Reading Susan Stewart on the voice in poetry, which she compares to the voice of a lover. “In listening I am listening to the material history of your connection to all the dead and the living who have been impressed upon you. The voice, with the eyes, holds within itself the life of the self—it cannot be the another’s.” (110)

I am not quite sure how the particularity of the voice then becomes attached to the voice as daimon—demonic, mediating, traversing—as Stewart suggests, though I follow her when she says that poetry is the creation of being out of nonbeing. (Is the voice non-being that becomes “being” through, first, its materiality, but more crucially through the lover’s identification of the accretion of material—which is really immaterial—with their lover? Particularity as “being.”)

Voice, she later suggests, is similar to the transgenerational haunting described by Nicolas Abraham in “L’Ecorce et le noyeau.” An amateur geologist smashes rocks on the weekend, and gases butterflies in a canister of cyanide, because his grandmother’s first love was forced into a concentration camp, where he broke rocks and was killed in a gas chamber. Voice resembles something like an emanation, superfluous, of what has become part of you without your knowledge. (115)

Sometimes I resist reading for the sole reason that I feel that it changes something in me, hardens something that I can’t identify or understand. It produces an alienation that is a response to contemplation, intake, mediation, as well as to a kind of latent understanding that I like to feel this distance, even if it threatens my being it is also, perhaps paradoxically, the only time when I feel most like I exist (in that nonbeing brought either into form—here—or wherever I go when I pick up a book (like my father retreating into his childhood bedroom to read a book after introducing my mother to his parents)). 

(Conversely, I spend a week, two weeks, reading, making tremendous progress, and then I stop—suddenly—something fails, as if I’m afraid of turning a final corner. Perhaps I’m afraid only of being who I am, but that part of me I do not fully determine.)

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