labor and experience

Posted on June 7th, by jane in Uncategorized. Comments Off on labor and experience

Ever since Susan Gallagher talked with me about Thoreau’s Economy chapter being a send up (or fuck you) of the prevailing economic proposal and labor practices of the time, I’ve been mulling over Thoreau’s privileging of experience over productivity and thinking about how relevant that is today, more so.  Also trying to connect that to aesthetics, witnessing, and climate change.

Some relevant ideas on this:

“To understand these possibilities, it may be helpful to think briefly about the intertwined history of labor and landscape. Perhaps more than other forms of design, labor and landscape are co-generators of one another.  Human behaviors and landscape processes feedback on one another, as the literal liveliness of the materials used to construct landscapes — most obviously, plants, but also animals, fungi, bacteria, insects, and even inanimate substances like sediments, soils, and water which nonetheless possess aggregate behaviors — requires that constructed landscapes are continuously maintained and always evolving, in a struggle between growth and entropy, which are not always easily distinguished. This process of continuous maintenance is not necessarily capital intensive, but it is typically labor intensive. Think of the difference between the process of weeding a garden by hand and maintaining a strip mall planting buffer with weed-whackers and leaf blowers; think of the delicacy and intricacy of the former landscape, and the bluntness of the latter.

That is, the bikers wanted to ride in the future park themselves and as experienced bikers, the volunteers possessed an innate and specific understanding of the physical geometry of the future uses of the park.

Neither of these things are true of the labor employed on the typical capital project. Like most labor in the Post-Fordist economy, the labor employed on capital projects is specialized, corporatized, homogeneous, and standardized; it is fundamentally ill-suited to craft, at once inimical to difference through standardization and resistant to holistic understanding because of the specialization demanded for economic efficiency.”

from an article on Mammoth

and I need to read:  Regina Gagnier’s The Insatiability of Human Wants: Economics and Aesthetics in Human Society


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