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Text and Performance Quarterly

Vol. 24, No. 2, April 2004, pp. 91-114

i j Routledge

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Mourning Speech: Haunting and the Spectral Voices of Nine-Eleven

Joshua Gunn

In this essay I forward a psychoanalytic theory of haunting that privileges the object of speech in cultural and theatrical performance. Using this theory, I analyze the mass media exploitation of the panicked and dying voices of Nine-eleven. I conclude with two observations. First, performance is haunted by an ontological dualism central to subjectivity, which challenges any easy distinction between the live and the recorded. Second, the Nine-eleven archive is frequently used in the civic performance of political amnesia.

Keywords: Speech; Audience; Haunting; Mourning; Melancholia; Archive; Repertoire; Dualism

Only when the horror of annihilation is raised fully into consciousness are we placed in the proper relationship to the dead: that of unity with them, since we, like them, are victims of the same conditions and of the same disappointed hope. (Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno 178)

A specter is haunting the United States. It made its most visible appearance on the ninety-day anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001 as two "ghosts, two

ethereal columns of pure light

brought down the World Trade Center towers" (Saffron par. 1). The twin beams highlighted a profound need to visualize the invisible, to presence the absent, to materialize a phantom lurking in a dark and smoky night sky. The phantasmagoria was only discernable from a distance, requiring the hovering clouds of smoke and smog to make itself known. The gigantic, glowing presence of the lights seemed to

filling the dark void created when terrorists

Joshua Gunn is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Earlier versions of this paper were delivered to the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and to the Communication Department at Georgia State University in Atlanta. The author thanks Michael Bowman, Mindy Fenske, Ronald Walter Greene, Tracy Stephenson, Nathan Stormer, and the anonymous reviewers for their advice and patience. Correspondence to:

Joshua Gunn, Department of Communication Studies, Louisiana State University, 136 Coates Hall, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA. Tel: + 1 770 423 6338; Email:

ISSN 1046-2937 (print)/lSSN 1479-5760 (online) © 2004 National Communication Association DOI: 10.1080/1046293042000288344

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deliver sense of relief. "Not seeing the buildings there has been such a wound," said one observer. "I know they're never coming back, but these lights help the healing" (Saffron par. 1). Perhaps because ghosts function to remind us of something absent,

just a short month later, the lights were deliberately snuffed

More than simply an attempt to honor the deceased, the memorial of light was part of a litany of ceremonies and suppUcations orchestrated to restore a sense of stability to a polity of survivors. A contrast of presences and absences was central to each somber rite. Before the memorial of light, numerous, smaller rites of remem- brance echoed the sudden absence of the lights in their many calculated silences, such as the one held on February 26, 2002, in which families and friends of the victims of the attacks on September II, 2001, joined those of the victims of the first attempt to bomb the World Trade Center in a lengthy moment of contemplation. "During the moment of silence, all work halted, construction workers removed their helmets and a bagpiper played 'Amazing Grace' " (Stewart AlO). On the sixth month anniversary of the attacks, a service was held in Lower Manhattan to remember the victims. Two moments of silence were held at 8:46 and 9:03 a.m. to relive the moments when each plane struck a tower. "Please join me in a moment of silence" intoned Mayor Bloomberg at the end of the ceremony, "the second plane has just struck the second tower."

Although we are often led to believe that Western modes of perception are dominated by the image, Michel Chion urges us to recognize our "vococentrism": in every sonic environment, "the presence of a human voice instantly sets up a hierarchy of perception." "There are voices," says Chion, "and then everything else" (5). Moments of silence help us to hear better the way in which the human voice

structures the sonorous in terms of its very absence. For example, on May 30, 2002, a ceremony of silence provoked much discussion by reporters, who eulogized the last day of recovery and salvage as if it were a person: "It began almost nine months ago with the frightening thunder of jet engines, explosions, screams and sirens," wrote

one reporting team. "It ended in

and women began to walk wordlessly up the steel ramp" (Haberman and Neuman 2). Television news programs made notice of the long silences as well. "David Bloom joins me now from ground zero for the ceremonies," said NBC's Tom Brokaw that morning. "David, this is going to be a ceremony mostly of silence. Why is that?" As impromptu reporters are apt to do. Bloom did not answer the question: "Tom, it's because it's a solemn, 20-minute ceremony [that] is meant most especially for the more than 1700 hundred families who still have found no trace of their relatives who died here" (Brokaw paras. 2-5). Although perhaps unintended, the reporter's remarks interestingly align the visible with the audible, and the unseen with the unspoken. A trace is, of course, a visible mark or audible sign of a former concrete presence, literally a ghost of what was. In this context, silence suggests a profound need for vocalic traces, an intense desire for sonorous ghosts.

As is the case with most critical analyses, in this essay I mourn for the dead by conjuring their ghosts. But I also mourn for the loss of something singularly human:

voice. More specifically, I lament the disappearance of speech from many of our


with excruciating slowness [fifteen] men




departmental nameplates, and I make an intentionally polemical call for its return in the examination and criticism of contemporary cultural and theatrical performances. Drawing on the insights of psychoanalytic theory, I suggest that the haunting of speech can be understood in two related senses. First, the haunting of speech refers to the ghosting or spectralization of the human voice that results from the forgetting catalyzed by the dominance of visuality. Second, the haunting of speech refers to haunting by the human voice, or the ways in which speech troubles us as a disembodied object, which is the consequence of technologies of recording and

telepresence (e.g., the phonograph and telephone; see Peters 177-225; Sconce 59-91). Understood in this double sense, I suggest that the haunting of speech demonstrates that haunting in general is a common experience in our lives that has little to do with superstition or the paranormal. Rather, haunting is a psychical force motivating performances that attempt to mourn, a force animating practices that attempt to presence the dead in traces as a means of knowing and, especially in respect to media coverage of Nine-eleven, as a means of coping. Further, because ghosts paradoxically denote an absence made present, I also suggest that the notion of vocal or sonorous haunting helps to challenge the imagocentric, representational logics motivating clean distinctions between what Diana Taylor has termed the "archive" and the "repertoire," often experienced as a dichotomy between the written (recorded) and the embodied (live). I conclude by arguing that the haunting of speech points to a radical alienation of the subject from the biological body, and the murdering made possible by the simultaneous recognition and repression of this



The Idiom of Haunting

According to the OED, the dominant meaning of "haunt" is to "practice [something] habitually, familiarly, or frequently." Essentially, haunting is a repetitive practice of an individual in relation to something familiar, a meaning that eventually became associated with ghosts, those disembodied beings draped in sheets that some readers are imagining. In her masterful exploration of ghosts as an idiom of subjectivity. Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination, Avery Gordon suggests

that haunting "describes how that which appears not to be there is often a seething

presence, acting on and often melding with taken-for-granted that:

realities." She argues

the ghost is just the sign, or the empirical evidence if you like, that tells you a haunting is taking place. The ghost is not simply a dead or missing person, but a social figure, and investigating it can lead to that dense site where history and subjectivity make


Being haunted draws us affectively, sometimes against our will and always

a bit magically, into the structure of feeling of a reality we come to experience, not as cold knowledge, but as a transformative recognition. (8)

