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Thursday, August 31, 2006
love7death

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
midnite

I woke up this morning to an incredibly loud thunderclap, rolled over to look at my alarm clock, and the screen was blank. The power was out for almost an hour. It was so bizarre, because I had nothing particular scheduled for today, and with the absence of electricity it seemed like there was NOTHING to do. No cooking breakfast, no checking email, no sewing, no TV, no music, no fan, and no mechanical monkey (OK, I don't really have a mechanical monkey). I wrote in my paper journal with an old-school pen, and ate a granola bar, because I literally could not think of anything else to do. I was thinking about how our pre-electricity ancestors must have been so BORED, but it occurs to me that they were probably busy, what with their (a) time-consuming religious beliefs (b) back-breaking agricultural labour and (c) neat hand-crank-operated kitchen gadgets, such as coffee grinders.

Anyway, I went to the bathroom in the dark (scary), wrote in the half-light for awhile, and sat on my bed contemplating just how SILENT it was. When the electricity came back on, there was this sudden whoosh/hum in my apartment which couldn't be directly attributed to any single item, it just started SUDDENLY and then it was as if it had never stopped. The hum of modernity. I know I'm a big-city girl through the through, but I find it comforting. One hour of power outage and I'm already contemplating how to survive the rioting and looting, and, inevitably, the coming winter. I'm thinking thoughts like, "should I be trying to start some sort of bonfire in the kitchen sink?" and looking around for makeshift weapons. And wondering if I would be capable of stalking and killing any small animals, should the need arise. The closest I've ever come to wilderness survival is reading Hatchet.
idle
Davis was one of the early mainstays of whywork.org, where his essays on idleness are often referred to by those who take part in that site’s ongoing Web forum. The two main organizers of whywork.org were D.J. Swanson, founder of CLAWS, an acronym for Creating Livable Alternatives to Wage Slavery, who lives in British Columbia, and Sarah Nelson, like Davis from Bristol and founder of something called the Leisure Party. I ask Davis if that is an actual political party. He laughs. “No, nobody would ever be that energetic!” The whywork forum usually has a number of people on the verge of dropping out of wage slavery looking for advice from people who have already made the plunge. It doesn’t really interest Davis that much. “CLAWS is practical,” he says. “For people who don’t like their jobs, their bosses. I don’t have this problem.” He is, instead, interested in theory.

“Idle theory” is at one level quite simple. “All living creatures have to work to stay alive. Some have to work harder than others. Those creatures that need to do little work to stay alive are more likely to survive periods of difficulty than those that must work harder and longer.” Evolution is thus based, Davis writes on his site, on the “survival of the idlest.” This makes a kind of immediate sense. The more perfectly adapted to its environment, the less an organism would need to struggle. The organisms that are struggling are by definition having trouble with their environment. Human beings have, over their history, gradually struggled less. They developed tools that speed up the work needed to fulfill basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. A knife cuts faster than teeth, a bag or bucket carries more than hands can. This results in a net increase of idle time, time which people can spend in pursuits other than self-maintenance. “It is in this idle time that humans can do as they wish, rather than as they must, and they can think, talk, and play — i.e., act as free moral agents. In Idle Theory, humans are seen as part-time free moral agents, only free to the extent that they are idle.” And idleness is therefore the base of all ethical systems as well. Why is it unethical to steal? Because it decreases the idle time of another, who must now replace that object with more work. Everything that increases idle time is ethically good, everything that decreases it is bad. “The meek shall inherit the earth” is one of the many Biblical aphorisms in favor of idleness; Christ’s “lilies of the field” speech another. Davis finds the prejudice toward idleness in systems of etiquette as well. If two people are walking through a narrow tunnel, wide enough for only one, who backs out? The person closest to his entrance: The option requiring the least effort is the polite solution. Why do we give our seats on the bus to older people? It requires more effort for them to stand.

Sunday, August 20, 2006
Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot

Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams

Wednesday, August 9, 2006
growing floating

"This new weight washes up on my bones in ridges and lumps. I can't see a pattern in it."

more randomness

"We borrow from that world, but we don't let ourselves be fully who we are, which includes that which is always outside of every picture."

Tuesday, August 8, 2006
the eye collapses
and the earth recedes

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