Saturday, November 17, 2001

Chris writes about gonzo marketing: "Short form: it's a trojan horse. What will actually happen to organizations as they begin to adopt this new way of relating to workers and markets? I didn't want to spook companies too much in the early going, but neither have I ever recanted on the Cluetrain subtitle: The End of Business As Usual. Think about it..."

Ah. well then, I was hoping for that. Because that means that the little gnat that keeps buzzing around my head is right. Chris, is that gnat you? That little gnat has been giving me a twitch. And with each twitch an electric current runs through me, where for a fleeting second I think, "Could this be happening?" Still, my tendency is to shake it off... "Naw. can't be. just an itch." But it's more than an itch. It's intuition that something *is* happening to business--and it's almost like it's our little secret. The thing that is happening is a power flux, and with each zap, we the people get a little more power, and business with a capital "B" gets a little less. And I feel it. I feel it when I search myself up on google (okay, I already confessed to my narcissism), and I feel it when someone sees blogbuddy on my desktop and gives me a knowing look. And I feel it when I put on the makeshift suit and wander around the halls of my office... There I see people who haven't been buzzed by the gnat yet, and believe me, they can't last long the way things are. These are little things that aren't so small. Soon, we'll take off our burqa veils, people. And then, sweet freeeeeeeeeeeeedom.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Denver Fletcher writes:
One of the things that struck me about some of Chris' examples are that he is advocating different policies, but has not yet got to the point of advocating no policies. He's moving towards a more benevolent dictatorship but he's yet to acknowledge the implicit continuity between serfdom and employment as he envisages it. Will he ever get to freedom as the context in which policy meets its inherent limitations?
You're right, Denver, but consider... there is only so much that Big-B Business can absorb at once, much less implement. Just as the ultimate ramifications of Deming's Total Quality Movement were far more radical than business would have bought into if it understood them out-front, so are the consequences of the gonzo model radical. Short form: it's a trojan horse. What will actually happen to organizations as they begin to adopt this new way of relating to workers and markets? I didn't want to spook companies too much in the early going, but neither have I ever recanted on the Cluetrain subtitle: The End of Business As Usual. Think about it...
One of the main Gonzo idea is the junction of journalism and marketing. Chris stand point is very intersting. Once he expose the evil. Even the mass communication and the mass propaganda wouldn´t like the web growing. They will pretend that “all is the same”. As Larry Lessig uses to say: They are the dark side.

But I think the gonzo journalism (or the journalism made by the free press standpoint) and the marketing (the one that Regis McKenna defines as the marketing using the market point of view) are the diferencial on the net. The propaganda & marketing is a zumbi. The pair - journalism & marketing - fits better in the Internet commom sense. And it works! People wants relevant information instead of the bullshit usually sold.

The Gonzo Model is the revolution. But I think that the companies are so imature to underwrite the markets (at least in Brazil where we have not a strong online community) However they need to talk. I have been proposed them the link among companies to the markets, or better, the companies must to underwrite the markets by calling the people wirh personnal works and spreading their voices. The markets are boiling in conversation. The corporations must realise that internet is media... multi media and interactive place. And the conversation is the new media. Let´s talk! It´s cheap.

Thursday, November 15, 2001

Jeneane, that sure is good advice, that Chicken Lomain tip, I'll remember that one.

I didn't take your rape of voice comment overly literally, I just took some poetic licence with it to fit into my own post. As I noted, analogies are inadequate substitutes, but as Chris notes, stories (analogies) are all we've ever had. Warts and all, they'll just have to do.

I'm curious about your humour policy corporation. I read last night where Chris talks about the corporation having no soul, no heart, and no sex. This resonates with me because I've often found myself explaining to people (who had apparently expected more sense from their employers) that a corporation has no brain, no intelligence.

Instead, they just have policy. This may be because they are top-down command and control junkies as Chris reckons, or it may be because it's just the simplest way to cover a lot of ground. Or maybe it's just that that's all that they have. When all you have is a hammer then everything starts to look like a nail, as the saying goes.

If you work in business you will constantly find examples of policies that have unintended (not to mention ludicrous) consequences, and you'll routinely find them being ignored by the people who are supposed to enforce them.

