chapter  4
14 Pages

Alexander Gelley Idle Talk: Scarcity and Excess in Literary Language

How might we spedfy what Genette terms the "indefinite murrnur" of literature? Could this be a "noise" that is not merely a ßaw but a component of the system?3 What does speech in narrative do when it is not conveying the content or substance of a narrative? What I am looking for are instances where there is a hollowing out of what is said, but the act of talking remains. One way to focus on this issue is to pay particular attention to language that is deemed low, formulaic, or "empty" -gossip, chatter, prattle, idiotismes. It is this kind of inadvertence in language that I think of as speech in an "idling" state. Philosophers and critics have not often turned their attention to this question, being more concerned with fully realized language practices.