Tiddley-Bits tea

Tiddley-Bits tea

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Do you generally feel tired? exhausted?

{are you up at night feeling that pea under the bed?}
Do you feel hooked to your laptop? Do you wake up & automatically turn it on & check your emails?
is this how you connect to most people? through some form of social media or electronic device?
{carrie at her work}
Do you feel like your phone is just a prosthetic limb? attached to you at all times and hard to turn off or forget?

or is it just that you don't have enough relaxation time? time "off" & completely "off"? When do you turn off all devices & just relax?
{yes please!}

We live in a world that places emphasis on business. Busyness and business. How many times do you ask someone, 'How are you?' and they answer 'good but busy' or just simply 'busy'. We live in a culture that prides itself on being busy, productive and filling our time with 'doing things', keeping occupied...and when we get the opportunity to be quiet, such as waiting for the bus, or taking the train, people have the tendency to fill it with more stuff--texting someone, checking something on the iphone etc...
I was teaching my Humanities class on the transformations that took place in the 19th century due to the Industrial Revolution (in relation to Dickens' Hard Times where industry turned everyone and everything, including human relationships into machines). We talked about the invention of electricity and other innovations and how these could be positive things but could also lead to the extension of working hours for the lower classes who already were exhausted beyond their limits.
and then...I remembered this brilliant talk by the famous art historian Jonathan Crary I heard a few years ago about the 24/7 clock that we currently operate on. If electricity allowed for longer working hours, today's world hopes to invent a human capacity for no sleep. ...and like any invention, these scientific discoveries will be closely tied to social transformations. Just like the internet that was part of studies related to the DARPA of the Pentagon, the same department is responsible for studying ways to create sleepless soldiers (a truly scary thing, that Crary points out, might lead to pharmaceutical companies selling drugs that would allow us all to work/be awake 24/7). The internet, is of course, an innovative communication tool, but it is so much more and it has already led us towards this 24/7 mentality, transforming the ways that we relate to others, an alternate universe in which there is no day or night, no closing times for shops, no limits to being 'on' it.

Crary's talk "On the Ends of Sleep: Shadow in the Glare of a 24/7 World" is excellent and is available here. It's a must read for anyone living in today's electronic world. But I wanted to leave you with this one quote:
"For there is no longer a single significant sphere or interlude of human existence (with the colossal exception of sleep) that has not been penetrated and taken over as work time, consumption time, or marketing time. In the connexionist paradigm of contemporary capitalism, outlined by Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, there is the highest premium on activity, without any clear distinction between personal and even leisure activity and professional activity. ‘To always be doing something, to move, to change – this is what enjoys prestige, as against stability, which is often synonymous with inaction.’ And they stress that this model of activity is not some transformation of an earlier work-ethic paradigm, but is a profoundly new model of normality, and I would add a model that requires 24/7 temporalities for its realization."

It's not clear how we'll find a way to make sure that leisure time doesn't become so infiltrated with work time. Technology is addictive and it's hard to shut things off. I'm not really offering any advice or a solution, except that a step in the right direction would be to begin to recognise it as a problem...& think of ways we can truly turn off work. One thing I know for sure, is that when I'm out sailing or at my brother-in-law's cabin--somewhere remote--I begin to slow down & reflect on the important things in life.
Happy Wednesday everybody,

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