Friday, March 30, 2007

The listener's inner body is illuminated...

The listener's inner body is illuminated, opened: a singer doesn't expose her own throat, she exposes the listener's interior. Her voice enters me, makes me a "me," an interior, by the fact that I have been entered. The singer, through osmosis, passes through the self's porous membrane, and discredits the fiction that bodies are separate, boundaried packages. The singer destroys the division between her body and our own, for her sound enters our system. I am sitting at the Met at Leontyne Price's recital in 1985 and Price's vibrations are *inside my body*, dressing it up with the accoutrements of interiority. Am I listening to Leontyne Price, or am I incorporating her, swallowing her, memorizing her? She becomes part of my brain. And I begin to believe--sheer illusion!-- that she spins out of *my* self, not hers, as Walt Whitman, Ancient-of-Days opera queen, implied when he apostrophized a singer in "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking": "O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me, / O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you. . . ."

I follow a singer toward her climax, I will it to happen, and feel myself "made" when she attains her note.
~ from Wayne Koestenbaum's *The Queen's Throat*

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