Philosophers for millennia have tried to silence the physical musicality of voice in favor of the purity of ideas without matter, souls without bodies. Nevertheless, voices resonate among bodies, among texts, and across denotation and sound; they are singular, as unique as fingerprints, but irreducibly collective too. They are material, somatic, and musical. But voices are also meaningful—they give body to concepts that cannot exist in abstractions, essential to sense yet in excess of it. They can be neither reduced to neurology nor silenced in abstraction. They complicate the logos of the beginning and emphasize the enfleshing of all words. Through explorations of theology and philosophy, pedagogy, translation, and semiotics, all interwoven with song, The Matter of Voice works toward reintegrating our thinking about both speaking and authorial voice as fleshy combinings of meaning and music.
In this eloquently written and elegantly conceived book, Karmen MacKendrick speaks for voice--and speaks up for it--in much-needed new terms. MacKendrick ask us to recognize that voice matters in part because it is matter. The bodily and musical qualities of voice have rarely, if ever, been given their philosophical due. Moving across a wide span of concerns from literature to theology, The Matter of Voice shows why that gap in our thinking should be filled and proceeds to fill it memorably.
The Matter of Voice is a work of philosophical theology in a multidisciplinary and poetic key. Its central organizing insight is that voice and voicing are productive of corporeality and rhythm in language. As MacKendrick shows, at the heart of the voice is 'an irreducible and carnal strangeness' that refuses closure and invites passion back into thinking. The book is a sterling exemplar of the richness that results from attending to the somatic quality of words, yielding a layering of ideas that forms a virtual chorus of multiperspectival thinking.
—Patricia Cox Miller