‘Play’ e ‘game’ in chat
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Borrowing from philosophy (Wittgenstein) and linguistics (Benveniste), the article suggests that the ‘incorporeal’ communication proper to chat (artificial – rather than virtual – chatting) should be considered as a form of ‘one-way’ communication, and that it owes this characteristic to more than one aspect. First and foremost, only the sense of sight is activated: one ‘listens’ with the eyes, and no other sense intervenes to define the relationship with the other person and the meaning of his or her words. Secondly, the evocative power of language, in the chat room, is inherent to the ‘keyed-in’ language (not spoken and not even written): in the absence of the real body of the other, what is evoked here is, primarily, a wide variety of ‘proper bodies’, imaginary or based on ideas, drawn from the repertory of speaking bodies that make up the experience of each individual chatter. In the third place, the object of comprehension, for each chatter, is what appears on the chatter’s computer screen (the words typed in by the other chatters), and reading, in contrast to listening, awards priority to the ‘relation with that which is identical’, to use Barthes’ words. It is only by grasping – among other things – the implicit rules of the game (which are not written and do not correspond to those of so-called ‘netiquette’) that a chatter can actually conceptualise the chatroom conversation as an ‘organised game’ and play it with great enjoyment, bypassing the ‘dangers’ and ‘disappointments’ of any ‘primitive’ or purely imaginary representation of play.
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