A writer-editor-teacher’s quote of the week #142

It is thus useless to set off in quest of this voice that has been simultaneous colonized and mythified by recent Western history. There is, moreover, no such pure “voice,” because it is always determined by a system (whether social, familial, or other) and codified by a way of receiving it. Even if the voices of each group composed a sonic landscape – a site of sounds – that was easily recognizable, a dialect – an accent – can be discerned by the mark is leaves on a language, like a delicate perfume; even if a particular voice can be distinguished among countless others by the way it caresses or irritates the body that hears it, like a musical instrument played by an invisible hand, there is no unique unity among the sounds of presence that the enunciatory act gives a language in speaking it. Thus we must give up the fiction that collects all these sounds under the sign of a “Voice,” or a “Culture” of its own— or of the great Other’s. Rather, orality insinuates itself, like one of the threads of which it is composed, into the network – an endless tapestry – of a scriptural economy.

– from the chapter, “The Scriptural Economy” in The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau, translated by Steven Rendell (1984)

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