To simultaneously emancipate the ear and the mouth is a great accomplishment. To do so with care and love a gift. Lexicon of the Mouth offers erudite ruckus, expansive erotics, destabilizing poetics, liberatory politics. By revealing how 'the drama of the mouth' is greater than that of the word, Brandon LaBelle opens new horizons for performance, music, and the sound arts. Allen S. Weiss, Performance Studies and Cinema Studies, New York University, and author of Phantasmic Radio (1995), Breathless (2002), and Varieties of Audio Mimesis (2008) Tuning his ear to the poetics and politics of the mouth, Brandon LaBelle makes a highly original and significant contribution to our understandings of voice in its various modalities and performativities. This is a breathtaking transdisciplinary accomplishment, beautifully written and deeply scholarly; it deftly re-focuses our attention on the multiform assemblages of the mouth -- from the individual to the inter-subjective, from the social to the political, from the bodily interior to public spaces -- and thus evokes a vital new cartography of auditory culture. Norie Neumark, Professor and Chair in Media Studies, Director of the Centre for Creative Arts, La Trobe University, Australia
Lexicon of the Mouth
surveys the oral cavity as the central channel by which self and surrounding are brought into relation. Questions of embodiment and agency, attachment and loss, incorporation and hunger, locution and the non-sensical are critically examined. In doing so, LaBelle emphasizes the mouth as a vital conduit for negotiating "the foundational narrative of proper speech." Lexicon of the Mouth
aims for a viscous, poetic and resonant discourse of subjectivity, detailed through the "micro-oralities" of laughing and whispering, stuttering and reciting, eating and kissing, among others. The oral cavity is posed as an impressionable arena, susceptible to all types of material input, contamination and intervention, while also enabling powerful forms of resistance, attachment and conversation, as well as radical imagination.
Lexicon of the Mouth
argues for the revolutionary promise of the laugh, the spirited mythologies of the whisper, the schizophonics of self-talk, and the primal noise of gibberish, suggesting that the significance of voicing is fundamentally bound to the exertions of the mouth. Subsequently, assumptions around voice and vocality are unsettled in favor of an epistemology of the oral, highlighting the acts of the tongue, the lips and the throat as primary mediations between interior and exterior, social structures and embodied expressions. LaBelle makes a significant contribution to currents in sound and voice studies by reminding that to hear the voice, and to consider a politics of speech, is first and foremost to assume the mouth.