Thursday, 5 June 2008

I See Only The Basic Materials I May Use

I love borrowing post titles from top 80s tracks*; I get to mould my whinging and moaning around someone else's intelligent thoughts.

So here I am, posting as Jim Callaghan, it seems a bit weird to then launch into full rant mode; so I won't. The toad work is once again rearing its ugly head (end of half term) and this particular toad is extremely ugly, especially in the way it disposes of rival toads. In fact toads are like that. Metaphorical toads I mean, Philip Larkin type toads. Toads don't tend to brook rivals, or challenges. Toads don't appreciate being left alone: they demand attention. Indeed you might argue that the whole concept of work, far from being a way we define ourselves (Gang of Four this time), is a way we have of defixating our egos. Let me explain. You start off with self-obsessional late capitalist man (I'm assuming it's late capitalism, it's beginning to seem like it anyway). He likes the mirror and reads the Guardian with the prim seriousness of the man who knows all opposing worldviews to be not merely incorrect, but also evil. Or he reads the Mail with the insouciance of someone for whom the major story of the day is Christiano Ronaldo's impending move to Real Madrid/new contract at Man Utd. It doesn't matter. The mirror in the bathroom does matter however. So does glass generally. He moves onto blame-everyone-else therapy when he doesn't turn out to be JFK or Einstein: he blames his parents, or the colour of the sky, whatever. The key thing is his victimhood. Then everything he thinks about is in some way internal; himself, sex, his favourite football team, genetic engineering.

What better way could there be to salve this poor man's conscience and bring him out of his morass of self-indulgence than work? OMG - looking outward and putting other people first! Maybe. Responsibility, at any rate. Work forces him into a state of mind where in fact he does not matter at all.

So his life becomes one of those ghastly trick of the mind pictures where he constantly has to switch focus because he simply does not know which is real: the self-absorption, or the responsibility.

The answer of course is that neither of them is real. One is an illusion, and the other a series of pathetic power games which exist, in the main, not to put food on the plate, but to give expression to someone else's self-absorption; because all work comes down in then end to this person. However, our poor confused late-capitalist still needs to put food on his table and so he goes along with it, joins in with it, eventually becomes that person for whom this supposedly outward activity is really just another way of biting the head off the toad.

Work is the devil in the flesh, but not the iron in the soul; more like the iron in the flesh as well.

* Well duh. I've finished with Change and I'm onto Red Guitar now.

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