This essay proposes that we grasp whispering as a problem, a sound source haunted by the violent exclusion of the animal from the medium of communication. Justification for this proposition is provided by examining the intertwining of whispering, allegory, and trauma, especially as these motifs have come to be agitated in various discourses of popular culture. Specifically, the author traces the manifestation of the figure of the Whisperer as it appears first in both the novel and the film The Horse Whisperer and subsequently in both The Ghost Whisperer and The Dog Whisperer, where in every case whispering is entangled with the trauma that the animal and the human are for one another. Distinguishing this whispering from “actual whispering,” whispering of the sort given political meaning in Orlando Figes’s recent study of Stalinist Russia, this article suggests a different kind of political reading of whispering, one that emphasizes its disciplinary power in raising questions about our capacity to think the specificity of sound. Thus this essay seeks not only to listen carefully to a sound problem but to bring such listening to bear on what might be called the “sonic boom” or “sonic turn.”

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