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From description to depiction: free indirect discourse and online graphical chat

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Iconographic avatars in web-based graphical chat environments work to create a 'shattered' sense of self through the use of emblematics (the bringing together of text and image) coupled with a reformulated use of free indirect discourse, a style of indirect address found in the modern bourgeois novel. Free indirect discourse, or 'middle voice', is crafted by the novelist but takes on the characteristics of the person described, even as the difference between novelist and character creates an ironic distance directed at both the character and the reader who may be encouraged by the style to identify with the character. Avatar-driven graphical chat suggests a synthesis of the value of an avatar external to oneself and that of the ironic distance provided by free indirect discourse. The 'middle ground' of iconographic graphical chat environments exemplifies how images reformulate and seemingly mitigate the tensions inherent in text-based free indirect discourse - with its suggestion of 'experience without a subject' - to create greater ambiguity, irony and abstraction of the self and others. This mirrors how various forces of global capital work to reformulate the subject.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-04-01

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