And a good thing that is, too!

But this also intrigues me because it links into some fundamental political philosophies that interest me. Gonzo is in some senses a celebration of individualism, a liberation of the individual from enforced servitude to a collective policy in the formulation of which the individual had no participation, and (to the degree that it succeeds) a victory over that collectivism in a business context.

It occurs to me that the faults and failures of your traditional corporate marketing division can be seen as parallel to the faults and failures of your typical government departments.

Neither of them have a brain, a mind, a heart, or a soul.

What they do have is, a) Policy, and b) The Means to enforce it.

It further occurs that railing against the policy may be missing the point, since it can only exist because the means to enforce it exists.

One of the things that struck me about some of Chris' examples are that he is advocating different policies, but has not yet got to the point of advocating no policies. He's moving towards a more benevolent dictatorship but he's yet to acknowledge the implicit continuity between serfdom and employment as he envisages it.

Will he ever get to freedom as the context in which policy meets its inherent limitations?

(If traditional marketing is a "divine right of kings" Monarchy:) Is Gonzo Marketing libertarianism or social democracy?
Hernani, yes, you bet!

And btw, Jeneane, I do like the new "blogbrand" at the top of the left column. heh.
being removed - never mind!!. The blogger has not a voice. It´s a service. But we are linking ourselves. In a memic and propagation through the micromarkets. We are scratching our own itch That´s Gonzo Marketing, isn´it???

The very idea of a "humor policy" is hilarious. What if workers took down all those boring Dilbert cartoons and put up supersized posters of the CEO, CFO, CTO, and COO? I mean, what could be funnier than that? Too bad the major corporation must go nameless. Such a policy deserves memorialization and celebration down through the ages. Let its stationery proclaim: "Brought to you by ___ Corp. - The company that just made your laughter grounds for insubordination."

Reading Gonzo--Engaged has been removed from the Blogs of Note on the Blogger home page.

Is this normal? A part of life? Does it effect the conversation?
skewing the record slightly

I had to pipe up again on the topic of my last post with a post-script. This week, a major corporation that must go nameless put out a humor policy for its employees. The rule says that humours pictures or representations will no longer be allowed on company property without prior approval from HR. In other words, you know those cute little Dilbert cartoons hanging up? Take em down.

To the company's defense, I bet I know what prompted the policy change. Every other cube having some form of hanging, decapitated, or de-genitaled Bin-Ladens gets a little tiring, and depending upon how good of a likeness, boarderline offensive for our Arab brethren.

Possible other reasons for the humor edict are that this company just layed off a bunch of folks. So I'm sure the token phone-list-with-names-crossed-out humor and truer-than-life management jokes are wearing thin on the powers that be.

But, what about "safe" humor--you know, the kind that any idiot in their right mind couldn't take offense at? What of Children's drawings? Knock Knock jokes? Cartoons like dilbert? A picture of Chris Locke's head with an arrow through it? Norman-frickin-Rockwell? Where does the company draw the line. And, can't the company allow for some remnants of humor in an already depressing world?

Here we get to Gonzo. Corporations don't make exceptions because their communications--internal just as much as external--are aimed at the masses. It's mass broadcasting, mass marketing, and mass employee communications at it's lousiest, where conformity is the norm and the message is so broad there's no chance for exceptions to tunnel their way through. This is the problem with any macro-message in a world that is turning increasingly micro, thanks to the Internet. And the failure of mass-messages to resonate is taking it's toll inside of companies just as it is in the marketplace.
setting the record straight

Denver--Glad you got the book! You will have a fun few days or weeks (depending on how fast you read, and whether or not you blog as you go). One thing about Gonzo, you have to read it more than once, so be careful not to spill too much Chicken Lomain on the pages.

I had to weight in quickly and say that I didn't mean to imply that marketing=rape. Yikes-stripes, it's what I do for a living, and being gainfully employed (so far), I'd better speak up, just in case the boss checks in. :-)

What I did say, in some post way back when, referenced the rape of voice, which I think is a valid way of describing what happens to some of us when we sign those non-disclosures, non-competes, and all the other nons we sign to get a paycheck. Not every company is guilty of voice raping their employees, but I have worked for some companies that definitely deserve life for the crime.

