e s s n e s s . T h u s s h e is unable to transform her situation through her extra-linguistic protest b e c a u s e it l a c k s the c o h e r e n c e a n d political c a p a c i t y of l a n g u a g e . F o r C l e m e n t the hysteric is unable to a r g u e her c a s e s u c c e s s f u l l y . C i x o u s , o n the other h a n d , s e e s hysteria a s a n effective protest. T h e hysteric resists her p l a c e in the s y m b o l i c a s a p a w n in the patriarchal e x c h a n g e of w o m e n , and. in s o doing e x p l o d e s the s y m b o l i c structure, creating viable alternatives for political c h a n g e apart from l a n g u a g e . F o r C i x o u s hysterical identification exists at the threshold of the s y m b o l i c , s u g g e s t i n g that "there is s o m e t h i n g hysterical about e v e r y putting-intow o r d s " (Findlay 330). T h e dialogue b e t w e e n C i x o u s a n d C l e m e n t pivots o n the relationship of difference to power a n d whether this relationship c a n be (dis)articulated in l a n g u a g e . C l e m e n t s e e s the s y m b o l i c a s being structured by difference in a w a y that contains it, s u c h that working from within b e c o m e s the only possibility for transformation. S y m b o l i c inscription is the only w a y to bring c h a n g e to the s y m b o l i c . For C i x o u s , however, difference e x c e e d s the s y m b o l i c , a n d it is precisely the e x c e s s a n d motility of difference that disturbs a n d transforms s y m b o l i c structures: T h e r e are structures characteristic of hysteria that are not n e u r o s e s , that work with very strong c a p a c i t i e s of identification with the other, that are s c o u r i n g , that m a k e mirrors fly, that put disturbing i m a g e s b a c k into circulation. (Newly  155)  B y "making mirrors fly" the hysteric c h a l l e n g e s the b a s i c p r e m i s e of the mirror s t a g e , in w h i c h the subject's entry into the s y m b o l i c d e p e n d s upon the abjection of the mother  156  a n d the repudiation of the semiotic (the imaginary in C i x o u s ' terminology). T h e hysteric cannot s e e herself a s abject; it is the s y s t e m w h i c h is b a s e d o n " b l i n d n e s s , o n denial." T h u s the hysteric m a k e s s u r e it is known that s h e h a s no p l a c e in the s y m b o l i c : Hysteria is n e c e s s a r i l y a n element that disturbs a r r a n g e m e n t s ; w h e r e v e r it is, it s h a k e s up all t h o s e w h o want to install t h e m s e l v e s , w h o want to install s o m e t h i n g that is going to work, to repeat. It is very difficult to block out this type of p e r s o n w h o doesn't leave y o u in p e a c e , w h o w a g e s permanent war against y o u . ( C i x o u s 156) C i x o u s ' argument b e a r s a striking r e s e m b l a n c e to K r i s t e v a ' s notion that the semiotic resurfaces in the s y m b o l i c in order to disrupt its fixity, a n argument outlined in chapter one.  D o r a a n d the M a r g i n s C i x o u s c o n t e n d s that the most important c h a r a c t e r s in F r e u d ' s a c c o u n t of D o r a ' s c a s e are t h o s e w h o s e d i s a v o w e d p r e s e n c e haunts the narrative—the mother a n d the nurse. A c c o r d i n g to A n n e M c C l i n t o c k , the bourgeois family structure w a s dependent upon the splitting of f e m a l e sexuality a l o n g c l a s s lines s o that e x c e s s c o u l d be identified with the w o r k i n g - c l a s s nurse a n d purity c o u l d be identified with the m i d d l e - c l a s s mother (86). Although the n u r s e w a s a paid labourer, c l a s s hierarchy a l l o w e d the unpaid mother to rise a b o v e the nurse in s o c i a l status. It is important to note, h o w e v e r , that the relative position held by e a c h w o m a n in relation to the family structure w e r e mediated by the h u s b a n d ' s authority over both. M c C l i n t o c k points out that the nurse often w i e l d e d p o w e r o v e r the children in a variety of w a y s to c o m p e n s a t e for the p o w e r l e s s n e s s s h e e x p e r i e n c e d a s the hired  157  help. B e c a u s e her power e x t e n d e d to the s e x u a l realm, it w a s c o m m o n for children to be sexually initiated in o n e w a y or another by the nurse. In s e v e r a l of F r e u d ' s c o r r e s p o n d e n c e s M c C l i n t o c k o b s e r v e s that the analyst reluctantly admits to the profound influence his nurse had upon his p s y c h o s e x u a l d e v e l o p m e n t , s o m e t h i n