As an idiom for scholarship, haunting seems to require an interpretive wedding of

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the intrinsic and extrinsic, the historical and the subjective, the external and internal. Haunting ties one to a "structure of feeling," an entire web of communal produc- tions and emotions during a specific moment (Williams 25-41). Further, ghost hunting, trying to document the traces of what was or that which eludes in scholarly performance, necessarily forces one to articulate a historical and emotional context.' For these reasons the idiom of haunting has been somewhat popular in performance scholarship; haunting neatly encapsulates the interplay of presence and absence central to performance. Herbert Blau has referenced the "ghostliness" of perform- ance as the Eternal Return of some, unmentionable "interior resistance" {Eye 172-73). Similarly, Marvin Carlson describes the memorial function of theatre as "ghosting," which concerns the accretion of audience memories of past perfor- mances into a kind of terministic screen or perceptive filter (7, 58—63). Extending Roland Barthes' observation that photography captures ghosts in its "rehearsal for death," Peggy Phelan has suggested the same of cultural performances, adding that

unlike any other art form, live "performance

ities of disappearance," and "enacts the productive appeal of the nonreproductive" ("Francesca Woodman" 980; Unmarked 27, 146-66; also see Kairschner 14-20). In distinction from Carlson's positivistic materialism, however, for Phelan ghosting could be characterized as that which replicates without reproduction (also see Haraway 149-81). Ghosting captures the "ontology of performance," understood as the way in which performers' bodies are used to emphasize the impossibility of physical and psychical harmony, the lie of representation (Phelan, Unmarked 150-


Haunting, then, suggests much more than a tidy critical protocol. Gordon writes that she was led to the idiom because "the available critical vocabularies were


subjection and subjectivity

Posts (e.g., poststructuralism, postmodernism, posthumanism, and so on), which has helped to produce an understanding of subjectivity that no longer requires the sense of unity, coherence, or autonomy implied by the concept of the individual (see Silverman, Subject 126-93). Consequently, haunting is also an idiom that challenges

traditional notions of audience as a discretely knowable group of individuals, insofar as any performative encounter produces, and is produced by, uncontrollable sub- jects. "Although we may sometimes think so," suggests Craig Gingrich-Philbrook, "the audience is neither as singular, nor as single minded, as a swarm of angry bees" (90). Even so, Herbert Blau has suggested that "how we think about an audience is

understands the generative possibil-

to communicate the depth, density, and intricacies of the dialectic of

" (8). She refers, of course, to the critical project of the

a function of how we think about ourselves

date the urge for collective experience" (Audience 28). While no one would deny the obvious distinction between the folks "sitting out there" and the folks "moving around up here," the audience is nevertheless a discursive production that reflects more about the person or group who brings them into being than the thoughts or

desires of some quantifiable number of bodies "out there." The audience, in other words, is us. Blau's observations should be read against the claim that those interested in

and how, if at all, we may accommo-

Mourning Speech 95

performance have yet to develop sophisticated vocabularies or methods for under-

standing "audience." Linda M. Park-Fuller has argued, for example, that "few recent studies of audience exist" because of "privileging of performing over audience" and the "lack of sophisticated language and procedures" (304). In search of a "sophisticated" alternative, Park-Fuller suggests that "quantitative methods loom

large as an obvious methodological choice

social disturbance and regeneration prompted by performance" (290-91). Ironically, psychoanalysis, one of the most sophisticated perspectives for discussing audience reception or "audiencing," is passed over, presumably because it renders the concept of audience "chaotic" (289).^ Below, I argue that insofar as cultural performance in general is experienced as a haunting, this chaotic (read "abstract") audience can be mapped and understood with psychoanalytic theory.

to measure the types and extent of

Suhjectification and the Pleasure of Uncertain Derivatives

Freud worried that "psycho-analysis has little prospect of becoming liked or popu- lar" because its jargon referenced unverifiable hypotheses and postulates that "are "

bound to seem very strange to ordinary modes of thought

Lessons" 282). One of those strange, unverifiable postulates is that ghosts, under- stood as phantasms or fantasies, have real effects (see Gunn, "Refitting Fantasy" 1-23; Laplanche and Pontalis 314—18; Zizek, Plague 3-44). In other words, one of the fundamental principles of psychoanalysis is that psychical life is haunted, that the experiential world is a parade of memories, mnemic traces, and perceptual ghosts that may not necessarily correspond to a mind-independent reality—nor should it have to (in fact, in Lacanian psychoanalysis, any attempt to adapt the haunted psyche to some "natural" environment is rejected out of hand; see van Haute xxvii-xliii). Because of this extraordinary position against adaptation, no other theoretical perspective has mapped the complexities of ghosts and haunting more than psychoanalysis, so much so that it would seem impossible to ignore it when addressing haunting as a performative phenomenon (strangely, Carlson has in fact achieved the impossible by writing an entire book about haunting and performance that avoids any mention of psychoanalysis). In spite of its challenging prose, psychoanalysis does offer a sophisticated alternative to understanding audience reception without recourse to positivism or quantitative measures.'' This alternative does concern, however, the audience in the abstract, or understanding the experience of an audience, as well as the performer, in terms of a more technical understanding of "the subject."

("Some Elementary

Ghosts and haunting comprise one of the most popular idioms that psychoana- lytic scholars have used to grapple with the key difficulty of our posthumanist awakening: (over)simply expressed, the subject is fragmented or "split," a dialectical exchange of internal and external forces that, absent of the certitude and fixity of Enlightenment "man" (e.g., the masculinized, rational agent), is difficult to analyze, much less understand. Jacques Lacan's psychical description of the split subject as a continual mediation of conscious, preconscious, and unconscious elements is the

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most well-known psychoanalytic theory of subjectification. Although Lacan is an

obscure writer and difficult to read (in good humor, Althusser speaks of Lacan as "the 'Gongora of psychoanalysis,' 'Grand Dragon,' great officiator of an esoteric


produce new idioms for thinking and talking about "hitherto unexpressed workings of the unconscious," which are impossible to capture fully (Kearney 271). The necessity of producing new ways to speak about the unconscious is in turn premised on the assumption that the notion of a coherent and unified subject is an illusion that represses unconscious dynamics. The idea of the individual as we commonly think about it is a mistake of consciousness, a mistake of embracing an imagined unified vision of the self, or imago, over tbe reality of the symbolic structures that constitute us—structures that precede our birth and that will continue long after our death. The most primary and privileged of these structures for Lacan is language or representation, otherwise known as the Symbolic order or the big "Other."

