It is natural that we started with the scream, or the grunt, and then evolved into a kind of chant – the scream’s significant relative. That primordial cry of fright, pain, strength, attack, victory, discovery, satisfaction, joy, idea; that would have been the end of our congenital muteness. In the beginning was not the Verb. «It happens just like when we’re walking in the woods and suddenly, we are surprised by the variety of unprecedented animal voices. Whistles, chirps, trills, woodlike sounds or from cracked metal, tweets, ruffles, chirrups: each animal has its own sound, which springs immediately from it. Finally, the cuckoo's double note mocks our silence and reveals to us our unsustainable, voiceless being, unique in the infinite chorus of animal voices.» (Agamben) The empty voice of animals, wrote Hegel. The true primitives are the men previously to whom the earth belonged to animals. (Leroi-Gourhan)
In fact, the cry can be understood as the natural language possible for humans (or even the cry of the infant coming out of the mother's vagina), although it has been forever interrupted by the language, first spoken and then written. For example, the first words – umbilicus, umbilical, humerus, humid, one, won, wonder, wonderful, wonderland, wondering. That primordial cry – the cry is the voice without speech – signals the different, the unexpected, the shattering of a certain normality, the routine, the sameness. The cry thus comes from the new – from the event and from the astonishment – but not only that. The voice responds to the missing breast, Kristeva wrote; the voice is released from the incomplete mouth, from the open pink throat of the infant (the non-speaker); between sleep and milk, the cry that makes survive. Speech comes from hunger.
The wild beasts were stuck in the insignificant cry, and the birds in song; we too could have stayed there. Birds are bifid beings, like amphibians. All non-marine living beings are landers; even those that evolve by air always end up landing. On Earth, there is only the marine and the terrestrial – the aerial is circumstantial, temporary, contingent. Yet the element of the bird is air, not only because of the flight, but also because of the song, which, likewise, only happens in the air. Nobody else sings, only we humans accompany them. Words with air in the middle – dare, share, mare, hair, lair, bare, swear, armchair, care, fairy, clairvoyant, wayfarer, chère, wear, billionaire, scary. Whenever we sing, we are connected both to the atmosphere of the birds and to the caves of the primitives. And while organising the cry, so happened the chant – of joy, grief, magic.
Gradually, the breath (air) turns into sound (cry), the sound into word (speech), the word into form (writing), the form into sense (text); air > speech > text. Language – the speech – parasitises breathing, wrote Quignard; there, once again, speech is intimately linked to survival. Language – speech – is, therefore, pulmonary – lunguage. Crying and singing are as close to gesture as speech can; that's why screaming and singing are the most visible features of it; mouth – lung – hand. The hand connects to the trunk (lung) even before connecting to the head (mouth). Speech, like air and wind, is invisible; of visible we only recognise its putative consequences.
The word is instead of. This is the definition of sign: it is instead of; it is, therefore, rather than something that is not, which is somehow contingently invisible.
All texts are, therefore, absence after absence, successively, from left to right – or vice versa; (in one sentence, the words push the reader's eyes from one side to the other, in the hope of meaning; reading happens through hope and belief. The word is an ex-voto.) Anyway, I myself, of course, (already) am not here.
How to be – Autobiography.
Each thing forks into signifier and signified; we can add image to it, like Plato did in Letter VII – «The first thing is the name, the second is the speech that defines [logos], the third is the image [eidolon], …» We then have the thing itself [to pragma auto], the word, the definition; Kosuth, of course, took his time here. It so happens that the signified pierces the signifier and renders it, in a certain way, invisible too. The meaning blocks the word. I mean, when we read the word CAR (and we just did), we read that four wheeled-vehicle, and not the three-letter word or, much less, the arc of the 'C', the pyramidal 'A', or the hole in the 'R'. When we read, we connect ourselves to what the reading means and not to the formal surface of writing – we pay attention to the depth and not the surface. The text is a pretext and not an end. Only an abstract language reveals the word, as only an abstract painting reveals the ink that otherwise is camouflaged behind the painted image. The unreadable word is the only that is opaque and, therefore, will be the only word that is spectacularly visible, that is, obscene.
Çiuhdg vliaehl – this is the only truly visible part of this text. The unreadable word is the unspeakable, silent word, i.e., unpronounceable; it is thus still close to the cry, the grunt, the roar, in a sense, to the speechless voice of which Hegel speaks. Or else words without meaning yet, laconic, sullen words – hungsiety, poornography, technolergy, proustitution, freedomination, enduration, easytation, poortrait, gameoverture. All words were once neologisms. Fuck it, for example. The expletive, in general, has no meaning in itself; the expletive is just form and function; fuck it doesn't say, it just works; it appears to have neither subject nor object. Like son of a bitch, whose purpose is to insult not the mother but her son.
Either we understand or we see, and we only understand if the text cancels itself and allows for the meaning to reach us. Either the text or its image. Silhouette word – the light comes from behind it, so the text reaches us in black; the text is always backlit.
An image is worth a thousand words, but a single word can neutralize an image, it can be totally coercive – the orthopedic word. Les mots peuvent faire dire tout ce qu'on veut aux images; something like «Words can make images say whatever we want.» (Chris Marker) The caption tells what is seen, what to see; the word says what the image is. The word (text, language, speech) seems stronger than the image; the ear more than the eye, it could be said.
Everything that is in between is language – language is always in between, like bridges and obstacles. In this kind of quest for a fanciful arché, language is used as an amalgam term, which comprises speech, writing, word, idiom, text, language itself, etc., but above all, the written language. But, in fact, maybe it all started with mathematics, with numbers, which are mandatory for the functioning of exchanges, of commerce; maybe, in fact, after all, it all started with money. Everything begins with an egg: existence, exhibition, execution, exile.Exit