In these cases, individuality and personality are stripped away from employees as a way for the corporation to control them. Everyone winds up thinking, acting, and sounding just the same. It's funny, but when you come out of one of those kind of companies, you really do feel like a trauma survivor. I can think of at least 7 people within my small circle at my own little-shop-of-horrors (last job) who've been in therapy since leaving the joint.

So while I think corporations can be guilty of violently and completely overtaking their employees to deflower them of any originality and creativity, I don't say the same for marketing, which, when done gonzo style, can be pretty darn pleasurable.
Chris, got your book today, so I've launched into it and maybe soon I'll have something relevant to say, rather than just rambling linguistic onanism.

Hope springs eternal . . . . . . . . . right?
All this heavy thinking was beginning to make my head hurt. I had to get back to the basics.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Anonymity = Alienation?

My fundamental philosophic stance is that all the wisdom you could ever possibly need can be found in the works of the Movie, TV, and Pop Song industries. Alien Nation (the movie) poses the suggestion that not knowing enough about the realities of your neighbors existence can be perilous indeed. I'm not sure that the title Anon Nymity would have had the same effect.

We already know much about any "anonymous" message source on the net, simply by their appearance in a particular media/forum and their mode of expression, and we constantly glean further insight as the expression continues. At some point not too far distant from the beginning the autobiographic data (a/s/l for example) becomes not only unnecessary but actually an impediment to the clarity of the picture we have assembled. While it may be arguably more accurate, depending on our own abilities and proclivities, it will not provide the diligent with any more useful understanding of the person concerned.

Many of those passing ships of 'net night with whom I am most sympatico are strangers to me, not only people whom I have never met face to face, but people whose names I don't know, don't want to know, and may never have the opportunity to discover. They are no less friends or allies, no more alien, for being anonymous. On the net, everyone knows who the dogs are.

You may think that getting to know your neighbors will make you safer, and for some people safety is not the biggest thing, it is the only thing. But when your neighbor's a crackhead gunrunner (or simply a garden variety arsehole), knowing too much for your health is also a distinct possibility.

The problem becomes one such that you can only know what's best in retrospect, and so we confront daily the basic challenge to our bravery or cowardice: will we stand for identity or anonymity? Will we insist on identity as a precursor to conversation? Ditto anonymity? Will we insist on no-one insisting on anything? Will we, perhaps, disappear up our own fundamental orifice as this paragraph seems to have done . . . .

If text is phallic, and anonymity is prophylactic, what then of marketing?
Is it rape as Jeneane has suggested?
Given its essential commercial nature is it prostitution, as I might assume?

Is it simply folks fucking with each other in ways that some of us find distasteful?

Could it be that our disapproval is no more than prudish bigotry?

The only guarantee of anonymity is complete silence, just as the only safe sex is that which you have with your right hand (or index finger, depending on your peculiar tastes in "digital ministrations"). Even the rapists cannot help but reveal themselves, wrapped in corporate latex and lurking in shadowy banner ads though they may be.

Sadly, but truly; prophylactics, like analogies, are inadequate substitutes for the real thing.

This perhaps is what is most disgusting about marketing. The constant loud insistence of intimacy but the simultaneous refusal to engage in any but the singular obsessive unilateral agenda. The implicit deception of it.

Too often alienation results from knowing too much, when what you really want is not sex at all, just Hokey Pokey ice cream.
Hmmm Alienation is a prophylactic for communication. Is text phallic then, Chris? Is alienation the overwrought latex nightcap that precludes unencumbered entry and fertilisation with writerly, masculine seed? Well, I never ;). I order you to go here at once.
Hey Hernani. As am unwashed, ill-dressed and in sorely advanced state of carbon silicon bonding, needless to impart, I Shall Make No Sense. Attribute, please, an egregious platform game. And, ah, not my own poor and customary lexical cassoulet. I reckon a blog, or indeed any form of blather, that does away with its author is ginchy cool. Anonymity might, in fact, augment the volume of a written notion. Like that bloke who wrote that book purportedly about the Clinton administration of which an average fillum was made starring John Travolta. The glaring, present absence of the author made the text so much more thrilling and, apparently, 'incisive'.
In any case, I did want to egest - and please remember that I have not urinated in some 18 hours due to the evil and digital ministrations of the Electronic Arts corporation - that the author who swathes himself in the armour of biography and data (a/s/l) might be considered a naff coward. It is good and it is writerly to conist in the unsettling broth of the net as bodies without organs or names.
In my blog today Here and Now I wrote:
Blogging is enabling us to live a richer life by expressing our thoughts and sharing it with others today. It is making us rethink communication and community. This is fantastic and All the world needs now is love sweet love.