In Lacan's scheme, the imagination or the "imaginary" (as a noun) also plays a central role in subjectivity. The imaginary is botb a mytbic stage of development and an order of tbe psyche. As a mythic stage or allegory of subject development, tbe imaginary refers to a moment in childhood maturation that Lacan calls tbe "mirror stage." In this stage of maturation, tbe child, wbo experiences him- or herself as a fragmented, incoberent collection of desires and memories, happens upon an image of bim or berself in a "looking glass" or reflective surface. Tbis image stimulates tbe idea of a complete entity entirely independent of otbers: tbe imago (Lacan, "Mirror" 1-7; also see Lacan, "Split" 67-78). Seeing her or bis unified copy, tbe cbild triumpbantly proclaims, "that's me!" As tbe cbild grows older, tbe imago, in turn, becomes invested witb all sorts of expectations from witbout (e.g., from its motber). For Lacan, tbis primary identification witb tbe mirror image and tbe consequent imago is a mistake, and as subjects we are constantly negotiating a series of bomologous gaps tbat tbe imago belies (for example, between tbe conscious and unconscious). Insofar as tbe imago is an impossible ideal from witbout, it is also necessarily of tbe Otber. Because we constantly pursue tbe imago for a sense of unity, for a sense of "individuality," we are necessarily being-for-Otber. One migbt also say tbat tbe imago is a kind of gbost and one of tbe many imaginary elements tbat comprise tbe domain of ideology. Inspired by Lacanian psycboanalysis, Louis Altbusser argued tbat tbe primary function of ideology is to "interpellate" us as subjects wbo believe tbat tbey/we are autonomous "individuals" ("Ideology" 127- 86). In tbis sense, becoming a subject (subjectification) involves tbe continuous and repetitive baunting of ideology, wbicb is tbe performance of repression par excellence. Witbout a gbost to provide tbe map of consciousness, tbe individual is merely a mindless, biologically driven macbine. Tbis continuous, largely unconscious per- formance of subjectification produces identity, and tbe process or doing of tbis performance is often termed "performativity" (Butler 171-90).

Tbe ambivalence of Self/Otber central to modern subjectivity leads to a number of questions tbat are difficult to answer: Wbat are tbe limits of buman agency? To what degree is subjectivity determined by forces from witbout—linguistic, economic.



21),'* the difficulty of his prose is intentional and designed to




ideological, and/or biological? The idiom of haunting provides us with a compelling way to negotiate (as opposed to a way to solve or answer) these kinds of questions. Further, the haunting idiom also helpfully brings into focus the ways in which audiences are interpellated as the subjects of a cultural or theatrical performance. The invisible presence of ghosts, the there/not there, seen/not seen, heard/not heard ambivalence of tbat which haunts is homologous to the contradictions of the modern subject. In this context, performance can be understood as a field of haunting not only in the sense of subjectification in general (tbat is, performativity, the continuous identity performances of actor and audience alike), but also in the sense of how a given public is made subject to a given performance.' In other words, the ways in which an audience is brought into being by a given performance reflects the more fundamental haunting of subjectification, a central premise of the psycho- analytic approach to "audience."

Mourning, Melancholia, Archive, Repertoire

If haunting is habitual, then it is a kind of compulsion to repeat, an instinctual,

pleasurable behavior most noticeable in children and neurotics. Freud outlined repetition compulsion in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920):

Novelty is always the condition of enjoyment. But children will never tire of asking an adult to repeat a game that he has shown them or played with them, till he is too

exhausted to go on. And if a child has been told a nice story, he will insist on hearing

repetition, the re-experiencing of

it over and over again rather than a new

something identical, is clearly in itself a source of pleasure. (42)

Repetition is the basis oi form itself, and the recognition of the repetition of form


the source of pleasure for the audience of any performance (Burke 30-31). Novelty


also a source of pleasure, and in the context of the repetition of form, it appears

in terms of a unique iteration of the identical (e.g., a particular performance of a

play, a live performance of a hit song, and so on). Yet, as the principal forms of haunting, ghosts make the process a compulsory and therefore neurotic one because their origins or motives are unknown or forgotten (as in the supernatural sense) or repressed. Repetition compulsion is necessarily a cycle, and repetitive behaviors continue because the origins of the compulsion are concealed, as is the case, for example, with a person who is haunted by the same dream night after night. Only by remembering the source or origin of a compulsion, argued Freud, will a compulsion (or haunting) cease. Hence, ghosts can also be understood as represen- tatives of the causes of repetition, as marks of the unmarked, as conscious, symptomatic illusions of unconscious wishes and forgotten deeds, and haunting, as

a simultaneous experience of the pleasure and pain that ghosts inspire. In short, haunting is a semiotics of repression.*

Understood as a compulsion to repeat, the continuous need to memorialize and revisit the catastrophe of Nine-eleven is symptomatic of an obsessive haunting, a cultural performance of witnessing, a longing to return to, and escape from, the

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violent scene. What keeps audiences watching, reading, and listening to the stories of the victims of the attacks years after they occurred is the complex, contradictory pleasures of terror made possible by split or ambivalent subjectivity. Many of us have felt a compulsive need to consume continuously one Nine-eleven media product after another. Although it almost goes without saying that it is in the interest of media capitalism to perpetuate a sense of crisis and anomie in order to stimulate consumption (Chvasta and LeVan; Gunn and Beard), ironically the representational logic funding the mass media simultaneously urges the spectator to "move on," to distance herself from the traumatic loss, and thus to mourn.

From a psychoanalytic vantage, this curiously pleasurable experience of repetition compulsion, of moving back and forth between trauma and reflection, grief and consumption, is often described as a kind of unsuccessful mourning or "melancholia." According to Freud, "normal" mourning concerns the psychical process by which an individual is able to "detach" herself from a loved object that has been lost, which is only accomplished by working through and archiving the matrix of mnemonic traces and memories (fantasies) associated with the lost object. Melancholia, however, involves an identification and internalization of the lost object as a phantasmal body, a spectral consumption of the imaginary object and the consequent inability to expel or detach it from the ego (Freud, "Mourning" 243-58; also see Fischer 115-31). Diana Taylor's personal narrative in her remarkable book. The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas, helpfully illustrates the work of mourning in a chapter titled, "Lost in the Field of Vision: Witnessing September 11." There she recounts a photographic compulsion and obsessive recycling of mediated bits that is typical of melancholia:

Like many others, I went inside to turn on the television, trying to find sense in what

I was seeing. I could not assimilate it, either live or on TV. As in a sports stadium, I

I'd turn to the television and see the running, the

screaming, the collage of frantic yet nonetheless contained images of disaster on the Then I'd run back to the window. I took a photograph, not knowing why exactly, and started taping the CNN broadcast: TV, window, photo, TV, window,

watched both at the same

photo, back and forth


Like Taylor, the television would also perform similarly, "obsessively" repeating images, "itself trapped in the traumatic loop" (241). The mirroring performance of Taylor and her television was a kind of perseveration, a kind of bodily stuttering, an inability to accept what had already been understood unconsciously as the arrival of death. And yet:

Each click of my camera was my own pause/hold, as I entered into the suspended

rhythm of the present. The archival impulse prompted me to save the images to understand them at some future time. One day I would write about it, I told myself, even as I considered taking out my journal and writing about it now. I put the now away for later. I envisioned the moment from the postnow, what I would do with it

from a safe distance, sorting through the neat, glossy 4X 6 images

of disaster. (241)

After the towers fell, the haunting would continue in autoethnography, "in the




performance of the existence of what no longer was physically there" (Taylor 247), principally in photography and scholarship. This move toward reflection marks the shift from melancholia to grief and, finally, the acceptance of loss. Taylor's move- ment from pathological mourning, from an inability to detach from the lost object, to what Freud would characterize as proper mourning, is dependent on moving away from an experience of lived trauma toward recording and documentation. In Taylor's terms, the process of mourning would seem to move from lived, embodied, expressive performance, or "the repertoire," toward the comforting logic

of progressive temporality, "the archive." Her initial, neurotic movement from the

television, to the window, to the viewfinder—"TV, window, photo, TV, window, photo, back and forth"—worked against the archival impulse because of a desirous inability to escape the (impossible) experience of the immanent present or never- ending now; the performance of the ephemeral movement of body in space enacted

a repertoire of embodied knowledge—watch, take, look—in a kind of nervous

feedback loop. Archival memory, however, only exists in terms of "documents,

maps, literary texts

power" as it "works across distance, over time and space" (19). The archival impulse to take pictures that Taylor describes in her Nine-eleven experience is therapeutic

because it functions to separate "the source of 'knowledge' from the knower" (19).

