Sunday, May 10, 2009
Work: 349th Idea
Everyone knows what work is. Yet something so directly experienced cannot always clear. What can be said of work which is not trite or does not repeat well-worn catch phrases, and what is significant that can be distinguished here?
First of all, the essence of work is that for most persons it goes under the rubric of 'necessity'. Work is what we do to earn money or, outside a monetized system, what we do to survive. Even persons who control large amounts of capital must work, in managing paperwork, staying secure, exercising oversight in the never ending need to evaluate asset performance and service providers.
Yet work also occurs in others ways outside a heavily monetized society. If for example we are building a large database which helps to guide greatest passion, not for remuneration but so that not only we but also our friends and contacts worldwide can benefit from it, this may not be painful or profitable but it is hard work.
Most of what goes for work or is involved in what we call work relates to undergoing effort, in exchanging time and attention in a fixed periods of time, in specific structured environments, usually having to work in cooperation with others in structures of rank and authority, all of this exchanged for money. The great majority of persons in industrialized society then takes that earned money, and spends it, in paying for goods and services provided by others, in an intricate web of earning and consuming.
Work is usually done apart from or outside of nature, and really goes against it. Nature is unrelenting in its force, in opposing man's insignificance, but work performed in a petrochemical society overcomes nature, such compensating for heat and cold, food production, and moving in ways other than with arms and legs. Work typifies modern life, and inexorable economic expansion always creates more work, to the chagrin of all.