Holy Shit: On the Consumption of Oneself through Taboo Speech Acts

Chinese Semiotic Studies 13 (2) 2017, pp.151-170

20 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2016 Last revised: 14 Nov 2019

Date Written: September 1, 2016


This paper addresses the scarcely scrutinized topic in the consumer culture literature regarding how a social actor consumes oneself through speech acts. More specifically, by introducing a new type of speech act, viz. the taboo speech act, and by effectively differentiating it from expletives, slang, swearing words and expressions, I outline how subjectivity appropriates and individuates its systemic underpinning as Other or linguistic system (Saussure) and wall of language (Lacan), in linguistic acts of transgression. Taboo speech acts do not merely express emotions, such as anger and frustration, but seek to contain a linguistic system as ideational totality of acts of parole in a primus affectivus that is incumbent on the inverse sublimation of epithets and cultural symbols that stand synecdochically in a pars pro toto relationship to the limits of what is culturally/linguistically sanctioned. The subject consumes/annihilates and institutes itself at the same time in taboo speech acts whose mission may not be fully accounted for through conversational pragmatics, insofar as they perform at a more foundational level a social ontological function. The offered analysis aims at contributing to the extant literature in consumer cultural theory, applied linguistics and social theory.

Keywords: Taboo, Speech Acts, Conversation Analysis, Selfhood, Pragmatics, Social Ontology, Psychoanalysis

Suggested Citation

Rossolatos, George, Holy Shit: On the Consumption of Oneself through Taboo Speech Acts (September 1, 2016). Chinese Semiotic Studies 13 (2) 2017, pp.151-170. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2846397 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2846397

George Rossolatos (Contact Author)

University of Kassel ( email )

Fachbereich 05
Nora-Platiel-Stra├če 1
34109 Kassel, Hessen 34127

HOME PAGE: http://grossolatos.blogspot.com/

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