The Bit Player: Stephen Hawking and the Object Voice
Abstract: This essay argues that the mechanical voice of Stephen Hawking requires theorizing the public as a voice object. I contend that Hawking’s mechanical voice threatened his audience with what Jacques Lacan called the object voice, a voice in excess of bodies and languages that functions as an elusive object-cause of desire. Upon showing how the psychoanalytic account of voice and rhetorical scholarship on publics may mutually inform one another, I argue that, due to the role of publics as an objet petit a, the strange qualities of Hawking’s synthesizer were rhetorically surmounted. In sum, this essay considers whether Hawking’s mechanical voice was really all that different from our own.