g he tried desperately to r e p r e s s . T h u s , in his O e d i p a l theory, F r e u d e r a s e s the nurse by displacing the p o w e r s h e p o s s e s s e s in relation to the child's formative y e a r s , eliminates the child's identification with the nurse's p o w e r a n d shifts it onto the father (94). H e c o m p l e t e s the repudiation by replacing the nurse with the mother, m a k i n g her the object of desire at the centre of the family r o m a n c e . " B y e r a s i n g the n u r s e ' s a g e n c y , " M c C l i n t o c k states, " F r e u d s a f e g u a r d s the m a l e ' s historical role a s s e x u a l agent" (88). T h u s , w o m e n ' s subjectivity is doubly d e n i e d , both the mother a n d the nurse must be abjected. A s M c C l i n t o c k explains, F r e u d i a n theory p l a c e s w o m e n "in the realm of object c h o i c e rather than the realm of s o c i a l identification. Indeed, identification with the mother figure is s e e n a s pathological, p e r v e r s e , the s o u r c e of fixation, arrest a n d hysteria" (91). Identification with the nurse would be equally a s paralyzing—if not i m p o s s i b l e — s i n c e her p r e s e n c e is completely d e n i e d a n d her s i l e n c e mandatory. M c C l i n t o c k a r g u e s , however, that unlike the mother w h o is a n object located within the family structure, the nurse is a threshold figure w h o exists inside a n d outside the family, belonging to both public a n d private s p h e r e s , to sexuality a n d domesticity (93-94). L o c a t i n g the nurse at the borderline of the family d e m o n s t r a t e s the c o m p l e x intersection of g e n d e r a n d c l a s s : "the historical double bind of class is thereby split a n d d i s p l a c e d onto the father a n d mother a s a universal function of gender" (90). C i x o u s r e c o g n i z e s this d o u b l e bind a n d disrupts it by concentrating o n the figures that haunt D o r a ' s story, placing t h e m squarely into the centre of the narrative.  158  Similarly the hysteric, registering the patriarchal d i s a v o w a l of both mother a n d nurse a s subjects in her hysterical s y m p t o m s , e x p o s e s the fragility a n d uncertainty of the law a n d disrupts the myth of s y m b o l i c stability. T h e hysteric's protest brings the "hystericization of the s p e a k i n g subject in g e n e r a l " to our attention (Findlay 330). T h u s , w h e n C i x o u s states, " D o r a s e e m e d to m e to be the o n e w h o resists the s y s t e m , the o n e w h o cannot tolerate that the family a n d society are f o u n d e d o n the body of w o m e n , o n b o d i e s d e s p i s e d , rejected, b o d i e s that are humiliating o n c e they h a v e b e e n u s e d , " s h e r e c o g n i z e s that D o r a ' s hysterical protest h a s the p o w e r to break apart the s y m b o l i c (154). T h e fragmented l a n g u a g e s h e s p e a k s is the fragmented l a n g u a g e s p o k e n by all 5  of u s — a s o u n d i n g that is s i l e n c e d by the law.  T h e Hysterical Protest a n d the S h r i e k i n g S i s t e r h o o d T h e suffrage m o v e m e n t in E u r o p e a n d the United S t a t e s is often cited a s the r e a s o n for the decline of f e m a l e hysteria in the early twentieth century (Showalter 3 2 6 ) . Y e t a s L i s a T i c k n e r writes in The Spectacle Campaign  1907-14,  of Women:  Imagery of the  6  Suffragist  a direct correlation c a n a l s o be d r a w n b e t w e e n the rise of feminism  a n d the rise of the clinical focus o n hysteria (195). A c c o r d i n g to T i c k n e r the r e - e m p h a s i s o n " w o m e n ' s essentially biological  destiny in the f a c e of their increasingly mobile a n d  t r a n s g r e s s i v e roles" a c t e d a s s o c i a l surveillance o n w o m e n (196). S h e a l s o o b s e r v e s that, although the etiology of hysteria w a s no longer linked to a dysfunctional uterus, the c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n hysteria, femininity a n d sexuality w a s not a b a n d o n e d but reconfigured: " H y s t e r i a w a s s e x u a l in the s e n s e that the e n e r g i e s of the s e x u a l drive a n d t h o s e originally u s e d to repress it w e r e c o n d e n s e d into the hysterical s y m p t o m " (197).  