It was good to see the blogging increase yesterday. There is an important discussion going on and we need those who have chosen to be involved to comment, critique and clarify what we are experiencing. Chris's blog today shows that blogging is an integral part of Gonzo.

Jeneane has been both kind and wise to enable this blog as a focus on some of Chris' (and others) thoughts and ideas. It is also a new experiment in architecture.

The Blog Blog on the left lists many participants and now is the time to participate in the actual discussion. Short, long or medium, please blog your thoughts and make this an active and lively place to hang out.
The reason I haven't been here is that I've been there.

Some notes in random order. Helen says "alienation is a condition of communication" and I wonder: or a perhaps condom for communication? Also, she says: "I am fascinated by the mechanics of discourse online and what this can tell us about our non-virtual chatter." In the acknowledgements for Gonzo Marketing, I wrote: "Finally, I’d like to thank the thousands of (valued) EGR readers, who have not only endured my abstruse prolixity and unwarranted abuse, but who continue to grant me the invaluable permission to publicly discover what I mean to say."

Andrew Arnold writes: "In many cases we are our own oppressors." Yeah, Rahsaan Roland Kirk called it volunteer slavery.

Hernani: sorry I haven't answered your mail. I'm a right bastard that way. Cool about the blogged strike.

Mike Sanders: re Us v. Them and treating people in corporations with respect. Of course. And often as not we are those people. I wrote this in Gonzo: " professionalism tends to be arid and passionless, narrowly focused, self-involved. However, this doesn't mean that everyone in business fits this damning characterization. Far from it. In my own experience, there are many more lively intellects at work in the workplace than the misbegotten 'corporate communications' coming out of those places would lead one to believe. There’s often more going on in today’s corporation than today’s corporation would care to admit. New life is growing between the cracks in the corporate edifice, and it’s spreading like a weed."

Too late to be doing this. Must go drink coffee, wait for morning...

I have realised that a lot of anonymous blogs are appearing on the net. Some of that have, actually, a quite strong voice. But the authors are hidden behind a firewall. That´s not Gonzo. If people want to amplify their own voice (debating, arguing, criticizing) they have to show them up. Real people talking to real people. What do you think about this shit?

I've been coming to the conclusion that Gonzo is the space to use your own voice, much as Jeneane has been saying. It is the opportunity, or perhaps the burgeoning recognition of the freedom, to use your own style of voice.

It is not necessarily any particular voice or style of voice, but simply the confidence that your voice has a power and a relevance and a passion and a conviction and a value that are uniquely its own.

So today the theme song HAS to be "The Voice" by John Farnham.

Make A Noise And Make It Clear
We could even try persuading them not to BE bastards.

Opression certainly exists and will certainly be invented if it doesn't exist - at least by some. But, Gonzo in the Hunter S Thompson sense is reclaiming the right to expression as much as the railing against opression. In many cases we are our own oppressors. Companies oppress their employees because they are ignorant of their needs - they haven't heard their voice. The Brazilian example by Hernani is an exaple of that.

The department I worked in had "boss trouble" not so long back and one of my colleagues spoke to a occupational pschologist about the problems we were having. The verdict? You get the boss you deserve. We were not active in expressing ourselves and had in fact talked ourselves into a downward spiral of misery and depression. (Still there by the way, but that's another story).

Gonzo, blogging are certainly intertwined, all as elements of finding a Voice against the background greater globalisation. That's not say I am against global corporations per se, but let's make sure the bastards don't stack the deck in their favour.

