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ソルジェニーツィン『煉獄のなかで』における声 : 言語秩序と「身体」をめぐって

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Title: ソルジェニーツィン『煉獄のなかで』における声 : 言語秩序と「身体」をめぐって
Other Titles: Voice in A. Solzhenitsyn's Novel The First Circle : On Language Order and the "Body"
Authors: 平松, 潤奈1 Browse this author
Authors(alt): Hiramatsu, Junna1
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: 北海道大学スラブ研究センター
Journal Title: スラヴ研究
Journal Title(alt): Slavic Studies
Volume: 51
Start Page: 321
End Page: 353
Abstract: From the period of perestroika, there has been an argument in the criticism of Soviet culture that the Stalinist culture suppressed the representation of the body, which is irreducible to the canonical language. In this body/language opposition, the body is seen as deviation, excess or something antagonistic to the social and language order. But it is not appropriate to think that the body can be represented outside of and autonomous from language because, taking this assumption and regarding the body as something that needs release from the yoke of the language order, we only repeat the same scheme of such sayings that the body must be suppressed by language. The body should, therefore, be seen as that formed in the practice of language. In this light, dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's text appears to tell how the body is formed in the language activity and treated by the language order. His text does not take the body/language opposition for granted, but probes the mechanism which this opposition stands on. Solzhenitsyn's novel, The First Circle, describes the process of the formation of the body far more clearly and elaborately than in any other of his writings. The central motif of the novel is voice-hearing, which inevitably raises the question of the relation of language and body. That is because, on one hand, voice carries linguistic messages, but on the other, it is a part of the human body. Voice separates from the body and goes through various media (recorder, telephone, radio etc.), but in this process it does not seem to lose the trace of the body in the form of its materiality, such as frequency and amplitude. This duality of voice plays a decisive role in The First Circle. In the beginning of the story, Innokentii Volodin, a young diplomat, calls the embassy of the United States in Moscow and reveals that a Soviet agent will receive information about the manufacturing of an atomic bomb. His conversation is tapped and recorded, and the Ministry of State Security (MGB) commits the tape to a special prison-institute commonly called a sharashka, where confined scientists and engineers are working for the benefit of the government. Gleb Nerzhin, a mathematician, and Lev Rubin, a linguist, are ordered to analyze the tape and identify the criminal among five suspects. The novel depicts in detail the process of voice analysis, which is to be examined concretely in this paper. Previous studies on Solzhenitsyn's novels have not read these technology motifs in their literal meaning. If attention is paid to descriptions of technology, they tend to concentrate on metaphorical and ideological interpretations of them (the telephone network stands for the bureaucratic system of the socialist state, for instance) and ignore the material and practical aspect of them. Solzhenitsyn himself lived in a sharashka for three years, and the model of Nerzhin is the author. He compared the sharashka to "the first circle" (borrowed from Dante's The Divine Comedy), which is the most privileged place among the concentration camps. There, prisoners were exempted from hard labor and even enjoyed freedom of speech, unthinkable in the outside society. Their work was directly connected with the benefit of the state, and significant contribution sometimes freed them. Many technical experts imprisoned in the sharashka, however, belonged to the generations before the Revolution, and a part of them were anti-Stalinist sympathizers. What sustained this inclination was their assurance of the autonomy of "techno-elite," but in fact their life depended on the technological innovation which they devised for the regime. In other words, the channels of their voices are strictly controlled, but at the same time their technology regulates the conditions on how voices are transmitted. Located in this ambiguous position of sharashka, the prisoners in The First Circle are confronted with difficult ethical questions to decide one after another. The depiction of the analysis of Volodin's voice is based on a true story Solzhenitsyn experienced in the sharashka and that Rubin's model Lev Kopelev wrote a detailed memoir about. By the time they take up Volodin's case, the prisoners have been engaged in the development of a scrambler phone that can protect Stalin's telephone conversation from being tapped by encoding and decoding human voices. The decoded voice must be identifiable with the speaker as well as being clearly heard. Looking back to the duality of voice mentioned above, clarity of voice (what one is saying) is related to its linguistic aspect, while identification (who is speaking) to its materiality or body. The latter is considered more complicated than the former, and what is necessary for the analysis of Volodin's voice is the latter (who is the criminal). To develop this special apparatus, Nerzhin (Solzhenitsyn) and Rubin (Kopelev) used a device called "visible speech," the prototype of today's sound spectrograph. It gives voiceprints which records frequency and energy of voices according to time. Rubin thinks their patterns differ from person to person, so he can identify the criminal by comparing the voiceprints of given tapes. But, in fact, voiceprint does not reveal the owner of the voice by itself. It only transcribes the materiality (body) of voice, which is unique and unrepeatable every time. To identify the owner, one must find some distinct features of his voice, always unchangeable. Rubin (Kopelev) has inmates and staff in the sharashka read the same words and syllables in various ways, but, as he confessed, Kopelev could not discover such features. What is important here is that the identity of voice is sought by articulating its materiality (voiceprints) linguistically (by particular words and syllables). In The First Circle, through voice analysis, Rubin focuses his attention on two suspects, Volodin and Shchevronok, and he tells his boss that Shchevronok is more suspicious. But that is a mistake. His boss reports to a MGB official about two suspects, requiring more data, but the official rejects the request and announces that he will arrest both. Here the strict examination of voice properties turns to absurdity. We might wonder, with all of the complicated investigation, which Rubin is