Lecture delivered at Jan van Eyck Academie, Jan 2010
image / text index

A Short Note on Metrical Transcription

i am talking now
in a counterpoint to another speech
arranged as lines
i am talking
through a metrical order
this is a talk about how to write

while listening to another’s voice
on the way to talking about some recent experiments
(i am talking as a graphic designer)
experiments with transcription
with the encounter
the formal can arrange within the discursive

i find too a chance
to develop a semantic and aleatory formula for constructing a thought
in the gaps of
from the material of
from the gaps

in the material of another’s speech
my research began
last year my intention
was to make procedures for indexing public speech
to index everything that said
to assemble a machine

a machine to read through
to index and disassemble
a stable archive of speech
a body of speech automatically transcribed by a computer
but a technical failure occurred at the very beginning
the computer’s conversion of speech to text produced on most occasions

either nonsense or silence
the computer’s transcription failed
precisely because of the polyphonic conditions
the non-standard intensities
of the vocalized international english of the academie
the machine stumbled on the voice

in the advent of this failure
my attention was forced to the site of the input
to the material of the voice as it can be made into a text
as the copyist of a rapidly growing audio archive
of talk after talk
i had to discover a way

to quickly produce a text from another’s speech
under duress
under a coercion
acting under the constraint of my design problem
in circumstances where urgency demanded
destroying the stages of problem-solving progression

i chanced upon a technique for doing this work
i’m calling this technique
metrical transcription
metrical transcription is a technique for producing a text
while someone is speaking
the technique is founded in a cut

in the cut made in copying the words of a speaking voice
it is the binding of the voice
to a mnemonic segment
to what set of words can be remembered together
it’s therefore a variable measure
but still

a line a verse
a chain
the interval is non regular
it is what could be called a non rhythmic meter
or it is a rhythm not measured by quality or quantity of sound
but by something else

by the attention under constraint
the axiom
from which the technique of metrical transcription proceeds
the time of the transcription is equal to the time of the transcribed
the transcription can only take place

within the time of the speech
the speech cannot be paused
it is copied exactly in the time it is spoken
the line is cut at the end of what can be remembered together
it is in this cut of the attention
as line follows line

that something else appears between them
another intention: an effect of the concatenation
the metrical procedure
is first and always as transcription
a literal adherence
a fidelity to what is spoken

to what is spoken
without the support of writing
to improvised speech
it is a submission to the dictation
of the spontaneous flight of thought

every word that is copied is literally the word of the speaker
under this constraint
i (and others)
have produced a set of , lines
for the year
the unabridged edition of this incomplete concordance

will be offered to libraries
to the future philologists and exegetes
the analysts
of what was spoken here
in the metrical cut of these lines
every asemantic element disappears

there is no punctuation in speaking
only words
and sounds
but sounds for now are another story
when a machine hears a voice speaking
the machine is the irresistible figure for this activity

when the machine copies as words the sounds of the voice
it cannot add a comma or quotation mark
it cannot add a question mark
and it cannot add the word cough or the word laughter
there are no stage directions no punctuation
no orthographic variation in the transcriptions

words too are left out
in the exacting metrical cut
more speech disappears
than is written
the writing is always a technique of reduction
an elimination

a push to sobriety
a question is
the technique opens the question
what fastens the words together
what minimally constructs them
as a chain

why do some words rather than others appear
and stick together in this writing-while-listening?
the computer failed to produce sense from speaking
but the full the complete conversion of speech to text
even in the most human
in the most non-automated transcription practice

is never self-evident
any transcription is founded in an impossibility
at the most molecular scale
take for instance the unprinted space between words
in the regular blank spaces of writing and printing
even the most accurate transcription

with a conventional alphabet
can’t register speech’s uneven movements between words
the pauses and slurs
the everyday rubato
as john cage has called it
is rendered in the relatively fixed unit of the typographic space

just as sounds are rendered
in the fixed units of letters
which constitute a separate order
which emil ruder
eloquent and terse ideologue of modernist typography

as that which can be cast as often as necessary
as that which always goes on being repeated
in a precise and invariable form
there is a cool and fascinating beauty about printed letterforms
he says
they are free from the alien borrowings

of speech
the radical incommensurability of speech sound and letter form
which is declared in this procedure
opens an entirely other logic of signification
these experiments will return their precisions to the exigencies of speaking

the copyist must always make a mark
an interpretation
from the point of this failure
from the incommensurability of these orders
must coldly formalize speech as type
and to make speech into prose

into periods of sense
the copyist must go further
and add and switch the letterforms
must punctuate and even italicize
speech into sense
an experiment

