Sunday, November 11, 2001

Christopher, it is my profound fear that I am, in fact, quite bonkers and that this imbalance precedes any dalliance with Theory. My abundant thanks, however, for daubing me with a brush of fractional sanity.
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.
Language (marketing, conversation) wears us, we don't wear it. And in this sense - as subjects deluded that we don the finery of language, fondly, in this interval, accessorised with the handbag of marketing, when, in fact, language wears us like a shroud - alienation is a condition of communication.
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.
Angela, How about Ice Ice Baby? :)

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