Andy A

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

I do believe that either the Cluetrain or the Gonzo ideas are the reverbaration of the own voice. You don´t need to be opressed to realise that speaking is fine and the conversation is, actually, the way to enlight the markets. Nonetheless, the opressed voice have in the Internet a very good chance to be persuasive in their targets. In Brazil, we are in touch with a quite intersting case. The Gazeta Mercantil, a tradicional finnancial journal, was denying to pay their employers for months. They got in a strike. But the law is very complicated and normally defends the corporations. The employers realised that using the bloggger tool was a very cheap way to spread the strike movement voice. And they started to blog their own words. The strike got popularity and the managed that the justice deparment to declare legal the striking. The first time I have seen the blogger used for political action...

there is an interview in portuguese, but you can translate it easilly by using the google or altavista
I would like to retract the statement that Cluetrain and Gonzo passion is driven primarily by anger. It is what I wrote, but not what I intended. It is impossible to know the source of another person's passion.

I certainly don't feel that "Rage Against the Machine" is the only theme of Gonzo and Cluetrain. I would not be here if I did not feel passionately positive about the many great thoughts the authors have shared with us.

However, there is certainly anger in the Cluetrain and Blogging community. I am not talking about RageBoy, his public persona is an import part of the discussion and the fun.

My thoughts were that oppression leads to anger, which sometimes leads to blogging. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But the downside of reacting from anger is the risk of creating an US vs Them fighting mentality which can lead to destructive forms of conflict resolution.

The corporations might be doing some things wrong, but the people in those companies also need to be treated with respect.
Can we do this? Should we do this? Must we do this? I vote for should.
I'm going to just suggest a linkage, or perhaps rupture, between what Mike just posted and Helen's earlier direction - if the impetus to blog arises from oppression (this might not be a fair reduction of Gonzo, but for the sake of argument, if...), Mike's point suggests that if oppression did not exist, we would have to invent it. I.e., do we blog because we are oppressed, or do we posit some mode of oppression in order that we may blog?

I have posted a blog entry about Blogging against Oppression.

Even with the great freedoms we enjoy, we feel oppressed. The Cluetrain thinkers feel the oppression of the corporation. Sometimes it is the oppression of monopoly, and sometimes it is the oppression of conformity. And often it is the oppression of not being treated with respect.

Expression of self alleviates, but does not eliminate the felt oppression. That is why many of us blog. We have strong feelings that we need to express. It gives us the freedom we feel is missing amidst the oppression.

How integral is the "Rage Against the Machine" emotion in Gonzo (and Cluetrain). Chris' message is one of reclaimed passion, but what are the side effects of passion that is driven primarily by anger?
Phew, Helen. "You're doin' my 'ead in" as they used to say in Wales (and probably still do).

I am still trying to get into your line of argument - Jeneane is two days ahead of me. There is an element of language wearing us, but not all the time. See Humpty Dumpty's quote in Alice in Wonderland about words meaning "exactly what I want them to mean neither more nor less" (I paraphrase).

But on the other hand EM Forster said "How do I know what I think, until I write?". Or words to that effect.

And Fletcher I was everything you said (except for the part about baked beans).

The market hasn't changed, its composition is the same. The way of getting at that market has changed; there are more options now and that does mean new ways of addressing people, becuase you come at them from a different angle. The bag of tools hasn't changed, but some people are still tring to put a screw in with a spanner. Choice of tools is the thing.

Voice is that screwdriver - in this context at least. My personal feeling is that Gonzo is not univerally applicable in its entirety. It is however a "mood" to have in mind when writing. it doesn't have to be Gonzo though.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Hokey Pokey - There is no other.
wow...two references to Jaco Pastorius (not on this blog...however, I may have to read on..) might know the composer to the song I choose...because I am not sure of the title...all I know is that the chorus is "trying to make it real compared to what". It is definately in the Jaco style. Lemme know. on to another banal yet telling question for today....

John's views are worth reading as a case study, if nothing else, in relentlessly gung-ho marketecture.