159  F e m i n i s t s at this time w e r e c h a r a c t e r i z e d by m a i n s t r e a m society a s s e x u a l l y ambivalent, hybrid, socially d e g e n e r a t e a n d hysterical (194). T h e intersection of femininity, sexuality, a n d hysteria b e c a m e p o p u l a r i z e d in the print m e d i a a n d s p e c i a l i z e d throughout the m e d i c a l profession a n d psychiatry, e a c h v i e w reinforcing the other (194). F e m i n i s t s w e r e caricatured a s m a s c u l i n e w o m e n or effeminate m e n c r o s s e d - d r e s s e d in w o m e n ' s clothing: F o r half a century of more, f e m i n i s m a n d hysteria w e r e readily m a p p e d on to e a c h other a s forms of irregularity, disorder a n d e x c e s s , a n d the claim that the w o m e n ' s m o v e m e n t w a s m a d e up of hysterical f e m a l e s w a s o n e of the principal m e a n s by w h i c h it w a s popularly d i s c r e d i t e d . (194) T h e feminine w a s split into two, a s positive i m a g e s of normal w o m e n a n d negative i m a g e s of d e g e n e r a t e w o m e n w e r e p l a c e d s i d e by s i d e a s a w a r n i n g to w o m e n w h o w e r e not content with their proper p l a c e . T h e a s s o c i a t i o n of feminists with d e g e n e r a c y linked g e n d e r d e v i a n c e to the d i s c o u r s e of race in the early twentieth century, playing o n the anxieties of the white m i d d l e - c l a s s , specifically on their fear of domination by the racial other (204). F e m i n i s t s w e r e often referred to a s the "shrieking s i s t e r h o o d , " w o m e n w h o publicly m a d e a noisy s p e c t a c l e of t h e m s e l v e s , disturbed the p e a c e a n d threatened v i o l e n c e (194). A s T i c k n e r o b s e r v e s , t h e s e suffragists a d o p t e d this characterization, m a p p i n g f e m i n i s m a n d hysteria onto e a c h other to effectively d e p l o y the d i s c o u r s e of hysteria a s a r e s i s t a n c e to traditional roles (197). In other w o r d s , feminists often e m b r a c e d the c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n feminist politics a n d hysteria in order to give v o i c e to their protests. Similarly, the link b e t w e e n the noise of feminist hysteria a n d the "pathological" sexuality practiced by feminists (apart from reproduction) kept the  160  c o n n e c t i o n b e t w e e n w o m a n ' s w o m b a n d w o m a n ' s v o i c e intact, c h a l l e n g i n g the narrative p a r a m e t e r s of s y m b o l i c e x p r e s s i o n . M a r y R u s s o s u g g e s t s that the c o n n e c t i o n between the shrieking sisterhood a n d the "bra-burners a n d harridans of the s e c o n d w a v e " links the "grotesque" n o i s e of f e m i n i s m with the "grotesque" b o d y of w o m e n (14). F e m i n i s t s s o m e t i m e s referred to their noisy protests (the s o u n d of f e m a l e o p p r e s s i o n a n d dissatisfaction) a s "articulate hysteria," the c o m m u n i c a t i o n of a m e s s a g e that violated the narrative rules of s y m b o l i c c o m m u n i c a t i o n (Showalter 333). S h o w a l t e r s u g g e s t s that in order for hysterical protest to be effective l a n g u a g e must be transgressed: L a n g u a g e h a s played a major role in the history of hysteria; to pry apart the b o n d b e t w e e n hysteria a n d w o m e n , to free hysteria from its feminine attributes, a n d to liberate femininity from its b o n d a g e to hysteria, m e a n s going against the grain of l a n g u a g e itself. (Showalter 290) Articulate hysteria is contingent o n the ability of s o u n d to freely violate the borders of body a n d mind, interiority a n d exteriority, to c o m m u n i c a t e b e y o n d l a n g u a g e , to c o m m i n g l e the u n c o n s c i o u s a n d the c o n s c i o u s , to break the s y m b o l i c with the semiotic. H e a t h e r F i n d l a y ' s s u g g e s t i o n that "feminism m a y very well b e a n u n c o n s c i o u s n e s s raising, a n e x p e r i e n c e of the role of the u n c o n s c i o u s in every s y m b o l i c act" illustrates the p o w e r of the semiotic disruption of the s y m b o l i c that brings p s y c h i c depth to the surface (330). In contradistinction to C h a r c o t ' s silencing of the h y s t e r i c — " Y o u s e e how the hysterics cry. O n e c o u l d s a y this is m u c h noise about nothing" — t h e hysteric's cry is (re)sounded a s a noisy performance that s p e a k s v o l u m e s .  