14 October 2009

Michael Billig is by homeboy

The paradox of ideology is a variant of a general paradox of language, for the use of language involves both autonomy and repetition. The speaker simultaneously is in charge of language and is captured by it. [Roland] Barthes (1982) alluded to the ambiguity, when he wrote that the speaker is 'both master and slave' of language. On the one hand, speech is an assertion of the self, and, thus, the speaker is the master of the moment. On the other hand, speech is a repetition of signs. Within each sign, Barthes suggested, there 'sleeps that monster: a stereotype'. As slave, the speaker must use the words of the language, and, therefore, cannot but reawaken the sleeping monsters. Yet, the speaker, as master, does more than repeat stereotypes: 'I am not content to repeat what has been said, to settle comfortably in the servitude of signs: I speak, I affirm, I assert tellingly what I repeat' (1982: 460).
From Billig (1991) Ideology and Opinions: Studies in Rhetorical Psychology. London: Sage.