I particularly objected to his Internet revisionism "As Internet traffic began to explode in the first half of the 1990s, it became clear that huge network and server capacity was needed to keep things going. It was business that made that investment. While government and academia remained (and still do remain) important, it was business that fueled the investments that have made possible the medium now used by hundreds of millions of people." (John's emphasis).

It became clear that here was an affluent market that was not being served. Not only that but the non-affluent side of the market (the students) were tomorrows affluent market in embryo. An opportunity that no business could afford to miss - or worse, let their competitors capture!

The investment was most decidedly NOT some altruistic donation intended to "keep things going."

It was a pure marketing play in the oldest and most envious opportunity-eying sense of those words.

The major "businesses" were mom-and-pop ISP's and consortia formed by the Universities because big business was too blind and stupid to see the potential of the net. It was only the burgeoning recognition of the net as a market that bought out the big guns.

Only then did we see the big telcos opening up mass market (see?) ISP's that put most of the small ones out of business. Only then did we see the creation of the massive commercial backbone operators that made the academics, well, academic. Only then did the banner ads become the piss-off-du-jour.

Nothing wrong with business, nor with big business, don't get me wrong, I'm a dyed in the wool capitalist, but this revisionist nonsense is not only plain wrong, it is insultingly wrong.

It also highlights the veracity of Chris' view that the captives inside are as much captive of their perspective ("we're inside, they're outside") as they are of the organisation itself. There is a none too subtle co-dependency gig going on here between the organisation and its captives. The old prisoners dilemma. John is transparently unable to free his voice and say what he really thinks, everything is couched in terms that will not rock the boat because John is most certainly IN THE BOAT!

I did get a laugh out of John's repeated opening, though: "we agree on many things but from different views" - as if repeated assertion is truth (a symptom of the broadcast mindset?) - even as Chris systematically dismantled his views and illustrated their (near*)-complete irrelevance.

* I'll give him the benefit of that small doubt.

Thanks, tom tom.
Helen, one possible means of approaching the question of ''how the real inheres" might be to look at this online discussion between C. Locke and John Patrick regarding business and the Net. How each author frames the problem might be worth exploring in light of your interest in the relationship we have to language. It's an interest I share, and I'll try to join in as I can.

Sunday, November 11, 2001

aaargh, the technology bites me bum again

i hate it when it does that (is that a meme too chris)

i'm not so sure that all the high falutin language or the salubrious use of expletive that chris wraps around his advertising makes it any superior to any other form of marketing

i'm not even sure that chris makes any attempt at even hinting at such an implication in his book (since those larcenous fucks at amazon havent delivered it yet) but he certainly is not afraid to use rageboys list as an effective marketing tool

i'm not convinced that the fact that web-marketing is on the web makes it essentially different to any other form nor makes the relevant success factors any different

and nor has the humble blog escaped his mercantile endeavours so the simultaneous claim that the web is somehow different and ought to be approached differently ought not necessarily to be greeted with unqualified enthusiasm by those who remember fondly the good old days of the net in all its irrelevant academic publicly-funded self-indulgent adolescent glory nor anyone else for that matter

while there may indeed be technical nuances to be learned and assimilated by marketers venturing anew into net territory, it is far from clear that these nuances are, ipso facto, evidence of some fundamental difference in the medium - or its adherents - that makes tradmarcomm obsolescent or even a bit stale

this is a bit like saying that wanting snow-tires proves that the fundamental nature of the ground beneath the snow has changed things so much that maps are no longer sufficient or adequate some other means of finding your way must be learned

as noted chris himself has not hesitated to include blogging as simply one more marketing tool and to consistently use it to point not only to the product he so candidly must sell but to showcase all the other avenues hes assimilated into his marketing campaign as well

it is this fundamental sameness of treatment - that marks the web blogging email and indeed the whole gamut of net-dependent technological advances as simply one more string to the marketers bow - that most upsets the nostalgic ivory tower dwellers of the net

maybe that is why dave winer objects

far from differentiating the web or chris - its apparently most ardent defender of the newly protestant web-marketing faith - as inherently new radical upsetting and possibly dangerous this fundamental sameness shows that neither chris nor any other marketing walla has changed all that much no matter how much the web might have allowed them the opportunity to change our views of (some of) them or just to get to know them better

still hustling still moving product still taking care of business

nothing at all wrong with that

but -

that chris does it with such good humour such admirable rancour such sly wit and purloined genius such eclectic insight and such disturbing rage shouldn't blind anyone to the fact that marketing - as a meme if you like - is not only far from dead it is alive and kicking sand in the face of the puny weaklings cowering in blogs and cursing in futile emails to contact addresses that go nowhere

as i loved to tease my folks when i was a lad "we are the people our parents warned us about - and we are everywhere!"