161  The Cry Y e t for theorists s u c h a s K a j a S i l v e r m a n , the cry—that is, the non-linguistic s o u n d s of n o i s e , b a b b l e a n d involuntary s o u n d — s o n i c a l l y e n c o d e s w o m a n with/as the abject f e m a l e body. In the symbolic, non-linguistic s o u n d is negatively c h a r g e d , s h e insists, b e c a u s e it c o n f i n e s w o m a n to a n interiority that is linked with pre-linguistic s p a c e — t h e s p a c e identified by J u l i a K r i s t e v a a s the s e m i o t i c c h o r a — a n d is a s s o c i a t e d with the m a l e fantasy of the p r e - O e d i p a l s o n o r o u s e n v e l o p e . S e m i o t i c s o u n d belongs to a stifling interiority; a c c o r d i n g to S i l v e r m a n , its u n r e p r e s e n t a b l e articulations are s o far r e m o v e d from the site of enunciation a s to be rendered ineffectual in their e x c e s s . S i l v e r m a n o b s e r v e s a t e n d e n c y in both c l a s s i c film a n d theory that i m p o s e s linguistic containment o n the f e m a l e v o i c e . S h e s u g g e s t s that e a c h m e d i u m h a s c o n s p i r e d to confine the f e m a l e v o i c e to the f e m a l e body. Film a n d theory take great pains to d o s o by extracting involuntary s o u n d from its f e m a l e c h a r a c t e r s . F o r S i l v e r m a n the s o u n d most often a s s o c i a t e d with the f e m a l e v o i c e is a n involuntary s o u n d that is s o unintelligible it e s c a p e s all understanding: T h e r e is, of c o u r s e , only o n e group of s o u n d s c a p a b l e of conforming precisely to t h e s e r e q u i r e m e n t s — t h o s e emitted by a n e w b o r n baby. T h i s , then is the v o c a l position w h i c h the f e m a l e subject is c a l l e d upon to o c c u p y w h e n e v e r (in film or theory) s h e is identified with n o i s e , b a b b l e , or the cry. (78) S i l v e r m a n a r g u e s that theorists often c o n f u s e the infant's cry with the maternal v o i c e b e c a u s e of the "aural undecidability" of v o i c e . Y e t s h e , too, locates t h e s e s o u n d s entirely within the interiority of the pre-linguistic pre-subject a n d concomitantly a s s o c i a t e s t h e m with discursive impotence. S h e explains that w h e n o n e p e r s o n is  162  s p e a k i n g a n d another is listening, audition a n d utterance are performed simultaneously, demonstrating the "double organization of the vocal/auditory s y s t e m " (79). T h e s i m u l t a n e o u s circuit of v o i c e / e a r c r e a t e s a n aural undecidability that o b s c u r e s the boundary b e t w e e n inferiority a n d exteriority, m a k i n g it difficult to situate the utterance in relation to a subject or a proto-subject, mother or child. T h e simultaneity of utterance a n d audition s a n c t i o n s the s l i p p a g e b e t w e e n the s o u n d of the mother a n d the s o u n d of the infantile cry, projecting the d i s c u r s i v e inability of the pre-subject onto the mother. S i l v e r m a n a r g u e s that the cry is abject, a v o c a l a n d auditory "afterbirth" that cannot be recuperated by the s y m b o l i c . F o r S i l v e r m a n the location of the cry outside of l a n g u a g e , c o u p l e d with its status a s abject, signals a n ineffectual inferiority a n d lack of intention that a c c o m p a n i e s non-linguistic utterances e v e n w h e n s o u n d e d by a f e m a l e subject in the s y m b o l i c . T h e o n e - w a y reversibility of s o u n d from infant to mother grafts lack onto the maternal v o i c e a n d onto all w o m e n by a s s o c i a t i o n . T h e cry b e c o m e s the abject noise of the perpetually infantile feminine. T h e m a l e subject, on the other h a n d , deflects his o w n abjection with the aid of the a c o u s t i c mirror. A s S i l v e r m a n s u g g e s t s , theorists d e s c r i b e the a c o u s t i c mirror in relation to the maternal v o i c e a n d then conflate it with the f e m a l e v o i c e in g e n e r a l , forever burdening the f e m a l e v o i c e with the ambiguity of aural undecidability in the s y m b o l i c . S h e e x p l a i n s that the v o i c e reflected in the a c o u s t i c mirror is a n a m b i g u o u s s o u n d i n g — a l b e i t only in retrospect—of m a l e linguistic c o m p e t e n c e a n d f e m a l e linguistic i n c o m p e t e n c e . F o r the m a l e subject the f e m a l e v o i c e is strangely pre- or non-linguistic, a n incoherent b a b b l e that only he c a n translate a n d transform into linguistic mastery, e v e n before he h a s entered the s y m b o l i c .  