The Voice of Ambiguity

Language is imperfect. It is impossible to convey an exact meaning with words, but yet without words precise transmission of ideas and meaning is even more difficult. Cavarero states this and demonstrates it in “The Devocalization of Logos.” When comparisons are made to the visual I am stuck questioning how it is that visual information is represented as the guarantee of truth. Visual information is a two-dimensional representation (with basic cues for a third dimension) of a three dimensional world. Visual information can tell us a lot about an object in the time span in which it is visible, but very little about the essence of the object. I’m not sure that vocal information can resolve those concerns with any greater accuracy, but there is some comfort in the possibility of interrogative or bi-directional information such as is possible with vocal communication.

Cavarero brings together many perspectives about voice, some of which are complimentary, whereas others are almost conflicting. It is sometimes difficult to discern whether she is discussing voice as an audible act, a written act or as a component of agency.  In any form, she argues that the voice is regarded as unworthy of attention in philosophy, but I cannot say that I have seen this treatment. The center of academic life (which sadly, is the primary realm in which philosophy has any power) is conversation between the knowledgeable people in the field. Academic conferences (and various Symposia) are the site of knowledge exchange. Voices are often lost in these settings and therefore  I suppose that from that perspective it can be seen as being disregarded by philosophy.

Cavarero spends more time with the dead guys of Greek philosophy than I care to think about, but she does make some interesting points regarding the position of vocal communication in relation to other ways of perceiving.  I am left feeling as though I would have greater success with understanding her more subtle points if I had a stronger understanding of the work of Plato.