If all performance is a rehearsal for death, then both the archive and the repertoire are needed to avoid performative melancholia, to avoid getting stuck with the ghost

of the object that has left or been lost.' Yet to successfully grieve, time must intervene

and mourning must eventually succumb to the archival. Losing one's identity in the perpetual live, in this sense, is a melancholic madness, a spectral stuttering most discernable in moments of monumental catastrophe like Nine-eleven. Insofar as Taylor notes that trauma makes witnesses of us all, then the mournful experience of haunting seeks to move us from the embodied stuttering of the repertoire arising in traumatic experiences to the comforting past-ness and silence of archival spectatorship (252). Even the more mundane context of performance art creates a homologous, mournful haunting, for it creates an experience in which the subject attempts to reduce and file away the trauma of performance into the security of meaning, place, and past. Melancholic haunting, consequently, is of a different category. While it is a kind of mourning, melancholic haunting resists the work of mourning. Melancholic haunting is seemingly live, in the moment, and unmediated. Melancholic haunting seems to capture the pure effect of the collapse of archive and repertoire, a continuous, embodied enactment, citation, and iteration of archival traces of the lost.

bones, videos, films," and it is the sort of thing that "sustains

The Uncanny Un(re)marked

Un-Real Visibility

So far I have suggested that the audience, broadly conceived, can be understood fruitfully with reference to the psychoanalytic understanding of subjectification and

100 / . Gunn

the idiom of haunting. Using Diane Taylor's description of the dialectical work of the archive and repertoire, I have also suggested that the haunting performance can be understood in terms of an experiential continuum between the mournful work of archiving and the melancholic neuroses of the repertoire; melancholic haunting characterizes a liminal state in which the continuum folds upon itself in trauma, a collapse of the archival and the repertoire. Put alternately, the archival represents the successful work of mourning, whereas the repertoire represents the manifold ways in which the object of mourning cannot be grieved—melancholia. If anything, Taylor's account of Nine-eleven is a testament to the hegemony of the archive. But what is this impossible object of the repertoire? What is this thing that cannot be detached or grieved? What is this loved object that the archive attempts and fails to frame or capture in order to move on? Psychoanalytic theory, particularly of the Lacanian variety, terms this impossible to describe object of love and loss the "objet a," which, in general, is any object that sets the subject's desire into motion (ultimately, this is the desire for the Other's desire; see Fink 50-71; Lacan, "Tuche" 276; Zizek, Metastases 177-181). Yet the key characteristic of this stimulus that is most relevant to haunting is its impossibility; the objet a connotes the order of the Real. The Real is the traumatic ineffable, that which escapes the symbolic and cannot be represented, and ultimately that which is impossible (see Biesecker 222-40; Evans 159-61; Lacan, "Tuche"; Lacan, "Deconstruction" 165-8). In this sense, the mournful production of archival mem- ory attempts to represent that which cannot be represented, which seems more properly the province of the repertoire. The liveness betokened by intimations of the Real, that which is constantly experienced and repressed in the performance of daily life, and, most notably, that which is directly experienced in trauma, cannot be archived. Insofar as performance could be characterized as dancing around the Real, one can understand why so many performance artists and practitioners are reticent to video tape their theatrical performances. As Taylor notes:

The live performance can never be captured or transmitted through the archive. A video of a performance is not a performance, though it often comes to replace the performance as a thing in itself (the video is part of the archive; what it represents is part of the repertoire). Embodied memory, because it is live, exceeds the archive's ability to capture it. (20)

When a live performance is recorded, the presumed source of liminality and the unsettling, political flows of the libidinal and melancholic that Taylor terms "embodied memory," this is to say, the haunting of performance, gets screened in many senses. As Taylor's Nine-eleven snap-shots attest, this is because the archival impulse is always subject to the hegemony of visibility, the spectral, fixing work of subjectification, and this is precisely the reason why theorists like Judith Butler and Peggy Phelan critique identity politics as a kind of Oedipal blinding to the protean possibilities that emerge in the Real (also see Reinelt 97—107). As Phelan notes, all




discourses are subject to the hegemonic freeze of representation. All discourses, from Nine-eleven, to science, to law, to:

theatrical realism, autobiography, and psychoanalysis are alike in believing their own

terms to be the most


But what is less familiar is the way in which the visible itself is woven into each of these discourses as an unmarked conspirator in the maintenance of each discursive real.

(Unmarked 3)

fundamental route to establishing or unsettling the stability of

I know this sounds oh-so-familiar to the ears of weary poststructuralist.

Visibility as such is a trap, argues Phelan, because, like all representation, "it summons surveillance and the law," erasing in the process "the power of the unmarked, unspoken, and unseen" [Unmarked 6-7). In reference to media coverage of the events on September 11, 2001, then, one may be led to ask: what has the tyranny of visibility and the fetishization of Nine-eleven erased? What do our archival memories of that fateful day obscure? Have we mourned, or are we still afflicted with a melancholic haunting by something we cannot let go, file away, or otherwise visually represent? The answer, of course, has something to do with speech.

Nine-Eleven and the "Real" Body of Voice

Regardless of the archival entry one consults, the cultural performance of Nine- eleven was unquestionably sonorous, riddled with the sounds of explosions, sirens, speeches, and silence. Perhaps more than the creation of memorials (initially as shrines, and later, as permanent structures), a strong impulse in traumatic moments is to scream and, afterwards, to speak. Indeed, every mourning moment invites the revival speech genres, particularly the eulogy. Consequently, the importance of speaking and speech at memorials and other places of mourning has been widely discussed among rhetoricians (e.g., Jamieson and Campbell). What has largely escaped discussion among rhetoricians are the ubiquitous "moments of silence" that punctuate eulogies. As a vestige of prayer in our increasingly inclusive social spaces, moments of silence are effective in eulogistic moments because of their en- thymematic invitations to the atheist and religious alike. As tokens of solemnity, I think that the emotional (and some might say spiritual) effectiveness of moments of silence also has something do with the sometimes inescapable experience of hearing voices in one's head during them. In contrived silence, whether one's consciousness is visited by one's own voice in prayer, or whether one continues to hear echoes of the speaker, one often experiences voices, or at the very least thoughts, that refuse to leave. Steven Conner terms these imagined, immaterial voices or thoughts "vocalic bodies":

