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The acousmatic voice as the chiasmic flesh: an analysis of Howard Barker’s Gertrude-the Cry

The acousmatic voice as the chiasmic flesh: an analysis of Howard Barker’s Gertrude-the Cry
The acousmatic voice as the chiasmic flesh: an analysis of Howard Barker’s Gertrude-the Cry
Accordingly, ontological, aesthetic and ethical issues appear to constitute the recurrent motifs and pervasive concerns of Gertrude-the Cry. In this essay, I diverge from the prevalent critical approaches hitherto adopted towards the play (see Rabey, Smith, Gritzner), which invariably tend to posit Gertrude as the cynosure of the play in two respects: as the paradigmatic figure of the play and as the source of the cry and its correlates (transgression, sacrifice and eroticism). It is my contention, however, that it is the cry that forms the eccentric centre of the play; in addition, I will interrogate the standard ascription of the cry to Gertrude, an approach which leaves many of the crucial concerns of the play unresolved. Based on this argument - and given the semantically and ontologically overdetermined nature of the cry (its irresolvably indeterminate relation to the body, subjectivity, the Other, and signification) coalesced with its being inextricably bound up with four fundamental preoccupations of the play (logos, thanatos, pathos and eros) - I propose the concept of “acousmatic voice” to be able to effectively capture and account for the aporetics of the cry as well as concomitant problematics of the play. It is Alireza Fakhrkonandeh The Acousmatic Voice as the Chiasmic Flesh Symploke 257 my claim that the appropriation of such an equally charged and multivalent concept (acousmaticity), deployed both in philosophy and psychoanalysis, provides us with the viable conceptual means for tackling and unravelling the tensions and contradictions of the play and to explore the cry as the event. As I will demonstrate, the establishment of this argument also leads to reveal some of the pivotal features of Barker’s later dramaturgy. To this end, my discussion is composed of four interrelated parts. In the first part, I aim to establish the dramatic and philosophical centrality of the cry by eliciting ample textual evidence of its substantial role as regards the thematics of the play and the dynamics of the characters and their interrelations. Secondly, I suggest the eventful moments of proximal relation and radical transgression to entail a crisis-stricken mode of subjectivity and to be defiant of representation; and, thus, the compelling necessity for the cry with an acousmatic essence as the expression of the “event” and characters’ mode of experience of the Impossibles. Thirdly, elaborating on the concept of acousmaticity, I expound its philosophical and psychoanalytical premises and dimensions juxtaposed with relevant facets of the play. Finally, predicated on the preceding arguments, I scrutinize the play and seek to substantiate the acousmaticity of the cry within it, striving to probe the implications and ramifications of this idiosyncrasy with relation to the preoccupations of the characters; also evincing the trajectory of Barker’s later work and the attitude towards and conception of self, Other and the nature of their relation in general.
1069-0697
235-273
Fakhrkonandeh, Alireza
01a37fed-90cb-4b0c-a72e-32276e951e5f
Fakhrkonandeh, Alireza
01a37fed-90cb-4b0c-a72e-32276e951e5f

Fakhrkonandeh, Alireza (2014) The acousmatic voice as the chiasmic flesh: an analysis of Howard Barker’s Gertrude-the Cry. Symploke, 22 (1-2), 235-273.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Accordingly, ontological, aesthetic and ethical issues appear to constitute the recurrent motifs and pervasive concerns of Gertrude-the Cry. In this essay, I diverge from the prevalent critical approaches hitherto adopted towards the play (see Rabey, Smith, Gritzner), which invariably tend to posit Gertrude as the cynosure of the play in two respects: as the paradigmatic figure of the play and as the source of the cry and its correlates (transgression, sacrifice and eroticism). It is my contention, however, that it is the cry that forms the eccentric centre of the play; in addition, I will interrogate the standard ascription of the cry to Gertrude, an approach which leaves many of the crucial concerns of the play unresolved. Based on this argument - and given the semantically and ontologically overdetermined nature of the cry (its irresolvably indeterminate relation to the body, subjectivity, the Other, and signification) coalesced with its being inextricably bound up with four fundamental preoccupations of the play (logos, thanatos, pathos and eros) - I propose the concept of “acousmatic voice” to be able to effectively capture and account for the aporetics of the cry as well as concomitant problematics of the play. It is Alireza Fakhrkonandeh The Acousmatic Voice as the Chiasmic Flesh Symploke 257 my claim that the appropriation of such an equally charged and multivalent concept (acousmaticity), deployed both in philosophy and psychoanalysis, provides us with the viable conceptual means for tackling and unravelling the tensions and contradictions of the play and to explore the cry as the event. As I will demonstrate, the establishment of this argument also leads to reveal some of the pivotal features of Barker’s later dramaturgy. To this end, my discussion is composed of four interrelated parts. In the first part, I aim to establish the dramatic and philosophical centrality of the cry by eliciting ample textual evidence of its substantial role as regards the thematics of the play and the dynamics of the characters and their interrelations. Secondly, I suggest the eventful moments of proximal relation and radical transgression to entail a crisis-stricken mode of subjectivity and to be defiant of representation; and, thus, the compelling necessity for the cry with an acousmatic essence as the expression of the “event” and characters’ mode of experience of the Impossibles. Thirdly, elaborating on the concept of acousmaticity, I expound its philosophical and psychoanalytical premises and dimensions juxtaposed with relevant facets of the play. Finally, predicated on the preceding arguments, I scrutinize the play and seek to substantiate the acousmaticity of the cry within it, striving to probe the implications and ramifications of this idiosyncrasy with relation to the preoccupations of the characters; also evincing the trajectory of Barker’s later work and the attitude towards and conception of self, Other and the nature of their relation in general.

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e-pub ahead of print date: 30 December 2014
Published date: 30 December 2014

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Local EPrints ID: 413716
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/413716
ISSN: 1069-0697
PURE UUID: 1ed8df3a-d043-4e74-97de-883d25a3d8b6

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Date deposited: 01 Sep 2017 16:31
Last modified: 12 Dec 2021 07:33

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