be afraid - be very afraid
The "Written Word" has a certain gravitas that supercedes the medium. Everyone who's ever made up a price tag for baked beans knows this, as in some way do all the people who've ever bought baked beans. (Who the hell ARE they, anyway? Does anybody consider that shit to be food?)

Anyway, maybe I've led a sheltered existence, but I've never ever seen anyone try to haggle over the tins of baked beans down at the supermarket, - OTOH you can bet your sweet ass if there was no price written up there on the shelf or stuck to each can then no-one'd ever get out of the damned place for all the queueing. Just imagine the body count! It'd be enough to make Arnie squint.

Baked Beans are my favourite bugbear of marketing as propaganda; the ultimate proof of the perfidious lies of the slickest professional whores since the lawyers became respectable. (Huh??? When did that</b> happen?)

You'd be better rewarded, nutritiously speaking, if you ate the paper label wrapped around each can.

It'd be cheaper, by a substantial margin, to just buy reams of paper directly and eat it with Tomato Sauce.

And much MUCH more is spent on marketing the product than on making, shipping, or selling it.

So, for one day only, my theme song has to be Baked Beans, by Mother Goose
First order of business-Angela, if I had to pick one, it would be "A Remark You Made," written by Joe Zawinul and aptly underscored by Jaco Pastorius. I don't have any fun (read: hysterical) links like Helen's tribute to Vanilla Ice and his testicles. [I tried to put a link here to an mp3, but I must not know what I'm doing. Industrious types will find it on their own, on the Heavy Weather album, by Weather Report.]

Onto Helen, who gave me plenty of food for thought-especially on a Sunday, a day when I typically waver between cranky and braindead.

I've been thinking hard about your notion that language wears us, we don't wear it, and I hope I'm close to getting it. At first, I sat puzzled (not new for me), at your idea that "online interaction gives us a (blurry?) snapshot of the way that language uses us." I started thinking about how I form my thoughts when writing. I decided that ultimately, they are formed at the keyboard, and are more or less the same, regardless of whether I'm crafting them on or offline, or for a medium that's on or offline. That's why sticking me in front a new computer renders me useless for a good three days.

So, once I have a thought in my head--and hey, let's not minimize that little success--I taper my language differently because, as we all know, words and thoughts are perceived differently when they look up at us from the paper page in any number of fonts, than they are blaring at us on 640x480 (or whatever it is) glorified light bulb.

Even within the online world, thoughts, meaning, and voice are wrapped within smartass and witty san serif fonts (fishrush and sweet fancy moses come to mind), or serious and informed serif fonts ( comes to mind). So in that way, I suppose language does wear us--the theme of control comes back into orbit--demanding of us that we conform our thoughts to based on such edicts and the supposed perceptions of others.

But still, I wasn't quite getting it--eh?

So then I went back to what I know best. Motherhood. Specifically, the art and science of creating a human life, which, after all, is the ultimate act of meme propagation. Consider that when you are pregnant, you are said to be forming this child within--but ultimately, the child takes over your form. You are said to give birth and new life to the child, but I contest that every woman is reborn through childbirth. In other words, the life you create creates you, and re-creates you. So, somehow I am getting closer to getting it, by relating this notion of "who wears whom" to what I know best.

So taken this way, yes, we are created by language at least as much as we create it. Right? I like to think that language is under my control to craft and play with any way I want. But then…. Yes, I can accept the possibility that maybe I am more or less under its spell.

Thanks for "making those little hamsters in my head run faster," as one of Chris's readers said recently.
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? :)