Back in my day…

May 14, 2012

Compared to Lazzarato’s studies on control societies, where the infinite multiplicity reduced the work/pleasure barrier to a gradient between ‘hard work’ and ‘hard play’ where all possibilities between exist. In Verwoert’s essay on exhaustion, the idea of work and pleasure seems to be increasingly distinguished. In the exhaustive society, we stay up all night working to allow us more free time in our leisure, which usually ends up with us sleeping in late and wasting our valuable time off. The premise of hard work is tempting, concentrate your efforts into a small period of time, more will be done and more free time will be left over. However, it holds a sinister evolution, exerting one’s self can help you get ahead, but there is always someone who can exert themselves more. Herein lies the dilemma, in a constant battle to improve, one must work continually harder and faster, approaching the increasingly probable, ‘burnout.’

Verwoert’s essay expresses a tone of nostalgia, a sense that the evolution of work and segregation of pleasure has led us to a bad place. With a greater range of pleasures at our grasp, travel, gourmet food, consumables the whistle to work mentality, where work was one’s passion, is all but gone. We envy those that value their work yet spend so much time preventing ourselves from doing the same, and conversely we continue to allow our work life to penetrate into our home life through iPad‘s, Smartphones and email. There is an inequality growing where the number of hours in a day do not add up to the combined hours of working and not working. As Verwoert suggests, the fierce protection of latency in the services, maybe the only bastion of true free-time left and the only thing stopping a headlong charge towards burnout. So, next time you are waiting in a queue or on hold, call you mum and tell her you love her or send someone a postcard.

-Michael Lyon

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