163  S i l v e r m a n o b s e r v e s that the aural undecidability of the f e m a l e v o i c e triggers introjection a n d projection in relation to male subjectivity (80). Introjection of the mother's v o i c e aids in the d i s c o v e r y of the emerging subject's o w n v o i c e a n d identity, w h i c h m o v e s him toward discursive c o m p e t e n c e ; while projection d i s a v o w s the subject's d i s c u r s i v e instability—a reflection of the instability of l a n g u a g e in the s y m b o l i c — b y locating linguistic i n c o m p e t e n c e in his recollections of maternal s o u n d . T h u s the misrecognition that o c c u r s visually in the mirror p h a s e is mirrored (so to s p e a k ) in the c o n c e p t of the a c o u s t i c mirror, in s u c h a w a y that the child m i s r e c o g n i z e s the mother's linguistic " w h o l e n e s s " a s his o w n . In " A c o u s t i c S c u l p t u r e , D e b o n e d V o i c e s , " D o u g l a s K a h n s u g g e s t s that the c o n c e p t of the a c o u s t i c mirror is b a s e d o n a visual m o d e l rather than a n a c o u s t i c o n e . K a h n shifts the f o c u s from the visual m o d e l , the circuit of utterance a n d audition b e t w e e n two p e o p l e (mother a n d child, object a n d subject) that c r e a t e s aural undecidability, to a n a c o u s t i c m o d e l , the circuit of utterance a n d audition that coordinates the v o i c e / e a r of e a c h individual. K a h n s u g g e s t s that the coordination b e t w e e n v o c a l i z i n g a n d listening to o n e ' s o w n v o i c e b e g i n s in early c h i l d h o o d a n d is r e h e a r s e d daily (26). H e refers to this coordination a s " s e l f s a m e s p e e c h , " the p h e n o m e n o n of hearing o n e ' s ' o w n v o i c e at the m o m e n t of s p e a k i n g . T h e v o i c e that s o u n d s a n d the e a r s that h e a r unite utterance a n d audition in a s e e m i n g simultaneity K a h n d e s c r i b e s a s "hearing o n e ' s own s p e e c h " a n d " s p e a k i n g o n e ' s o w n hearing" (27). But unlike the e y e s — o r g a n s that receive light but d o not project it—the ears a n d the v o i c e form a unified " s e n s e o r g a n " that is attuned to itself. T h i s o r g a n edits a n d coordinates the external information it receives with the information g e n e r a t e d from inside the body, p r o c e s s i n g all edited material into s p e e c h (28). T h i s p r o c e s s implicates  164  the myriad interior workings of body a n d mind, including the role of the u n c o n s c i o u s , in the activity of s p e e c h ; it points to the significance of s o u n d that d o e s not belong to language  perse.  K a h n s u g g e s t s that the p r e s e n c e or a b s e n c e of r e s o n a n c e within the h e a d is a factor that distinguishes o n e ' s o w n v o i c e from the v o i c e of another. A l t h o u g h both v o i c e s are heard in the h e a d , K a h n reminds us that the quality of the v o i c e of another s p e a k e r resonating in our h e a d is different from the h e a d r e s o n a n c e w e e x p e r i e n c e with our o w n s p e a k i n g . T h e v o i c e of another is effectively " d e b o n e d " while the v o i c e of s e l f s a m e s p e e c h r e s o n a t e s deeply in our b o n e s : W h e n s p e a k i n g to other p e o p l e the h e a d r e s o n a n c e y o u hear is not heard by other p e o p l e . Y o u r v o i c e l e a v e s your lips without its skull; it is a d e b o n e d v o i c e . W h e n y o u hear your o w n s p e a k i n g v o i c e the b o n e s are in place. T h e b o n e s in question are t h o s e involved in the conduit channeling the v o i c e up from the throat through the mandible a n d skull, vibrating the basilar m e m b r a n e in the s a m e w a y a s air-conducted hearing. (32) T h e relative a b s e n c e of "bone conductivity" gives the v o i c e of the other a viscosity that is l e s s apparent in the r e s o n a n c e of o n e ' s o w n v o i c e . T h u s w e are able to identify the difference b e t w e e n our o w n v o i c e a n d the v o i c e of the other. In a s e n s e w e are more attuned to the inner v o i c e than to external s o u n d s : A i r - c o n d u c t e d hearing is not without b o n e c o n d u c t i o n , but the conduction of the h a m m e r , anvil a n d stirrup is not of the order of hearing o n e ' s own s p e e c h . In fact, during s p e e c h vibrations, the path of the tiny b o n e s is attenuated by the s t a p e d i u s m u s c l e , just a s w h e n it reacts to high intensity s o u n d s from the environment, thus deploying the audition of o n e ' s own  165  v o i c e m o r e completely to the route of other b o n e s . W h e n y o u s p e a k y o u b e c o