A voice of her own? Echo’s own echo

Continental Philosophy Review 48 (1):59-75 (2015)

Lisa Käll
Stockholm University
This article approaches Ovid’s story of Echo and Narcissus in the Metamorphoses through some of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s writings on expression and speech. Echo’s speech as portrayed by Ovid clearly illustrates how Merleau-Ponty describes speech in Phenomenology of Perception as a “paradoxical operation” through which we use words with already given sense and in that very process both stabilize and alter established meaning. Instead of reducing Echo to a moment of the identity and fate of Narcissus, I bring out Echo’s own voice and the expression of her subjectivity through creative repetition. The short dialogue between Echo and Narcissus makes manifest that Echo’s words cannot be reduced to a simple repetition of a clear and distinct original. Rather, her speech emerges in relation to an original that is only made present as an original of a repetition in that very repetition. Echo’s voice is disruption of the words she repeats and each repetition is also its own origin. Echo’s own voice is only made present when we listen to it as something other than a simple repetition of the voice of Narcissus. The fragments she returns through her echo, lose their fragmented character through modifying and altering their already given meaning. What Echo lacks is not primarily a voice of her own but rather an unbound origin which by itself remains mute and thereby runs the risk of not expressing anything at all. Echo is repetition but it is precisely as repetition that she is also originating speech
Keywords Merleau-Ponty  Echo  Ovid  Repetition  Voice  Expression
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-014-9317-x
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References found in this work BETA

The Inoperative Community.Jean-Luc Nancy - 1991 - University of Minnesota Press.
The Prose of the World.Maurice Merleau-Ponty - 1973 - Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

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