Reflection


In the Guardian is a piece about a chap who has written a book about why we should 'downshift' our office-based careers and take up manual work instead. I can sort of see what he's saying, firstly because I'm middle class and thus this kind of 'simple life' longing is practically genetic.. And also because i've had plenty of manual jobs, some of which were genuinely satisfying and enjoyable. I have felt more satisfaction from building and finishing a stone wall than I ever have in an office job. Anyway, this chap said something interesting about futurism and ideas, things which readers of this blog will know I am interested in. Turns out my interest in these things may be a manifestation of narcissism:

'Our physical surroundings no longer hold our attention, and we start to succumb to what Crawford calls "virtualism" – "a vision of the future in which we somehow take leave of material reality and glide about in a pure information economy." This is the vision peddled by numerous commentators on the future of the internet: an ethereal, anchorless world in which all we do is exchange ideas, where everything is funded by advertisements for everything else, and in which all that matters is the production of knowledge – not the sewers and electricity networks and kitchen tables and washing machines on which the knowledge-producers will still presumably rely.This is turning us into narcissists, Crawford claims: we believe that reality is what we make it.
Confronting the material world brings us back to the realisation that there is an undeniable reality, and grappling with it requires us to get over our self-absorption.'

13 comments:

Brit said...

This is why it's important to go out for a walk at lunchtime.

worm said...

I'm trying to start my lunchtime rambles Brit - I have the hiking boots ready and waiting in my desk drawer! Just haven't had time to have a lunchbreak yet, but I'm hoping to in about a fortnight or so! We have a super lake across the fields behind the office which I plan to walk around, and sa 'Hullo clouds hullo sky hullo sun etc'

worm said...

..sorry I said 'walk' when I meant 'skip'

Susan said...

There is narcissism and narcissism. One is a personality disorder. The other is the creeping culture of self-obsession. I blame it on the stars (and the stars!)

Gaw said...

This book is what's taken 'leave of material reality'. I don't know anyone who's denying that there's an 'undeniable [sic] reality' out there. I'm sure such people exist but they existed in days past and wore tin foil hats and twiddled with radios.

This is sub-marxist stuff that in other times and places has produced such delights as the Khmer Rouge.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Despite being a firm opponent of 'undeniable reality' - for purely asthetic reasons, you understand - like you, I have benfitted greatly from it, having found manual labour jobs more enjoyable. And give me the manual labourer with his 'honest' oikishness rather than the office cad any day.

Brit said...

This is sub-marxist stuff that in other times and places has produced such delights as the Khmer Rouge...

...and Paul Kingsnorth.

worm said...

Thanks for the comments all - I guess its a tricky tightrope to walk; if you love the countryside and art and such esoteric things, you are constantly but a mere henna-dyed hairs-breadth away from turning into a smelly communist beardy weirdy.

Gaw said...

I love the countryside as much (probably more) than the next person. However, using it as a screen onto which one projects one's moral fantasies is a bad thing (ditto for manual labour, etc.).

Trivially, it's a form of sentimentality that produces various forms of silliness. More seriously, this way of thinking provides the makings of the sort of posited utopias that can have seriously malign consequences. The Dark Greens (including Kingsnorth) are currently moving down this classic path. Check out the Dark Mountain Project. Something nasty and inhuman will come out of that, I'm sure.

worm said...

lol Gaw, Brit and I were talking about attending that Dark Mountain thing for a laugh. I bet it will be hilariously earnest and full of strangely fascist misanthropy. In a couple of years time they'll probably be listening to Vaughan Williams whilst building huge rally fields and working out how to exterminate the Jews

Susan said...

.. Brit's walk at lunchtime sounds like the perfect antidote to me.

zmkc said...

Is there something I don't know about Vaughan Williams (I like him - should I not?)

worm said...

dont worry zmkc!! there's nothing wrong with a bit of VW - I just picked him as a british version of Wagner, (I could have chosen some one like Elgar too) as he was interested in similar themes at the time (as many composers were) of local legends and pastoral nationalism