m e a little deaf to the world. (32) B e i n g a little deaf to the world m e a n s that our e m b o d i e d v o i c e is indicative of our subjectivity, a position that is untenable for w o m e n in S i l v e r m a n ' s a n a l y s i s . S h e is unable to a c c e p t the interconnection of v o i c e to body a n d the ability of s o u n d to t r a n s g r e s s interior a n d exterior b o u n d a r i e s of the c o r p o r e a l — t h e p o w e r a n d the difference of the e m b o d i e d v o i c e . S e l f s a m e s p e e c h , then, is akin to the body voicing d e s c r i b e d by D a v i d A p p l e b a u m a n d d i s c u s s e d in C h a p t e r o n e a s the grainy v o i c e of the c o r p o r e a l that u n d e r s c o r e s the materiality of s o u n d a n d s o n i c difference. S e l f s a m e s p e e c h c o m p l i c a t e s the notion of aural undecidability, a notion that v a l u e s utterance over audition by omitting audition at the individual level, a n d u n d e r e s t i m a t e s our ability to hear a n d distinguish our o w n v o i c e from the v o i c e of another. K a h n ' s s u g g e s t i o n that the ear/voice be unified a s a single s e n s e organ gives audition e q u a l weight. S e l f s a m e s p e e c h a c c o u n t s for our ability to p e r c e i v e the s o n i c t r a n s g r e s s i o n of the b o u n d a r i e s of interior a n d exterior, a s well a s for the perception of s o n i c difference that results from the distinction b e t w e e n interiority a n d exteriority. S e l f s a m e s p e e c h p r o b l e m a t i z e s the automatic reversibility a n d c o n f u s i o n of infant cry/maternal v o i c e . S i l v e r m a n a r g u e s that the cry is " a m e c h a n i s m for d i s a v o w i n g the m a l e subject's early history, a n d for d i s p l a c i n g onto w o m a n all t r a c e s of c o r p o r e a l e x c e s s a n d d i s c u r s i v e impotence." Positioning the f e m a l e subject a s the maternal a c o u s t i c mirror forever c o n f i n e s the mother to the discursive i n c o m p e t e n c e a s s o c i a t e d with the infantile cry, b e c a u s e it e q u a t e s e m b o d i m e n t a n d interiority with m e a n i n g l e s s n e s s . S i n c e the a c o u s t i c mirror c r e a t e s a hallucinatory effect in w h i c h the mother s p e a k s a n o n s e n s i c a l  166  l a n g u a g e that is e c h o e d b a c k to the subject a s s e n s e , S i l v e r m a n urges the unequivocal d i s a s s o c i a t i o n of the f e m a l e v o i c e from the cry (79-81). T h e cry s o u n d e d from inside a s e x e d f e m a l e body h a s no a g e n c y . T h e conflation of the cry with the f e m a l e body a n d f e m a l e interiority implies that it is only w h e n a w o m a n ' s v o i c e is r e l e a s e d from its essentialist a s s o c i a t i o n with her s e x e d body that her d i s c u r s i v e p o w e r is realized. T h e exteriority of the d i s e m b o d i e d f e m a l e v o i c e c a n then s p e a k c o h e r e n t l y — a g a i n s t the unintelligible "feminine" grain a s it w e r e — i n the s y m b o l i c . S i l v e r m a n s u g g e s t s that the impetus to align the f e m a l e v o i c e with interiority, the u n c o n s c i o u s a n d semiotic s o u n d , a n d the m a l e v o i c e with exteriority, control a n d s y m b o l i c l a n g u a g e "must be understood a s a d e f e n s i v e reaction against the migratory potential of the v o i c e — a s a n attempt to restrain it within e s t a b l i s h e d b o u n d a r i e s , a n d s o prevent its uncontrolled circulation" (84). T h e migratory potential of the v o i c e conjures i m a g e s of the migratory w o m b a n d the hysteric, yet S i l v e r m a n s t o p s short of locating i s s u e s surrounding s o u n d a n d s o n i c control within the d i s c o u r s e of hysteria. P e r h a p s this is b e c a u s e hysteria s p e a k s in a n e m b o d i e d v o i c e that relies at least a s m u c h o n interiority a s exteriority. Instead, S i l v e r m a n ' s d i s c u s s i o n of the status of the f e m a l e v o i c e pivots o n the cry a n d the p r o b l e m s it presents for w o m e n . W e are left to a s k : must the cry a l w a y s be read a s infantile? C a n w o m e n recuperate n o i s e , b a b b l e a n d the cry a s viable m e a n s of e x p r e s s i o n ? S i l v e r m a n ' s solution to the problem of f e m a l e vocal/linguistic a g e n c y is to subvert f e m a l e i n c o h e r e n c e by extracting the f e m a l e v o i c e from the interiority of the maternal/female body. S h e a r g u e s that the extraction of the v o i c e from the s e x e d f e m a l e body g i v e s v o i c e a n exteriority that allows w o m e n to s p e a k with enunciative authority. F o r S i l v e r m a n the f e m a l e v o i c e must a l w a y s be d e b o n e d .  