This was 6 years, 10 months, 21 days ago

labor and effort, about who feels like they are part of what, about how you can let yourself pour into a project, as if you were a water in a watering can, flowing onto parched ground, or perhaps more like a sponge, where you draw the world into part of your being and it stays there, collected in small pockets, porous entities.

This winter, after swimming in warm ocean water, I found water draining out of my nose hours later at a gas station, a sudden surprise, the notion of parts of the world secreted in some nasal cavity, microplankton and minerals alike momentarily carrying out the erection of a new microcosm.

Something like that; how the world exists as these entities that you draw into yourself, stored in pockets until they drip out, little by little. To what extent are these things healthy, or unhealthy? What other way to live then to work on the things that you care about the most? In the bathroom in this cafe I wash my hands and stare at the usual "employees must wash hands" sign, but this time very carefully designed, caillgraphy over newsprint over layers of matte-board frames, and I wonder - who took the time to do this, and why, and how? The owner of the cafe? A hired graphic designer? A nearby student, most likely, excited with flushed cheeks to participate in the world.

If you consider the world to be constituted out of labor, and everything to be chains of production, is not everything unpaid labor, all surplus labor everywhere, Marxist exploitation becoming the paranoid criterion that defines all action and movement? A labor theory of value becoming your central philosophy of evaluation. Marx, primarily a philosopher of capitalism, language oozing not with the rhetoric or structure of optimism, but rather full of weighty, real pessimism, of factories full of children, of the logic of value and price and exchange-value pressing against the hard unyielding limit of twenty-four hour days and finite amounts of sunlight leading to stretched days, exploitation, etc.

And effort? Of effort, so then. Is effort joyous? Let's say it is - effort is our exit hatch, it is about doing things that are orthogonal to value (in the truly geometric sense of the word orthogonal- not opposed to, potentially in addition to). Effort is joyous, flexible, free, cares not about resources, not about how much you would waste, not about how much you had left. Effort is the two hours you spent cooking for your friends, the day spent wandering around, time wasted on a side excursion. etc. etc. Effort is the way in which you find things that you didn't even know you were looking for. Effort is a chance encounter and three years of toil and more.

Effort in relation to LTV, then, or socially necessary labor time, is what? SNLT is itself a kind of price, not a Ricardoean direct concrete labor embedded in the object but the average of these objects, always from the beginning a social quantity. Value, haunted from its inception with the specter of the market, of a million ghostly hands averaging out and overlaid into each other.

Effort is concrete labor, and value is already a commodity? Effort is the home brew beer that you spent dozens of hours making. Effort is the startup that you launch, spending nights and days pouring yourself into (or being poured into) something else.

Effort, however, is not the unpaid intern you charm into exploiting themselves for your practice.

--

Over a bottle of wine D talks about a culture of fear, and she's right, we're right, the extent to which the value of intrepid excited joyousness cannot be understated, the power of curiosity and fascination, of a willingness to hesitate, a real excitement of plunging forth, exclamation points after sentences. Nothing more. The myth of financial austerity, or the power of cornered desperation is just that, an awe at an intensity of a destructive outburst. Nothing strong comes from these things. What was/is always at stake is the possibility of being excited, energized, enthused, willing to plunge forth.

--

So here's the thing, in this wavering meandering series of sentences (that make sense mostly to me only, because this is like a series of footnotes rather than the main text; make sure you read this supplement with the necessary base):

This recent (year-long) epistemology+ontology crisis is brought upon because I am, for the first time in my life, doubting the world of words and language, of written knowledge, of all theories, models, ideas. "Why think?", I'm wondering, while myself furiously thinking and wondering.

But that's really the question. Why think? What happens when you think, and think hard, and believe a certain reality to be true? If you think the door is going to open when you turn the doorknob, and the door is locked, what happend? What if the door is not even a real door, but a fake door? What if a left turn leads to a dead end? Are you not continually formulating an internal model of a world, this duplicate processing and recreation of the world that you try to have as accurate as possible? You run your own physics engine ('when things fall, they fall in this and that way'), you project the psyche of other beings, you think about concepts, of all beliefs in things that are understood themselves to be something. Words and language become incantation-like beings with which reality is thought up. "Let there be a war on terror! Let there be the affordable care act! And everyone voted on it, and so it is".

'So then, is not the world made out of the word?', one could say? 'Don't words, or at least, beliefs make things happen? Is not the imaginary the strongest of all forces, are not imagined communities behind the violence of the nation-state?'

'Because', I might say, ' "both words and things make stuff happen" isn't an answer at all, it's a cheap hand wave; of course the answer will always be "both", but my question is about how, in what way, these words hold almost material power, commands arresting people in their tracks, drawings convincing people who don't even know they're being convinced, speech swelling the hearts and minds of a crowd enough to stop (or incite) civil unrest.'

But wait! It strikes me here. In so far as action is political, then words are the tools of action. If action is technical/ecological, then tacit knowledge and Bol knowledge is necessary. Universal healthcare and social housing are primarily political endeavors. Flying to the moon or creating a $5 HIV test is primarily in the domain of skill/action/knowledge/tacit knowledge/mental models (for a shorthand, I will use the word 'compileable', to refer to a question that Manuel De Landa answered post-lecture..). Politics is, like Latour would define it ([POL]), an endless loop, whose mode of veridiction is to continually gather, engage, convince a people...

So what about architecture? Where does that sit on this spectrum?

How about: you are either galvanizing people, or being galvanized to work on things that compile. (And yes, of course, both.)

--

If 2015 is here already, nearly 10% of it having passed by, then the vows this year are to deal with an undoing, to understand these chains of legitimacy, even more, to confront symbolic markers of authority, and to put them aside in favor of the work. Is the work interesting? Does it drive you, enough? Are you curious about the things you're doing? Quite often than not, the aesthetic (whether a visual, formal, institutional, or political aesthetic) is a validation mechanism. Counter to that - Here's to curiosity, the endless perpetual motion engine of being energized, to become obsessed, to share with the world these obsessions, to fully plunge into the process of introspective happenings.