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The Chattering MindA Conceptual History of Everyday Talk$
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Samuel McCormick

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226677637

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226677804.001.0001

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(p.288) Conclusion
The Chattering Mind

Samuel McCormick

University of Chicago Press

By way of conclusion, the final chapter of this book highlights the individuating potential of chatter, idle talk, and empty speech. In particular, it argues that all of these communicative practices are techniques of self-cultivation, and that thanks to the network revolution of late-modernity, we are uniquely poised to develop and refine these techniques. As new technologies and techniques of mobile connection continue to blur the lines between proximal presence and physical absence, allowing users to mediate assembled crowds through dispersed publics, and vice versa, a pantheon of modern dichotomies—self versus society, reason version irrationality, normalcy versus deviance—gives way to a host of crosshatched identities, all of which are at once individual and collective, rational and irrational, normal and pathological. Chatter, idle talk, and empty speech structure and sustain these crosshatched identities. And when these communicative practices occur online, their operations and results become fully traceable, providing content generators of every stripe with unprecedented access to their own digital pasts. Whether access of this sort is sufficient to inspire the “psychoanalytic anamnesis” advocated by Lacan, or the “modifications” of average everydayness theorized by Heidegger, or the “examen rigorosum” envisioned by Kierkegaard remains to be seen.

Keywords:   everyday talk, conversation, communication, big data, personal data, crowd culture, public culture, individualism, network theory, algorithmic culture

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