167  S i l v e r m a n s u g g e s t s that the "discursive body" s h a p e s the material body, s o that the f e m a l e body is entirely contingent upon a n d m o l d e d by d i s c o u r s e a n d representation. T h e r e is no possibility of a n "outside" to d i s c o u r s e , a n d thus the s e x e d ' body cannot exist apart from representation. For S i l v e r m a n , then, rewriting the body is a p r o c e s s of transforming "the discursive conditions under w h i c h w o m e n live their corporeality rather than the liberation of a prediscursive sexuality" (146). Interestingly here interiority a s prediscursive sexuality is positioned exterior to d i s c o u r s e , yet S i l v e r m a n d o e s not a c k n o w l e d g e the reversal. S h e maintains that s i n c e there is no place for s o n i c e x p r e s s i o n or intelligibility apart from d i s c o u r s e , the cry (as well a s noise a n d babble) b e l o n g s to a prediscursive sexuality that cannot effect the "transformation of d i s c u r s i v e conditions" that s h a p e w o m e n ' s lives or b o d i e s . S i l v e r m a n s t r e s s e s that her project d o e s not d i s m i s s femininity entirely, but attempts to recuperate the feminine from the confines of interiority a n d to rearticulate it from a non-essentialist (read d i s e m b o d i e d ) v a n t a g e point. S h e e x p l a i n s that femininity is defined by three factors in the symbolic: lack, specularity a n d d i s c u r s i v e interiority (149). T h e s e conditions are part of every subject's entry into the s y m b o l i c , a n d a s s u c h they must neither b e d i s m i s s e d nor d i s a v o w e d but rather a p p l i e d to m a l e subjectivity a s well a s f e m a l e subjectivity. In order for this to be a c c o m p l i s h e d , her strategy e m p h a s i z e s the "negative O e d i p u s c o m p l e x " — a n intermediary p h a s e occurring before the O e d i p a l p h a s e that propels the presubject toward subjectivity—in w h i c h a child r e c o g n i z e s him/herself with the help of the visual a n d auditory c u e s of the mother, a i d e d by the a c o u s t i c mirror. Identification in this s t a g e is feminine for both b o y s a n d girls a n d S i l v e r m a n p r o p o s e s that this m a k e s the little boy "feminine," at least until his full entry into the s y m b o l i c is  168  a c c o m p l i s h e d . T h e possibility of the feminine identification of the b o y provides a c o m p a n i o n theory to F r e u d ' s assertion that the little girl is a/'little m a n " prior to castration. T h e r e are other a d v a n t a g e s to this theory a c c o r d i n g to S i l v e r m a n ; it s u g g e s t s that the identification of the female child with the phallic mother in the negative O e d i p a l p h a s e positions f e m a l e homosexuality a s a n identification with the mother, rather than with the father a s is the c a s e with traditional F r e u d i a n theory (151). It a c c o u n t s for f e m a l e activity rather than passivity, a n d for a feminine relationship to l a n g u a g e that is neither p r e d i s c u r s i v e nor s y m b o l i c but located s o m e w h e r e b e t w e e n the two. T h e s e notions pivot on the reversibility of mother/daughter positions, p r e s u m a b l y carried out sonically in the a c o u s t i c mirror during the negative O e d i p a l c o m p l e x , in w h i c h the little girl h e a r s the maternal v o i c e a s her o w n , a s s h e incorporates the maternal i m a g o (154). B e c a u s e this p h a s e of the child's d e v e l o p m e n t o c c u r s before the positive O e d i p a l c o m p l e x but after the initial mirror s t a g e , it a c c o u n t s for the possibility of a partial assimilation of l a n g u a g e prior to full-blown subjectivity. F o r S i l v e r m a n , this is the s p a c e w h e r e "feminism's libidinal struggle against the phallus" s h o u l d take p l a c e . A s the stage that p r e c e d e s the positive O e d i p a l c o m p l e x , the negative O e d i p a l p h a s e e n a b l e s the girl to identify with the mother a n d d e v e l o p a m o d i c u m of f e m a l e n a r c i s s i s m . T h e girl then m o v e s through the positive O e d i p a l p h a s e in w h i c h s h e must abject the mother. In this s c e n a r i o the girl's relation to the mother remains a m b i g u o u s , b e c a u s e their discursive positions (or lack thereof) a r e a l w a y s potentially reversible. T h e girl's abjection of the mother is never entirely a c c o m p l i s h e d , then, b e c a u s e s h e is conflicted in her identification with the mother a n d unable to abject that part of herself.  