Oh my fuck, how does ambition constantly spiral away from me? These are the dilemmas of work and time and passion and capitalism. We are sitting in this time of over-educated, under-employed young adults, all searching for a decent bit of pay, but its just not there. Every day when I’m at work, I think its a fucking joke. Partly because its not what I want to do, and I imagine its not what anyone wants to do, because we’ve segmented and bureaucratized and outsourced these industries/corporations/institutions so fully and ritualistically to suck any pleasure right out of them. There is, somewhere deep down inside, some tiny gem of value at the heart of them (well, usually, but not always). Lots of companies make halfway decent products. That’s why people buy them. But I always find myself wondering about the employees. And sometimes its like the CEO and other times its like, the lowly receptionist, and other times it is the seriously exploited wage slave somewhere in the “developing world”, and I wonder “Do these people believe in the company they work for?” And I mean believe in the sense of true devotion, like faith. Because many of us do spend more time at work than at worship.
No offence to people with curly hair. But seriously, this guy is a dick.
Cause I started at this new job awhile ago, and I think its the first time in my life where I’ve known someone who really loves their job. That person is not me, in case you were wondering, but it is my boss. And it is more than a little bit likely that he loves it because he gets paid an assload. You know, work becomes far more tolerable when you are on the winning side of the exploitation spectrum. But it still doesn’t become, like, fun, or worthwhile, or – most importantly – “good”. And this is why work is a joke, and why its total horseshit. There’s no correlation between labour and wage. They don’t connect. One of the main things that my boss does is have lunch with rich people, and asks them for money. EATING LUNCH ISN’T WORK. You shouldn’t get paid to do that, and you shouldn’t get paid like $70 an hour to do it, its just offensive. At the very least, we should make wages equitable here and give panhandlers $70 an hour as well. I mean, they are doing the same job.
My job is a joke. I’m sure there is work out there that is not a joke, and that is serious and important. It probably involves helping creatures in some way. Or maybe it involves creating art, or culture. But it probably doesn’t involve answering phones for a rich white dude who owns a publishing house that sells expensive books ABOUT art. Even if those books are absolutely incredible, inspiring and life-altering bits of book design and editing and shiny awesome paper with the best art ever made inside of it, that doesn’t make the phone answering much better (although maybe you like answering phones, and then that job could be TOTALLY RAD). The process of “growth” and or “progress” that is so central to capitalism also involves increasing the distance between work and its benefits, between a product and its creation (i.e. labour). So it becomes increasingly difficult to see both the value and the damage of a product like, I dunno, an iPad or a banana or a painting or whatever. Those two ends are (deliberately) separated; the production and the exhibition are kept as far apart as possible.
I was playing with brush pens, which are really not my friend.
“Food first dates / everything is food / he thought only of pizza when he came into his fist”
This is usually most clear when you see an advertisement. Lately there’s been this TV spot for some beer, I think its Keith’s IPA or something, and they show some hops growing magically and it turns into a bottle of beer RIGHT ON THE VINE. It is very impressive, because beer is grown that quickly and naturally, didn’t you know? Those ads are selling the convenience and experience of a guilt-free purchase. The more those labour relations are obscured, the easier it is to blissfully stunt drive your car through a CGI desert – the calculated effort and aesthetic of ads themselves highlight this disconnect in their internal structure. Ads are polished. You notice it especially when you see a cheap local spot on TV for an accident lawyer or car dealership. “Come down to Ron’s for a wild safari adventure! 3% discount super financing we buy your gold no money down no credit no sandwiches” or whatever. They are full of work and effort that are meant to be invisible, that are meant to highlight the effortlessness of whatever experience & product they are selling. A car = wild freedom, no traffic ever! A beer = the best party, thrown just for you! A car does not equal an assembly line, and if it does, in a commercial it is a future-tech assembly line where only robots work, and those robots never break down ever.
In some way DIY communities can short-circuit this because when you buy something, you are establishing a relationship with the producer, distributor, and exhibitor. Often times the craftsmanship is part of the appeal as well. But you are also not selling sketches and unfinished shit, you want to sell like a nice finished product to people. Something that is complete!
A combination of my favourite joke (random object telephone) and my favourite Twin Peaker
I drew this Log Lady sketch a number of months ago and sent it around to a few friends. One of them suggested I make a print of it, and this has long been in the back of my mind. If I make a print, I could sell it for a couple of bucks, and maybe I can make ten bones off of it! But it has been months and I haven’t done anything with it. I think partly the financial motivation isn’t strong enough (or large enough), but I also haven’t had the drive to do that. Work is sapping my time and ability to manage something like making a print. Sapping my ambition to proceed!
Ambition spirals away from me because work gets in the way, even when its work that is non-work. As I said, my job is a joke. I get paid a stupid amount of money to do not-very-much. Nearly every day I think about how little work I do (today I am blogging because there’s not much to do), but also about how removed I am from the product I am supposed to be contributing to. I am one among many dead ends in a bureaucratic labyrinth. I answer emails and schedule appointments all day, and am lumped into a network of administrators who are somehow supposed to help 1) students get educated and 2) allow already-educated people to perform research. (I work for a university). But what I do in my day to day has absolutely nothing to do with education. My boss gets paid (over) four times as much as I do. Today he’s not even here. Earlier I was wandering around my building and walked up to one of the little research collections stuffed away in an inaccessible tower, and a bunch of students were packing up boxes and working away in this brutal humidity, and I thought that it seemed so much harder than what I was doing, but I am making twice what they are. TWICE! My job is not twice as hard, or as skilled, or any of that. One of the bizarre things about my job is that I get a better wage because I’m dealing with confidential material. Does that make any sense? It shouldn’t be confidential to begin with! Confidential that’s absurd! This is a public institution!
Keep it together people.