The vocalic body is the idea—which can take the form of dream, fantasy, ideal,

theological doctrine, or hallucination—of a surrogate or secondary body, a projection of a new way of having or being a body, formed and sustained out of the autonomous

human beings find the experience of a sourceless sound

operations of the


/. Gunn

uncomfortable, and the experience of a sourceless voice

voice must be habited in a plausible body {Dumstruck 35; also see Conner, "Violence"


a disembodied

In other words, when we hear or experience voices without discernable origin, real or imagined, we either try to locate their source or mentally fashion bodies for them. For example, it is not uncommon to imagine a head and face for a radio announcer; hence our frequent astonishment when we discover the announcer looks nothing like we imagined. From a psychoanalytic vantage, this need to assign plausible bodies to disembodied voices is part of the repression of subjectification: these authentic ghosts remind us that we are radically alienated from the biological body, that we are, as subjects, barred from any reconciliation or harmony with "nature." Vocalic bodies, in other words, are imaginary structures akin to the imago, which protect us from remembering or realizing something we would rather not remember or realize. The real event of "hearing voices" in one's head helps to locate the imagocentricism animating the dichotomy between the archive and the repertoire. To be sure, spectacle remains an important part of ritual, and the need to create visible bandages like the memorial of light beams, particularly in the Age of the Image, is to be expected. Consequently, discussion about the cultural performance of Nine-eleven has tended to focus almost exclusively on imagery (e.g., the ethics of showing footage of people jumping from the doomed buildings). The archival impulse central to mourning is thus unquestionably imagocentric and representational, which is why Nine-eleven lends itself so easily to fetishization, from the accoutrements and knick-knacks of patriotism (commemorative ceramic firemen, US fiag Christmas lights) to the airing and re-airing of collapsing buildings on television news pro- grams, to the creation of monuments. Mournful haunting is achieved and resolved by means of spectatorship, and consequently, recovers from the trauma of melan- cholia by eclipsing sound with image, by succumbing to scription.^ The mourning performance, in other words, is seen, not heard.

Melancholic haunting, on the other hand, is more readily experienced as a sonorous phenomenon whereby the archive and the repertoire recycle acoustically, particularly in a manner that makes no distinction between the live and the reproduced. Speaking of the recorded voice in cinema, Kaja Silverman explains that the voice participates in:

that powerful Western episteme, extending from Plato to Helene Cixous, which identifies the voice with the proximity of here and now—of a metaphysical tradition

which defines speech as the very essence of

When the voice is identified

in this way with presence, it is given the imaginary power to place not only sounds by meaning in the here and now. In other words, it is understood as closing the gap between signifier and signified. {Acoustic Mirror 43)

This power underscores the irony of speech that both Lacan and Derrida intone:

"speech produces absence, not presence" (Silverman, Acoustic Mirror 43). Yet the "not here" of speech, rendered most obvious in the psychical replay of the vocalic body, paradoxically exceeds signification; it betokens a Real as the biological body, that element of speech Barthes identified as "the grain of the voice" (179-89; also see

Mourning Speech 103

Silverman, Acoustic Mirror 44). The "vococentrism" that Chion argues structures the acoustic field is thus explained by the way in which the biological body haunts speech as a "vocalic body," by the way in which the human voice seems more present to us than other sounds, ambient or instrumental. Consequently, the illusion of the collapse of the signifier and the signified achieved by the voice (the illusion, of course, is due to the fact that there is no signified) is homologous to the collapse of the archive and the repertoire. This is why the no-where of the disembodied voice heard in a darkened room is so haunting: we hear the Real body but cannot fix it. To understand better the psychical basis of speech in cultural performance, I turn to a practice common in the media coverage of Nine-eleven: the exploitation of spectral voices. Since September Uth, we have been encouraged to listen to terrified and grieving voices repeatedly in multiple, anniversary scenarios. In his 2002 State of the Union Address, for example. President Bush attempted to swell feelings of sadness and loss by presencing the Voice of Innocence in his own, manipulative brand of "oral interpretation." "For many Americans," the President said:

these four months have brought sorrow and pain that will never completely go away. Every day a retired firefighter returns to ground zero to feel closer to his two sons who died there. At a memorial in New York, a little boy left his football with a note for his lost father: "Dear Daddy, please take this to Heaven. I don't want to play football until I can play with you again someday." (2002 State of the Union par. 4; also see Gunn, "The Rhetoric of Exorcism" 1-23).

The invocation of a past voice is described as a present one in Bush's remarks, assuming that presencing is, in fact, what voices seem to do. The president's remarks betoken a mournful haunting because we assume the vocalic body of innocence finds its double in the Real; somewhere in the world the body of a boy who has lost his father lives on. If, however, the president had read the remarks of someone who had died, or if the president had played the panicked scream of a Nine-eleven victim captured on a recording—as others have done repeatedly—there would be the archival mark of the unmarked biological body, the impossible to mourn, the melancholic haunting of disembodied speech. A weird paradox occurs when one hears a voice of the presumed dead; that which announces "I am here" is paradoxically not (of course, the experience of the presence of voice is literally the announcement of absence—but we habitually repress that fact). Although hearing the recorded voice of someone who has died can be a comforting experience, as if the deceased were somehow still with us and archived for repeat visitations, it can also be a chilling experience, particularly if the voice is recognizably suffering, as when hearing the black-box recording of a plane that has crashed. In fact, the creepy effects caused by the paradox of spectral voices have been used time and time again by media outlets as an anxiety-stimulus for the ambivalent process of melancholic consumption. For example, among the outpouring of commemorative videos and DVDs, such as 9/11: The Filmmakers' Commemorative Edition, America 911: We Will Never Forget, CNN Tribute: America Remembers, In Memoriam: September 11, 2001, and Remember: September 11, 2001, many of which


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employ rousing music for emotional effect, WTC: The First 24 Hours makes the most unsettling use of voices because of the absence of narration or an instrumental soundtrack. In the opening two minutes, one is presented a letterboxed shot of a burning World Trade Center tower. The tower abruptly lowers and disappears into the bottom of the screen, and slowly the screen fills with billowing, white smoke. Most of the ambient noise is caused by small explosions, sirens, and the crumbling tower; however, one can distinctly hear shrill shrieks as the tower collapses. In his recent filmic polemic, Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore similarly exploits the spectral voice to harrowing effect. After a garrulous recounting of the 2000 presidential elections, the spectator is confronted abruptly with a black screen and a lengthy playback of the sounds of explosions and screams from "ground zero." One is not able to see the bodies from which these terrified voices emanate; mentally fashioning bodies for them, one must consider the possibility that they are presently dead ones.