169  A l t h o u g h this s p a c e of feminine identification c o u l d be interpreted a s a s p a c e of possibility for f e m a l e n a r c i s s i s m , a s S i l v e r m a n a r g u e s , it b e g s the question of w h e r e the f e m a l e a n d the feminine are actually positioned in relation to l a n g u a g e . S i l v e r m a n locates the girl at the threshold of l a n g u a g e , a s neither subject nor object, inside nor outside, but it is unclear whether this is a s p a c e of a c c e s s to both cry a n d w o r d , or a disabling inability to u s e either. S i n c e the linguistic threshold must be c r o s s e d upon entry into the s y m b o l i c , d o e s this repress the proto-, n o n - or semi-linguistic? D o e s this a m b i g u o u s positioning render f e m a l e n a r c i s s i s m silent? W h e r e d o e s this leave female homosexuality from a discursive standpoint? D o e s the girl remain discursively conflicted? If s o , how is a rewriting of the body through the rewriting of w o m e n ' s d i s c u r s i v e conditions p o s s i b l e ?  R e c l a i m i n g the C r y It is important to c h a l l e n g e the notion that non-linguistic s o u n d uttered from a f e m a l e b o d y only reinforces the cultural d i s a v o w a l of the mother's d i s c u r s i v e role in the s y m b o l i c , a n d a s s u c h is a l w a y s inadequate a n d confining. B e y o n d the reading of noise a n d non-linguistic s o u n d a s failed l a n g u a g e a n d a sign of d i s c u r s i v e i n a d e q u a c y , it is arguable that a multiplicity of s o n i c utterances (both linguistic a n d non-linguistic) c a n be enlisted to e x p r e s s a multitude of subject positions. T h i s is a m o v e toward hearing a n d interpreting n o i s e , b a b b l e a n d the cry a s s o m e t h i n g other than a representation of the inarticulate feminine. Is it p o s s i b l e to c o m m u n i c a t e through s o u n d that is not r e c o g n i z e d as language? S i l v e r m a n ' s d i s m i s s a l of the cry a s only reflective of p r e d i s c u r s i v e sexuality maintains a n opposition b e t w e e n s o u n d a n d l a n g u a g e . T h i s opposition c r e a t e s a  170  s l i p p a g e b e t w e e n feminine l a n g u a g e a n d f e m a l e sexuality, a n d in fact c o n s o l i d a t e s the finite relationship b e t w e e n s o u n d a n d the f e m a l e body that s h e w a n t s to dismantle. S i l v e r m a n d o e s not c o n s i d e r the possibility that t h e s e utterances m a y be e m p l o y e d to a c h i e v e her g o a l of transforming w o m e n ' s discursive a n d c o r p o r e a l conditions. B y a d v o c a t i n g for a reclamation of noise, b a b b l e a n d non-linguistic s o u n d s , I a m not arguing for a n y kind of direct relationship b e t w e e n the f e m a l e b o d y a n d s o m e v e r s i o n of a f e m a l e or feminine l a n g u a g e , but for a n e n g a g e m e n t of/with the s o u n d s a n d rhythms that are culturally a s s o c i a t e d with f e m a l e interiority a n d i n c o h e r e n c e in order to dismantle t h o s e very a s s o c i a t i o n s a n d disrupt linguistic c o d e s . It is worth revisiting the quotation from Kristeva's " W o m e n ' s T i m e " cited in C h a p t e r two, in w h i c h s h e d e s c r i b e s s o u n d s a n d rhythms that e x c e e d l a n g u a g e a s a signifying practice that ruptures the s y m b o l i c : "to break the c o d e , to shatter l a n g u a g e , to find a s p e c i f i c d i s c o u r s e c l o s e r to the body a n d e m o t i o n s , to the u n n a m a b l e r e p r e s s e d by the s o c i a l contract (25). This is not a n outright rejection of l a n g u a g e , but a n attempt to disarticulate the reductionism that c o l l a p s e s everything into l a n g u a g e a n d linguistic structures. K r i s t e v a ' s notion of the semiotic c h o r a a n d its function in the s y m b o l i c c a n be radically interpreted a s a s p a c e w h e r e the s e x u a l e n c o d i n g of s o u n d is broken, hierarchical difference is dismantled a n d the multiplicity of s o n i c difference is