The body speaks, among other things. And speaks about what? Bodies and their relations to other things, other bodies. Putting things this way may seem a little crass. Perhaps we invert the picture: language speaks of and in concepts, concepts that coat things like a thin film, and require a body as support as a mere historical, causal contingency.
But from this more sanitary way of putting things, the body appears as a violent truncation of language: the closing lips chopping it into ‘bits’, speech impediments, stutters, and the words manifesting only as fast as a mouth or hands can move. A bodily cage for ephemeral language. Each of us a Caliban.
But what violence is there in the other picture, where bodies speak of bodies? A direct aural violence, that in its pure contractions misses the ephemeral film of concepts, all muscle no skin.
Both of these readings form a kind of alchemy, a reduction to simple salts and minerals — either the dumb Newtonism of bodies, or ghostly Platonism of concepts. Both of them miss the paradox of the speaking animal, the meaning meat.
Perhaps Nietzsche gets close, when he looks at the grotesque bust of Socrates and, instead of seeing a mortal container (Socrates is a man, all men are…), sees the embodiment and refutation of Socraticism in the deformity. As witty as Nietzsche’s critique of Socrates is, we shouldn’t isolate it to the single case, an acerbic diatribe, but tease out the implications of what it means to read an entire dialectics out of a face, out of a body. The body then transforms from its mortal cage into a properly dialectical material substance. A logical negation in a furrowed brow, a syllogism completing with a snap of the fingers. That fine and impossible line between compelling and pressing.
. . .
The voice reaches out, and fills any volume it finds itself in, brimming, reverberating concepts colouring the concrete, and then disintegrating.