What inspired me to write this essay was my own unsettling experience of Nine-eleven. Like Taylor, I found myself subject to the repetitive compulsions of melancholia as I watched television on the morning of September 11, 2001: watch, phone friend, eat, watch, phone friend, eat. Yet I also found it difficult to mourn in the months after, when the events became "Nine-eleven," the contemporary cultural performance of traumatic repetition compulsion par excellence. Thankfully, media coverage of the events of Nine-eleven becomes less compulsive as the years pass. Yet, it is important to revisit the way in which we mourned, if only because it reveals the centrality and subsequent repression of the human voice. Many of us remember the pictures, but have forgotten the speech. Consider the disturbing presentation of spectral voices on Thursday, October 4, 2001. Less than three weeks after real-time trauma. New York state authorities released a number of the recorded conversations of emergency personnel to the news media, presumably to demonstrate the courage and valor of America's many heroes. Every network station aired portions of these recordings in their morning and evening news programs. What follows is a transcription of the recorded voices that NBC chose to air on the Today Show.

MALE VOICE ONE: [in the background one hears the horrified screams of men and

women]. Help [unintelligible] is down! Get away from it! Get away from it! [silence]

VOICE TWO: [unintelligible] is down!

MALE VOICE ONE: [unintelligible] is down! Get away from it! [silence] Everybody move away from—[voice is muffled by something] [unintelligible] move away from the tower!

MALE VOICE TWO: [muffled] that's a

10-13, we gotta

FIRE DISPATCHER JOHN LIGHTSEY: That's a 10-4. We gotta second tower down.

MALE VOICE ONE: [muffled] [a woman screams in the background noise] Move away from the towers right now everybody, move away from the towers!

LIGHTSEY: We gotta female officer down in the second tower, possibly the third or

that's a 10-13.




the fourth floor. We're not sure though, they're conducting a search in regards to this female officer down.

It is difficult to describe with adjectives the timbre of these voices. The first male voice is screaming loudly, so much so that at times his radio cannot effectively transmit it. Whenever the first male voice speaks, one can hear terrified voices and numerous high-pitched screams of abject terror in the background. The conver- sation is full of pops and hisses, and the sound is flat and bass-less. After the first segment, NBC aired another:

CAPTAIN ALFREDO FUENTES: [unintelligible; voice is slurred and in obvious pain]


couple other members [unintelligible].

LIGHTSEY: Are you trapped Cap? [long silence with no answer]. Captain Fuentes, are you trapped?

FUENTES: 10-4 [radio squelches loudly].

beneath the collapsed unit. Ah, this is Captain Fuentes, a


LIGHTSLEY: Alright, we're sending you some help.

Finally, NBC aired a third segment:


need help.

MALE VOICE FOUR: [beep] We got possible members of the service down. Trinity and Cedar, Trinity and Cedar.

FEMALE VOICE ONE: [beep] Be advised we have units trapped in a train station. Park Place on the two and three line. Park Place two and three [beep] and we have officers trapped.

got an ambulance full of cops. And ah, pedestrians, that we

When heard, it is not difficult to describe the effect of these voices as haunting, precisely because of the kinds of vocalic bodies that we mentally conjure for some of them—bodies that are injured, bleeding, and on the verge of death. There is no mistaking the patriotic packaging that each of the major network and cable news channels used to frame these voices, cycling them from the unsettling liveness of the repertoire to the comfortably captured archive. NBC's Today Show devoted a lengthy segment to airing the recordings, with the corroborating narration of an emergency operator in the studio. The panicked voices were aired to the backdrop of a gray, gold and red montage of video images. The most stable video image was of a US flag slowly undulating as a backdrop for other video elements. In front of the flag a series of horrific images dissolved into one another: images of ashen people fleeing in horror dissolved into images of the second tower exploding, which predictably dissolved into images of smoldering rubble. Text clarifying the hurried and panicked voices appeared in the middle of the screen. In between interrupting narration by the operator and reporter in the Today Show studio, NBC aired more segments with the patriotic video elaboration over and over again. Clearly, the images fading into and out of the television screen were meant to vivify and concretize the veracity of terror and intensify an uncanny effect. But the primary


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sources of terror here are the disembodied voices, some of which we fear have long since been divorced from their actual bodies. The voices seem to herald a continuous doom in their excesses; something troubling looms in their grain. If we describe these horrified vocalic bodies as ghosts, the question remains: what is the hidden or forgotten element that causes a sense of fear and dread? One obvious answer is that these voices remind us of things we would like to repress, such as the fact that we will also eventually die. Another is that the voices communicate a sense of acoustic space in the echoes of their meeting with walls of rubble, a sense which shatters our profound and unrealistic fantasies about buildings "as a form of protection" and as "an insulation from danger" (Wigley 71). Another answer is that vocalic bodies of this sort are tokens of something that is unconscious and beyond our immediate grasp or control. In respect to the latter, one may begin to locate the cause of the uncanny effects by thinking about our own discomfort when hearing our own recorded voices. In their 1966 study of this common discomfort titled "The Voice as Percept" (Conner, Dumstruck 7-8, Philip S. Holzman and Clyde Rousey theorized that to some degree we dislike hearing our own recorded voice because it "has a very different sound quality from the voice we hear conducted through the bones of our skull" (in Conner, Dumbstruck 7-8). Yet, as Steven Conner recounts in his cultural history of the disembodied voice (that is, ventriloquism):

this difference in sound quality alone does not seem enough to account for what

Holzman and Rousey call the "complex confrontation experience" brought about by

the "loss of anchorage

[and] loss of the cathected familiar." [They suggested,

rather,] that this experience may result not so much from the unfamiliarity of the voice, as from its familiarity. {Dumbstruck 8)

The psychologists continue by speculating that many people are displeased by their own voices because, at some preconscious or unconscious level, we are forced to recognize that there are meanings communicated by our voices that disclose parts of the self that we wish to keep secret. In other words, our own voices threaten the return of the repressed.' Freud would suggest that the uncanny effect of terrified voices is premised on a similar kind of recognition and displeasure. Indeed, Freud defines the uncanny in general as a compulsive obsession with the traumatic, when obsession is defined as the simultaneity of a wish and counter-wish (again, that ambivalence of pleasure and pain typical of the experiences of the modern subject).'" According to Freud, the uncanny is an aesthetic phenomenon involving an event and a feeling. The event is the failure of repression, and the feeling is a variation of negativity (e.g., fright, horror, dread, and terror are variously used to denote the feeling). The failure of repression and the "uncanny effect" results when either a "primitive belief," which we have previously repressed, finds confirmation in experience, or when something familiar to us (including a feeling) that we have previously repressed recurs (Freud, "Uncanny" 130-46). For Freud, these failures fundamentally cue the castration anxiety experienced in childhood (and the parallels here to felled buildings and the wound left behind should be obvious). Whether or not one is swayed by Freud's




Oedipal analogy of sexual development is unimportant, however, because Freud's compelling discussion of the number of elements that cue the failure-event does not depend on an Oedipal logic. He is preoccupied with two failure-events in particular. First, an experience of doubling, such as a doppelganger or an unexpected mirror image, can invite terror (which Freud speculates is the double of feelings of unity before the ego separated itself from the world). Second, the "eternal recurrence" of the same—repetition of the same character traits in different people, or a recurrence of similar events (deja-vu)—can invite an uncanny effect (which Freud asserts reminds us of the instinctual compulsion to repeat). In light of Freud's theory of the uncanny, the spectral Nine-eleven voices have an uncanny effect in terms of their producing a double and their surfacing repressed, primitive beliefs. The doubles produced by the disembodied voices of terror are manifold: There is the recognition of a voice that is alive and the simultaneous knowledge its source is possibly dead; there is the recognition of our selves in the voice, the semiconscious doubling of identification itself. Furthermore, our re- pressed, primitive beliefs are characteristically religious, such as the idea that the spirits of dead bodies survive somehow in their recorded voices. Like a widower who will not erase the message on his answering machine because it replays the voice of his deceased spouse, these terrified voices both herald our deaths and subtly promise eternal life.