to intervene before this normalization
metrical transcription is an ascetic technique
it is a training of the attention through constraint
through the most minimal procedure of writing
the moment of transcription is the dangerous moment
derrida writes in another context

the copyist is always tempted to add supplementary signs
to improve the restitution of the original
the good copyist must resist the temptation of the supplementary sign
it is a surprisingly difficult task to hear and copy the word exactly
when listening to improvised speech
without a supplement

to not correct to not fill in
what wasn’t said
but expected
to not punctuate
to not ignore the stuttering and anticipation
the slips of spontaneous speech

a strange effect of this training is the obviation
even the prohibition
of the necessity to understand what is being spoken
it’s actually a relief
there is a relief of the necessity to understand
we’d have a much better track

gene hackman’s character admonishes his assistant
in the conversation
if you’d paid more attention to the recording
and less to what they were talking about
the big picture of what is being spoken must recede
in order for the writing to take place

the drift of the meaning
the drive of the argument is lost
in the granularity of the speech
in the sound of the voice and the molecular sense of the words
i want to say too
it’s not just spoken language

in the argument of this procedure
its errancies its stuttering
its vernacular
that is being privileged at the expense of writing
it is rather the curious
and always deadpan

the cold interpolation of speaking into an alphabet
the acousmatic effect of the speaking voice
in its registration as letterforms
which opens a new resonance for discourse as such
A so-called faithful transcription always presupposes specific knowledge
what is being talked about

what is the name that was said
what language is being spoken
is that a citation
speaking blurs the word
there is never in the first place a stable or differentiated corpus of speaking
homophonies for instance abound

is that the word here or the word hear
affect or effect
err or air
or heir
and there is a lexical territorialization proper to any discourse
the transcriber who already knows it

can more faithfully record the meaning of the speech
but what happens when we surprise the discursive field of the voice
as an outsider
as an interested outsider
in words used to describe ray johnson
as an outsider with a will to respeak

but with nothing perhaps to say
what is captured from this position
when the quarry is not the meaning but the vocabulary
the word the phrase
the atomized materials of meaningful speech
in the writing of the naive transcriber

what sense shows through the metrical protocol
what semantic atmosphere is produced in the procedure?
how can this partial record
all the successive vibrations
the bits of speech
which the listener the subject

the subject of a listening
articulates within the expansions of the voice’s sonority
how can these disconnected lines
the transcription
be sutured again
into what kind of sense

what procedure what punctuation
what is a logic to produce a rewriting
what will could connect them
for today i want to re-present the lines of the transcription
i want to reproduce them to condense them
as a new catena

as chains of commentary
to digest the transcription and reconstitute it
this is a first essay
how can it be rewritten?
it is submitted to a precise aleatory and semantic recombination
i want to put the lines into stanzas

into six line stanzas
as if they might begin to behave as a sort of sestina
that most programmatic of poetic structures
but a sestina that links
not to itself but to another text
a text outside it

this one
the one i’m speaking
suddenly when you are talking now
would there be a counter another note
as a loss
you’re just talking
in chronological order
the question is how to read this

i just stopped listening
turn it around would be another way
let’s not talk about structures
you really truly deal with life
i was somehow surprised with the word wounds
within that repetition itself

he completely misses the chance
constructing that moment of militant composition
in fact it does create this gap
crude materialist position
stupid speechless enjoyments
opens in a gap

this is another effect i am causing here
it’s very hard to get research money with that thesis
this year
of his public
he says it explicitly
we can also read it together

as a machine through you
on index cards
it’s a virtual unstable diagram
i never said there was no such thing as the body
when that fails
most of the people are there

this echoed pretty well the silence
love is always going to fail
because we’re all going to die
there is a certain standard
a nice word play in english
we copied it on a photocopy machine

that fails
one is always forced to think
purely material
do you expect me to make photocopies
this is two weeks after the coup
if i had to be honest

you want to produce another effect
begin under the condition of finitude
it’s underlined
where there should be nothing
is it staging itself
there should be potentialities

technically it means nothing
thats called target
a change
the text is not strategic
there is someone who takes your place
we tried to cut it and fold it together

the words he’s just been uttering
voice and person
between the segmentarity
the set that contains itself and not itself
therefore we shouldn’t organize
inept talk still has political value

if i draw a line
in order to get into the signifying chain
it is
i don’t claim to be certain it is what it is
some sounds they couldn’t find
an absence there to remind us of something else

it’s not just a path taken by the mind
a lure
from which you can look at yourself in the mirror
what he says is
at the same time
someone who takes your place

