A Universal Hubbub Wild of Stunning Sounds and Voices all Confused: The Genesis and Degeneration of Speech in Agamben's Infancy and History and Milton's Paradise Lost



2011, vol. 17, pp.94-110

Departments: Languages & Cultures

In Infancy and History, Giorgio Agamben describes infancy as a leap across the divide which seperates phone from logos, or voice from discourse. Language is made possible by this very division, a fracture that man himself introduces as he emerges from infancy to become the speaking subject. Infancy thus represents the original dimension of humanity. A similar conception of infancy lies at the heart of John Milton’s Paradise Lost. But where Agamben theorizes on the origins of language, Milton describes the degeneration of voice and discourse. With Satan’s plunge into chaos, he fathoms the destruction of the very foundations of human language and culture, an utter breakdown of the logos into animal noise and affect