Hauntopics: The Cogito/Retum

of the Repressed

Whatever the ghostly thing, there is an abrasion in performance (the "rub"), some

interior resistance to the aboriginal romance of a pure libidinal flow. That is the real

It is exactly

what goes out of sight that we most desperately want to see. (Herbert Blau, Eye 173)

substance of the representational split which doubles over and

Or perhaps it is that which we cannot hear in silence that begs for the return of the

repressed, this Real that evades representation? What is this uncanny familiarity, this "rub" that Blau suggests haunts all performance, this ungraspable thing that would render all ghosts the interchangeable form of some substantive yet ever-elusive content? In this essay I attempted to provide a partial answer by urging us to close our eyes and attend to the ghost of speech. I have suggested that the abrasion of the Real is best captured by the grain of the voice, which can be experienced both as a comfort and a threat. Better than the examination of images, I argued that attending

to the object of speech helpfully isolates the performative dynamics of haunting as

a continual process of subjectification and repression. I argued that mournful

performances are hauntings of this elusive, impossible Real, which is most directly experienced in melancholic repetition, alternately described as the (temporary) collapse of the archive and repertoire. To illustrate these claims, I examined the spectral voices in media coverage of Nine-eleven as an ambivalent mourning performance: on the one hand, spectral voices were exploited to encourage the melancholy of economic consumption; on the other hand, these disembodied voices led (and are leading) many to a sense of psychical recovery. In bringing this essay


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to a close, there remains the task of trying to voice that which makes this conceptual apparatus go, to speak the Real that ghosts betoken but fail to represent, even in speech. Insofar as the Real is beyond symbolicity, the best one can do is to describe the repressed and returned objects of haunting that seem to index an impossible excess. I do so by describing the Real objects of haunting in respect to, first, the conceptual implications of my analysis for performance theory; and second, the political implications of my analysis for civic performance. In terms of performance theory, the phantasm of the vocalic body as a real ghost with material effects points us to the "real substance" of the representational doubling: the biological body. Of course, the Real of the biological body is obvious. Yet it is a complex obviousness for psychoanalysis, and also for the history of philosophy for that matter (Freud, "Some Elementary" 281-6). Phelan notes that psychoanalysis is fueled by the "anxiety raised by the gap between the discursive construct 'the body' and the affective experience of embodiment" (Unmarked 171). She also reminds us that mourning is a process of internalizing the discursive "lost other," principally as memory, as a means of coping with trauma. Consequently:

is the one we have and the history of the one's we've lost. Our

body is both internal and external; invisible and visible; sick and well; living and dead.

Noncontinuous, full of jerks and rears, the body moves, like an awkward dancer trying to partner someone she can never see or lay hold of. {Unmarked 172)

[o]ur "own" body

For this reason, performance is a mournful haunting in the sense that the

"performer's body" is used to "pose a question about the inability to secure the

relation between subjectivity and the body per se

what Phelan fails to acknowledge is that the subject's tacit identification with the "affective experience of embodiment" comprises a life long melancholia: from a Lacanian vantage, subjectivity is radically alien to the biological body (see Lacan, "Subversion"; van Haute). As its own mournful practice, performance studies is haunted by dualism. Hence a central irony of subjectification is that it comprises a life-long mourning for an unmediated and impossible harmonization. As the work of mourning, then, performance is haunted by the cogito as much as it is the Real of the biological body, by the philosopher mulling over a ball of wax and worried that he might, in fact, be dreaming (Descartes 75-80; also see Kubiak 34-46; Zizek, Cogito). In this respect, the repertoire is a repertory, always already an archive. Acknowledging what Gilbert Ryle termed the "ghost in the machine" is directly related, of course, to the so-called liveness debate between Phelan and Philip Auslander (Ryle 15-16). While in the "liveness" of performance it may seem as if the sense of embodied here-and-now-ness is closer to the Real, the sonorous cut of the disembodied voice recording can seem just as close (at least in practice). Indeed, in light of the history of mass media technologies, Auslander reminds us that, "like liveness itself, the desire for live experiences is a product of mediatization" (55). Although it would seem that this original mediatization has something to do with screens or the transmission of voices on air, a much earlier and individual doubling of the (acoustic) mirror is really to blame: a mother holds up the child to the looking

" (Unmarked 150-51). Even so,




glass, and the child says, loudly, jubilantly, and erroneously, "that's me!" (Lacan, "Mirror" 1-7). In echoes of that fateful moment of our first death (entry into the Symbolic), in living from here to that final, second death, we repress the voice that ceaselessly intones that we can never coincide with ourselves—that we are, in fact, subjects barred from "nature." In other words, one might say, "Descartes lives!" Insofar as we are trapped in a centuries-old problematic, this obsession with body trouble, liveness, and performance will continue to haunt. Exorcism is futile. What, then, are the political implications of haunting for civic performance? What object or deed does the ghosting of speech and the haunting by voice implicate? If the exploitation of the spectral voices of Nine-eleven provides any clue, the pleasures and displeasures of reliving and forgetting vocalic trauma must be surfacing and repressing something more than bodily alienation or the fear of death. The answer to these and similar questions is locatable in the perverse familiarity of Nine-eleven. Like media coverage of the Challenger and Columbia explosions, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Columbine High School shootings, the mourning of Nine-eleven is an obvious rehearsal of melancholic practices, a hauntopia for the audience to reaffirm what Robert Bellah has described as civil religiosity, a kind of religious patriotism whereby one places "faith" in a transcendent ideal of progress and unity. This religion is most commonly experienced, of course, as a kind of patriotism whereby piety is equated with the purchase of automobiles (General Motors adver- tisements continuously urged us to "keep America rolling"), and publics are led to reinvest in the values of the mythic "American Heartland" (Johnson 57-75; also see Blau, Audience 124)." Taken together, the simultaneity of these religious and economic logics means that these images and sounds of catastrophe are involved in the creation of what Renee Bergland calls an "American Mind" or an idealized "American Subject," which continually recreates itself by simultaneously reliving and repressing trauma in collective performativity.'^ The haunting of Nine-eleven is an invitation to experience, again and again, what it is "to be an American."

