Tom, I am not certain that I wanted to chart an alienated voice. It’s my demi-conviction not that we have become somehow alienated as speaking subjects (and excuse me if I am ‘misreading’ you) but that the act of speech is itself immanently ‘alienating’. This apparently downbeat surmise does not take its cue from the assumption that language is somehow representational nor a means of ‘expression’. I don’t reckon that subjects are striving to exact some kinda meaning when they use language, cos, y’know, the author and the speaker died shortly after God, or so I’m told ;).
The ‘meaning’ that we endeavour to ‘express’, in this reading of language and conversation, is, in fact, a by-product and demand of language, not its motivation. (To return, briefly, to the topic of marketing by way of analogy; products could be viewed as the side-effect of the gauche semaphore that is advertising, and not the other way around.) Language clamours for and synthesises meaning. Language entices selves, the bearers of meaning, into existence. I am not overly fond of Virginia Woolf - nor, it ought be noted, the thousands of fey lassies with nascent eating disorders and bad poetry habits who have that pretty profile of her on their bedroom walls - but I do find this quote, taken from Orlando, handy when thinking about the nature of language and meaning
- there is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not we them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking.
I would like, if you and others are amenable, to explore this idea that online interaction gives us a (blurry?) snapshot of the way that language uses us - as frankly, I am not entirely satisfied by works on the subject. Personally, I am not really intrigued at all by pop-psychological ramblings re how the internet impinges on the way subjects interact in the Real space. I am more interested to learn how the real inheres online. I am fascinated by the mechanics of discourse online and what this can tell us about our non-virtual chatter. The architecture of our online communications is still, happily, clumsy and transparent. Let's 'talk' before it gets opaque.