Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Voice as Projector of the Soul?

If the eyes may be said to be the window to the soul, might the voice be said to be its projector? This fascinating book by Anne Karpf seems to make that case. I’ve been listening to an interview with her on Dennis Prager’s show and much of what she says--taken from observation and studies--sounds eminently reasonable and insightful. Voice can project such obvious things as age and sex, etc. But she also makes the case that a trained ear can discern such qualities as height, weight, confidence, etc. It sounds like a truly compelling read and one that would certainly be at the top of my reading list if I were running or advising one who is running for President.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Think of Kofi Anan's voice. It was thoroughly objectionable. It isn't the voice of a man, but of something else. It grates. And it spoke volumes about Anan. Just listening to that voice, you'd get a good sense where he would be regarding international affairs. His voice suited him to a tee.

I go with Solzhenitsyn's views, related in his great work, The Gulag Archipelago. He said "it's all in the face," and Solzhenitsyn actually provides pictures, pictures of guys like Naftali Frankel for instance, and those pictures make his case almost air-tight, {Frankel is a creature that should be as commonly known as Eichmann, for like Eichmann he was a human monster, his photo can be seen on page 79, Volume II, The Gulag Archipelago, just go look at that face, JUST LOOK AT IT, everything is there in that evil visage}. But let Solzhenitsyn explain it to all of you in his own words, "And here he is himself, {Illustration # 11}. It is evident from his face how he brimmed with a vicious human-hating animus." Solzhenitsyn then goes on to quote a Soviet writer who tried to flatter the evil Frankel, "the eyes of an interrogator and a prosecutor, the lips of a skeptic and a satirist... A man with enormous love of power and pride, for whom the main thing is unlimited power. If it is necessary for him to be feared, then let him be feared. He spoke harshly to the engineers, attempting to humiliate them." Solzhenitsyn then wrote let "that last phrase... be to us a keystone -- to both the character and biography of Frankel."

Solzhenitsyn comments too on his VOICE. From page 141, Frankel "had a nasal twang and his voice was ordinarily calm." That calmness reflected his unusual and tremendous abilities, but also a cold indifference to the plight of those in his charge. It should be noted that Frankel was "outstanding not only in commerce and organization," but also with facts and figures. He could tally long rows of numbers in his head and possessed a tremendous memory. He could quickly glance at plans and see a flaw therein. "Like Trotsky he always lived aboard trains, traveling around his scattered construction battlefields." "He particularly loved to telephone construction projects at night, helping to perpetuate the legend about himself that he never slept... He never married." He died in Moscow in the 1950s, while so many others were shot. But enough of Frankel.

Is the voice an extension of the man.

BUT consider the contrary case of General George S. Patton. Patton had a high, whiny voice. It wasn't the voice of George C. Scott. Patton compensated for that voice with a grim manner, by putting on his "war face," and his manner, which was so unlike that of Bradley, Marshall and Eisenhower some have speculated was in response to that voice of his, which he never liked.

You can hear strength and conviction in a voice, and you can hear passion.

Recall that debate where Romney tried to waffle on the results of the Surge, and McCain stepped in and barked at him, which forced Romney to capitulate to McCain. I'm not mentioning here the substance of Romney's and McCain's comments, so much as the tenor of the voice. McCain was authoritative, decisive, in a word, a man. Romney's waffling WAS reflected even in his voice, which was weaselly and wormy.

Listen to GW too of late. Remember the guy that said "International law? International law? Well hold it while I go get my lawyer," voice dripping cultural confidence and sarcasm. Now compare him to that man who embarrassed himself at Annapolis. Even watching him has become painful, and listening to him is just murder. I turn him off. I turn him immediately off; I turn the whole damn television OFF!

Remember Reagan's voice. His voice alone told you who he was, what he was. Likewise Thatcher: "The lady is NOT for turning...."

In the interview, the author accounted for and waxed eloquent about the exceptions . . . a great call was taken from a voice actor who plays Fred Flintstone but is actually 5'4" and 115 lbs. . . . I will not do what she said justice but, in essence, the exceptions tend to prove the rule. Nature sometimes errs . . . but art can sometimes overcome her deficiencies. The character actor had learned to study and capture some key trait and exaggerate it so as to fool the listener into mistaking him for a big, lumbering sort of fellow when, in fact, he is but a slight one.

Then there are those who speak of tthe racial prejudice of voice on phone calls.

While voice (phone) may be an aspect of soul (psyche), it is no replacement for speech (logos).

Indeed, as Claudius remarked in I Claudius, "Isn't what a man has to say more important than how he says it...?"

Dan and John you are both entirely correct. But it is still interesting to note how much science can now confirm the suspicions of what used to be common sense on the subject. Of course, we all know that common sense often loses its "sense" when it becomes too common. On the other hand, Claudius is not correct in the political sense . . . in substance and apart from political reality "what a man has to say" is indeed more important than how he says it. But consider what Aristotle says in the Politics about women and their voices . . . she speaks but without authority. That she ought to have it (or may ought to have it) is beside the point.

Julie, You are somewhat correct about Aristotle as I see it. He says something to the effect that women have speech without authority. Now one can take this literally, or one can take it in the terms that he has written this remark in the politics.


So where do women speak with authority? Surely they speak with authority in politics in the 20th century. I myself have learned the lesson.


However, Aristotle may be speaking about women's authority outside politics. I know, this sounds like I wish to relegate all women to the household. However, I think of Judith Swanson's book which speaks of the activity of philosophy outside of politics. If women are deliberately excluded from politics, then the private networks of what they have to say surely point toward philosophic questions.


Just a suggestion.

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