forced to work on, why the author lets Rubin make a mistake and for the authorities to arrest an innocent man. Before answering this question, we should reexamine the special nature of Volodin's case -- a crime on the telephone line. As it was already seen, voice has two aspects; it is regarded as a trace of the body (and this trace also has materiality) and a carrier of language simultaneously. This duality of voice makes Volodin's case very unique. On one hand, his voice transmits linguistic message, which is recognized as a crime in the social order. On the other hand, his voice is the criminal act itself. It means that the language order and the bodily act are connected directly in his voice. Usually, bodily acts, occurring in particular time and space, are unrepeatable. But Volodin's recorded voice makes it repeatable. Through the process of voice analysis, the repeatable body (materiality) of voice is articulated to the language order and identified with its owner. In this sense, the identifiable body of the criminal is formed in the practice of the language order. We may think that Rubin's mistake shows the imperfection of this articulation system: he could not tell the difference between two men's voices. This imperfection, however, is necessary to the order. Stalin in the novel suspects that 5 to 8 percent of the people in the state are not content with the present regime although they vote for it in elections. Stalin asserts that the MGB can exist only because there are always hidden enemies in the society. His suspicion keeps on creating newly imagined enemies, who do not appear in elections, that is, who are not articulated to the language order (election has the simplest linguistic form -- yes or no). This supposed percentage of hidden enemies can be seen here as corresponding to the percentage Rubin mistakes. For Rubin's identification process is accompanied with the possibility of misidentification, and this misidentification (the imperfection of articulation) produces the hidden body of enemies behind the language order. Thus, the imperfection of the articulation technology makes the language order produce suppressible body. The voice analysis depicted in the novel shows the process of how the deviant body is produced, identified and oppressed in the regulation of social and linguistic order. Along with Rubin's voice analysis, the novel presents a different kind of voice-hearing. Nerzhin is said to have "strange hearing," with which he has been able to hear suppressed people moaning and shrieking since his childhood. This voice reaches him without going through any material medium -- newspaper, radio, or telephone. He does not trust them at all. Volodin's voice is carried by the telephone line and analyzed by the device of visible speech, by which, as a result, he is arrested. Adding to such media technologies, one more medium participates in voice analysis -- the body of the analyzer (Rubin); the clarity of decoded voice is examined by his ears, one of which is deaf, a fact which Rubin hides from people around him. Furthermore, when Rubin (Kopelev) has to infer from a voiceprint what the voice is saying in front of a MGB official, Nerzhin (Solzhenitsyn) secretly tries to help Rubin by showing the answer by gesture. All these mediums are described as things which deceive people. Among the mediums in the novel, written letters in documents are particularly deceptive. Recorded letters are easily placed under the control of a third party so they do not hold the truth. The cause of the deceptiveness is the materiality of media and body. Nerzhin's hearing is "strange" and fantastic because it omits such media technology and body, which seems indispensable for normal communication, and still can catch voices. Denying all the mediums, Nerzhin tries to approach the origin of suppressed people's voice. In the sharashka he likes to go and listen to Spiridon, a plain peasant, because Spiridon is a blind and illiterate man that is cut from the deceptive media networks (Rubin calls this Nerzhin's "going to the people" in fun). Nerzhin cannot learn any principle of life from Spiridon's tales, but just listens to his voice through his "soul" while sitting side by side; Nerzhin's hearing is independent of reason and media. Nerzhin goes further this way "to the people" and takes a much more radical step by refusing to take part in the work on the cryptography for the scrambler phone, as a result of which he is sent to a regular concentration camp. To leave the sharashka, which serves the regime with media technology, means that he will join the truly suppressed people. At the last moment in the sharashka, Nerzhin sees the van that will transport him and fellow prisoners elsewhere through Moscow city. He sees the word "Meat" painted on the body of the van for disguise. This detail has rich implication. The word "Meat" does not only hide the body of prisoners in the car, but exposes by accident the violence of the language order which treats the human body as "meat." In this scene, violence is not generated in the situation where language has already screened out the body as recent criticism insists, but when language designates the body in a certain way. Throwing his own body from the language order to outside of it, Nerzhin reveals such violence because in this moment he can observe both aspects of Soviet society. This is the point where the relation between language and body is determined. After that, the viewpoint of the narrative suddenly switches to a foreign newspaper reporter who sees the van on the street and takes the word "Meat" as it is. Nerzhin's body vanishes to outside of language but leaves the strange hearing to readers, who now know the violence of language. This consequence of Solzhenitsyn's novel has been criticized in two ways; first, it distinguishes the world of suppressed ordinary people as something sacred. Secondly, it stands in an omnipotent position which commands view of both sides of Soviet society. These arguments are apparently true, but, as we have seen in this paper, The First Circle narrates how two aspects of society (suppressing language order and suppressed body) are being separated. In this separation consists violence, which is depicted in the last scene of the novel (the scene about the "Meat" van). In fact, Nerzhin's vanishing body acts as the medium that informs readers of the two aspects of Soviet society, though he will not admit that the human body functions as a medium. It can be said that Solzhenitsyn himself, when he writes The Gulag Archipelago, for example, works as such a medium, articulating the "reality" of concentration camps to language text.
Type: bulletin (article)
Appears in Collections:スラヴ研究 = Slavic Studies > 51

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