To set language in motion, to take the sign out of its stasis and to free language from its constraints is the dream of many a modernist and postmodern project that has come true today with the digital revolution. Words start whirling on the screen, they flicker by, they appear and disappear according to a script or a click of the mouse. It seems as if language has lost its stability, as if it has become indeterminate; it seems as if it has lost its materiality, as if it has become virtual, but the question is of course whether the medium affects the being of language.
Was language ever stable and referential? Positing that language has materiality, has language lost its materiality in cyberspace? Or, was it already lost? These are questions that have a bearing only if we see language as self-contained and distinct from its users, that is, if we perceive language in terms of the male fantasy of being one’s own author(ity), originary and uncontaminated by the Other, by an Other that embodies language within a corporeal practice.
In lacanian psychoanalysis, the Other is the site of language. The Other is also the unconscious which, when taken together with Kristeva’s grounding of the unconscious in the body, embodies language within a corporeal practice. The question of the materiality of language, and thus of a text’s materiality, is hence a question of the way in which the body is involved in language production, be it the speaker’s/writer’s body or other bodies and other texts, and the various ways in which they interact.