Visions of Labour
Lawrence Joseph

I will have writings written all over it    
in human words: wrote Blake. A running form, Pound’s Blake: shouting, whirling    
his arms, his eyes rolling, whirling like flaming cartwheels. Put it this way, in this language:    
a blow in the small of the back from a rifle butt, the crack of a blackjack on a skull, face    
beaten to a pulp, punched in the nose with a fist, glasses flying off, ‘fuckin’ Wobblie    
wop, hit him again for me,’ rifle barrel slammed against the knees, so much blood in the eyes,    
rain, and the night, and the shooting pain all up and down the spine, can’t see. Put it    
this way: in the sense of smell is an acrid odour of scorched metal, in the sense of sound,    
the roaring of blow torches. Put it in this language: labour’s value is abstract value,    
abstracted into space in which a milling machine cutter cuts through the hand, the end of her thumb    
nearly cut off, metal shavings driven in, rapidly infected. Put it at this point, the point at which    
capital is most inhumane, unsentimental, out of control: the quantity of human labour in    
the digital manufacture of a product is progressing toward the economic value of zero, the maintenance    
and monitoring of new cybernetic processes occupied by fungible, commodified labour   
in a form of indentured servitude. Static model, dynamic model, alternate contract environments,    
enterprise size and labour market functions, equilibrium characterisation, elasticity of response    
to productivity shocks: the question in this Third Industrial Revolution is who owns and controls    
the data. That’s what we’re looking at, labour cheap, replaceable, self-replicating, marginal, contracted out    
into smaller and smaller units. Them? Hordes
of them, of depleted economic, social value,    
who don’t count, in any situation, in anyone’s eyes, and won’t count, ever, no matter what happens,    
the truth that, sooner than later, they will simply be eliminated. In Hanover Square, a freezing dawn,    
from inside bronze doors the watchman sips bourbon and black coffee in a paper cup, sees    
a drunk or drugged hedge fund boy step over a passed-out body. A logic of exploitation.    
A logic of submission. The word alienation. Eyes being fixed on mediated screens, in semiotic    
labour flow: how many generations between these States’ age of slavery and ours? Makers,    
we, of perfectly contemplated machines

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I won an award! And I thought they didn’t like me. Apparently, some do.

The award is for the Enterprise Content Management site my team at Somnio and I created (I wrote the content and had a considerable hand in developing the concept) for IBM. (I guess if I’d actually worked there instead of being a freelancer, I would have received a trophy, too.)

Here’s the digital version, though:

trophy_silver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the inevitable website badge:

Thank you for the applause. I’ll be here all week.

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Failure, silence, tasks left undone — talk about your white whales. In literature these empty spaces are very much alive. And by allowing these gaps to exist, literature captures some of the force and poignancy of the lives we never quite manage to live. The opposite of accomplishment is failure, but it is also, crucially, possibility.

Jamie Fisher

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We all live in the midst of a great deal of public noise and the events of the times have a very strong claim on us. The question is, How do you overcome this noise? I don’t really know whether art can exist without a certain degree of tranquillity or spiritual poise; without a certain amount of quiet you can have neither philosophy nor religion nor painting nor poetry. And as one of the specialties of modern life is to abolish this quiet, we are in danger of losing our arts together with the quiet of the soul that art demands.

Saul Bellow

qtd in. Rich, Nathaniel. “Bellow: The ‘Defiant, Irascible Mind’,” The New York Review of Books. 4 Jun. 2015. Kindle. 7 Jun. 2015.

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