the drumming rain drops refuses a difference between speech and noise

January 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

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“Do what you love. Love what you do.”

The commands are framed and perched in a living room that can only be described as “well-curated.” A picture of this room appeared first on a popular design blog, but has been pinned, tumbl’d, and liked thousands of times by now.

Lovingly lit and photographed, this room is styled to inspire Sehnsucht, roughly translatable from German as a pleasurable yearning for some utopian thing or place. Despite the fact that it introduces exhortations to labor into a space of leisure, the “do what you love” living room — where artful tchotchkes abound and work is not drudgery but love — is precisely the place all those pinners and likers long to be. The diptych arrangement suggests a secular version of a medieval house altar.

There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem is that it leads not to salvation, but to the devaluation of actual work, including the very work it pretends to elevate — and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Superficially, DWYL is an uplifting piece of advice, urging us to ponder what it is we most enjoy doing and then turn that activity into a wage-generating enterprise. But why should our pleasure be for profit? Who is the audience for this dictum? Who is not?

By keeping us focused on ourselves and our individual happiness, DWYL distracts us from the working conditions of others while validating our own choices and relieving us from obligations to all who labor, whether or not they love it. It is the secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: [unattributed]

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he likes to be on the right side of history (a shame, really, as his New Labour project was closer to Khrushchev ameliorating the worst excesses of a system beginning its terminal phase than it was to establishing a new one)

July 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

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But let’s not mistake sex for the main event. The endless manual jimmying and ripped foil packets and escalating rhythms and release-findings are just foreplay for the real climax, in which Anastasia recognizes that she’s destined to abandon her ordinary, middle-class life in favor of the rarefied veal pen of the modern power elite. Until then, like a swooning female contestant on The Bachelor, Anastasia is offered breathtaking helicopter and glider rides, heady spins in luxury sports cars, and windswept passages on swift catamarans. She is made to gasp at Christian’s plush office, with its sandstone desk and white leather chairs and its stunning vista, or his spacious, immaculate penthouse apartment, with its endless rooms filled with pricey furniture. She is treated to Bollinger pink champagne and grilled sea bass. She is offered a brand new wardrobe replete with stylish heels and gorgeous gowns and designer bras. She is lavished with diamond jewelry and flowers and a new luxury car of her own.

Soon the numbing parade of luxe brands—Cartier, Cristal, Omega, iPad, iPod, Audi, Gucci—takes on the same dulled impact as endlessly tweaked nipples and repeatedly bound wrists. Curiously (but perhaps not surprisingly), our heroine’s responses to these artifacts of her ascendance are eerily similar to her sexual responses: “Oh, my!” “Yes.” “Holy shit!” After that, the superior quality and enormous cost of each item are mulled in excruciating detail. Just as traditional, male-centered pornography seems to feature a particularly clumsy, childish notion of sexiness, the concept of luxury on offer in Fifty Shades is remarkably callow. Like an update of the ostentatious, faux-tasteful wealth of Dynasty, Christian’s penthouse, with its abstract art and dark wood and leather, represents the modern version of enormous flower arrangements and white marble and a house staff trussed up in cartoon-butler regalia. No detail of the environment feels organic or specific to Christian himself; instead, it reflects a prescribed corporate aesthetic of enormous wealth that for some reason James approaches with reverence rather than repulsion or dread. By the time this compulsive lifestyle voyeurism starts invading our narrator’s routine visits to the bathroom (“The restrooms are the height of modern design—all dark wood, black granite, and pools of light from strategically placed halogens”), the author’s veneration of arbitrary signifiers of class has begun to take on grotesque, faintly comedic proportions.  read more

ART: Edoardo de Falchi

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