Insofar as the "American" Subject refers to the collective performativity of reliving and repressing trauma in the production of mass identity, it is not surprising that Nine-eleven is evoked repeatedly by politicians and commentators in the service of a civil pedagogy that insists "we Americans" have changed radically—usually for the better—from what we were before September 11, 2001. For example. Presidential hopeful John Kerry recently remarked that "the world tonight is very different from the world of four years ago," and urged his audience to relive the trauma:

Remember the hours after September 11th, when we came together as one to answer the attack against our homeland. We drew strength when our firefighters ran up stairs and risked their lives, so that others might live. When rescuers rushed into smoke and fire at the Pentagon. When the men and women of Flight 93 sacrificed themselves to save our nation's Capitol. When flags were hanging from front porches all across America, and strangers became friends. It was the worst day we have ever seen, but it brought out the best in all of us. (paras. 32-3)

Yet Bergland would argue that bringing "out the best in all of us" requires us to

repress or willingly forget our worst. In her book The National

Uncanny, Bergland


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argues that Indian ghosts, such as those in the James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans, represent the simultaneous wish to destroy the racial other and unite with them in miscegenetic bliss. Ultimately, the repression fueling an uncanny experience with Indian ghosts is the historical event of Indian removal, the literal spectralization of American natives (also see Derrida 77-94). In this respect the repressed objects of performance and politics are yoked: the unbridgeable, imposs- ible gap between the biological body and conscious experience, between being and thought, is the fundamental, ontological alienation that makes it possible to blow the Other to smithereens (cf. Fenske).'^ The many ghosts of Nine-eleven must be an encounter and an amnesia to the largest specter haunting the United States—a ghost that drives any wartime economy as much as it does a wartime politics. To name what is mistaken as the ineffable in so many memorialized moments of silence, this specter is unquestionably a result of US sponsored violence, the muffled scream of a body that wants not only to survive, but, impossibly, to (be a-)live.


[1] The most famous critical use of the idiom of haunting is Jacques Derrida's Specters of Marx, in which the author describes history as "repeating itself with respect to our neurotic fascination with elements of the past. Marx's many "ghosts" are read by Derrida to activate

a spirit of hope that does not succumb to gross positivistic materialism on the one hand and

a dogmatic utopics on the other. For an excellent blend of Derridian hauntology and

performance theory, see Kuftinec. [2] Of course, film scholarship, particularly that of spectator theory, as well as the theories of audience in rhetorical studies, suggests otherwise. [3] In fact, I find the suggestion that performance scholars adopt positivistic (and, in the end, behavioristic) measures not only misguided, but also dangerously instrumental. As I explain below, because I understand artful or deliberate performance as an attempt to dance around and exploit what Peggy Phelan terms the "unmarked," measuring "effectivity" destroys possibility/hope by fixing the protean into a discernable shape: the number.

[4] "Gongora" is a reference to Luis de Gongora, a sixteenth-century Spanish poet known for his intentionally complex and difficult writing style, which apparently invited the contempt of many of his contemporaries. Imitators of this style helped to create the label "gongorismo" or "Gongorism" as a style of convoluted writing. [5] My understanding of "audience" here is somewhat similar to Michael Warner's description of a "public" (see Warner 65-124). [6] In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, it is important to note that Freud connects repetition with the death drive, the push or force of the psyche toward dismantling and destruction. Both the life drive (eros) and the death drive {thanatos) never exist in a pure state, however, and are always in some sense commingled. [7] Alternately, one could describe mourning as "witnessing." The ambivalence of the archival impulse and the repertoire of compulsive obsession have some important parallels to what Kelly Oliver describes as the "necessity and impossibility of witnessing" (85-106). [8] Although Taylor stresses that they do not comprise a binary, she recognizes that the relationship between the archive and the repertoire easily collapses into one, "with the written and archival constituting the hegemonic power and the repertoire providing the

hegemonic challenge" (22). Images lend themselves

course, "seeing is believing," and visibility helps to stabilize and fix the uncertain and the unmarked. In order to resist the hegemony of the archival/visible, Taylor urges a centering

more easily to the archival because, of

Mourning Speech


in the repertoire and "revalorizing expressive, embodied culture" (16). Even though she aligns speech with the power of the repertoire, Taylor recommends the study of the highly imagistic "scenario" as something that better mediates the archive and repertoire in scholarly performance (27-33). But why not the object of speech itself? Why not the human voice? If vocalic bodies, literally the ghosts of speech, are real and can be "played back" for emotive effect (as I am doing right now, hearing my mother say "I love you"), then the tidy distinctions between the archival and the repertory, the recorded and the lived, indeed, the contexts of performance and reflection, are difficult to maintain (at least in theory). [9] This is why those "experts" who warned concerned parents about "backward masking" on heavy metal records in the 1980s were so believable: human utterance as such communicates. William S. Burroughs made a literary career out of this message. His remixes on the page were the products of the famous "cut-up" method of textual invention dreamed up by Brion Gyson, which Burroughs believed helped to convey unconscious messages. At a lecture given by Burroughs to the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in 1976, Burroughs explained how Gyson's method of cutting up newspaper articles and rearranging the words into new sentences gradually evolved into his spoken-word and sound "tape-loop" experiments with Ian Sommerville in the 1960s. Unlike textual cut-ups, the audio cut-ups seemed to tap into the unconscious repertoire with a strong sense of immediacy. When working with tape—at that time, magnetic, reel-to-reel tape—Burroughs would play the tape backwards or forwards and then randomly splice in another bit of tape. This method, he argued, relied on an unconscious knowledge of where to splice, which explained their resulting "coherence" as an artful expression. "Cut ups put you in touch with what you know and what you do not know you know," he argued (Burroughs, "Origin" Track 3). [10] This is a crude sketch of obsession, admittedly. See the theoretical discussion of the case of the so-called "Rat Man" (Freud, Three 58-81). [11] The term "hauntopia" is Hamera's (66). [12] Or put alternately, these images and sounds of catastrophe in perpetual recurrence mark the outline of what Fredric Jameson has termed the political unconscious, a collective mind or subject to which we are all subjected, a collective consciousness that fuses language, social institutions, bodily pleasures, and market economies into a series of psychological norms (Jameson; also see Schwab). [13] Recognizing the alienation of subjectification obviously points to important ethical issues. Mindy Fenske's recent essay, "The Aesthetic of the Unfinished: Ethics and Performance," identifies a problematic "material/virtual" dialectic haunting performance theory and cultural and theatrical practice (which I suggest is a consequence of subjectification). She argues that the replication of such a binary tends to close down on one side or the other, thereby finalizing performance in a kind of unanswerable and unresponsible autonomy that, in turn, closes down dialogic encounter and negates life, or what Bakhtin terms "Being." From a Lacanian vantage, this dialectic is none other than that of the "master and slave," or a relational dynamic in which there is a struggle for recognition (see Evans 105-6). Reckoning with the fact that desire is, in some sense, the longing for recognition, Fenske's warning should be taken very seriously. For example, the central practice of "giving voice" and recognition to "the audience" in interactive performance practices such as Playback Theatre might be understood as producing the opposite of PTs dialogical, community-building aims, insofar as it is possible for actors to exploit the suffering of an audience member in order to produce a finalized aesthetic object (a performed life story). Such performances are therapeutic and mournful precisely because they are unanswerable, precisely because trau- matic experience gets archived in them. Unquestionably, many audience members enjoy such recognition and feel better after such a performance. Yet, we need to question the improvised reproducer of a borrowed life: is s/he assuming the function of Master, demanding a surplus from the audience to be fetishized for his or her own recognition?


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Bush, George W. 2002 State of the Union Address. United States Capitol Building, Washington,

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