the scene within the scene is
the pauses are equally suspicious
it’s more outspoken
to bring it together
but we never follow them

resistance appears when you see this double
it is an effect of that
instead of saying power is a set of procedures
we are always confronted with a double
this literally enchanted discourse
is subtracted from

what is outside the diagram
especially if the file is also digital
without the name of the father
he partially read and partially improvised
in a way it is a fold
the other side is not spontaneous

everyone misunderstands me
what we must not understand
others are
you have the feeling you run through the set
this year how does it work
that thing which makes the world incomplete

what you offer to the other is your own desire
the future son-in-law
there are analysts simply sitting there and weaving
at the same time there is precisely here
this moment where i disappear

i have two surfaces but no thickness
the king is the ear
only after the act
so far
hears whose meaning it is
it is resistance itself

what is interesting about the machine
before you quoted
marks a kill
i was laughing for obvious reasons
in both directions
last great variation

language too
and also perhaps the cut in film
as a disappearance
the hand that takes must always give back
cuts directly in the interior

his territory of references
so the question of
opens in a gap
with a special emphasis on the words
we are inside the construction
as a means of crossing several borders

the words return
i tried to stick with the text
it fails cuz it loses a capacity
this is completely unclear
the latency of the human being is protocommunist
the most basic font which is futura bold

you never coincide with yourself
it’s impossible for me to walk
the most beautiful of fantasy
what proust said for instance
it’s blank at the moment
even occupy that same place

arabic alphabet
that is a movement of the text i feel strongly about
the pauses are equally suspicious
i can’t be here everyday
you can isolate this a priori scheme
you fix it

just as statements are curves
the letters there are not themselves statements
that order in which i live
i came back again
and not the other way around
defined by the question it asks

is it necessary to posit some anterior point
and then he goes on
one couldn’t be more precise
make it harder or cooler
when he says it is not there
free created activity

of course
the heir of that radical break
which is not a thing
it’s opening and reopening in that
as i hear you speaking
this is how the story ends

must always give
there are a curious series of misinterpretations
i speak from the point of view of science
each of these hunters
must know a rupture
to make a long story short

of what is this what connects
where they seem further apart
switch from slide to input
to which we must
the emphasis is on the speech apparatus
you’re an animal

normal objects nouns
of techniques
infinite transformation of training
minimally hindered
there he’s trying to pinpoint the moment
i was thinking another thing

adds up the real
concrete network including all the original terms
resist this sort of making something
what you hear comes from within you
lets not listen
i never start working without knowing what it is

correct reading
you look back at what you said
do you expect me to make photocopies
i don’t want to not be able to arrange something
the stuttering
the slipping in formulations

it’s really strange the way it looks
even the recognition
that’s what i think i understand
thats actually what happens in fantasy
there is a thinking and it goes back
even better

we don’t talk backwards
in the english translation
if you’re just doomed to use the fabulation
maybe this is what we were talking about
the entire picture is so super rough
no affect can take place

and drifts away from them
i can see how language is not mine
it belongs to the order of the drive
of being scripted
lets go and see what the workers were saying
you’re meant to just race past

then you had the argument
this is one of the crucial phrases here
its not the wolf
that is not the job
it is only at that moment
always a witnessing of the fantasmatic scenario

the alphabet changed 4 times
all the voices
surpasses the register of
a people who had no visibility as such
somebody speaks and i presuppose
then you can talk about the void

there’s a guy i forgot his name
could language itself be that stage
is that a real position
a virtual unstable diagram
totally bound back to the representational surface

the white wall here
topology or logics
a kind of militant group or kernel
or one is simply given
there is a moment you get lost
that already exists

the recording which takes its course somehow
my words catch me by surprise
this is somehow the outside
i’m interested in this concept of living labor
this moment i think that this is the moment
and the outside

but nothing has changed with that
there is capture
his vocabulary takes you in one direction
let’s say a phrase
the material being produced by the patient
in this way he is not so naive

shows you
he was the one who inspired a bit the atmosphere
object a
he talks a bit about this on one page
he says listen

lets not listen
instead of continual expansion
how can you say
you start writing knots
something really basic again
revealed in a kind of anchoring of her own practice

what never took place
only here to reproduce
of the points
the line of resistance and the line of actualization
only here to reproduce
there was this really really new quality

one other comment
in the naming of the event
of all
can it be delineated
all the voices are submitted
theres a whole question i want to raise with you

every six weeks
as if by contagion and by mime
you just need to understand the structure
immanence only to itself
the cause of the outside

we are the ones organizing this
on the one hand