[iDC] Immaterial Labor and life beyond utility

Paul B. Hartzog paulbhartzog at gmail.com
Wed Aug 15 21:49:43 UTC 2007

On 8/13/07, Vasilis Kostakis <kostakis.b at gmail.com> wrote:
> To begin with, Paul claims ,amongst others, that "the authentic life is
> always a subversion, a resistance, a revolution, against some attempt by
> someone else to bind it, to bound it, to define it, to constrain it…"
> whereas afterwards he states that "to live authentically means to create in
> each moment something that cannot be taken and used for other purposes
> because it is necessarily invisible to those who would attempt such a
> theft". To be honest I cannot follow this syllogism as I find it a bit of
> oxymoron. More specifically, supposing that authentic life is a revolution
> against some attempt to bind it, we simultaneously accept that authentic is
> visible to its opponents or in other words to its exploiters.

Thanks for pointing out my little cul-de-sac :-)  I was thinking that
the word "attempt" helped to clarify, but on review it seems it didn't
help much.  Off the top of my head, a weak example might aid:

Imagine a narrative in which "they" have designs to steal your book of
Aristotle, because they perceive that it is the source of your power
to resist their Machiavellian schemes.  What is "invisible" to them is
that it is your experience of the substance of Aristotle and not the
possession of the commodity Aristotle that is the source of your inner

> Furthermore, Paul's final conclusion, which I find brilliant, is that "the
> really interesting and revolutionary things going on in the world are
> invisible to those who would oppose them".  Therefore, I believe that the
> really revolutionary things are visible to their opponents, who, however,
> fail to spot and feel the real essence of them - resembling humans despite
> that they can see the flower and even smell it, they are incapable of taking
> real advantage of it: humans can only cut (by "killing") it, while bees
> succeed in channelling bliss from it.  In that case both bees and humans can
> see the flower (it is not invisible) , but, to put it in Paul's terms, the
> true substance of the experience -the authentic- belongs entirely to bees,
> and the superficial one to humans.

Thank you.  Much of the work I have been involved with (futurist work)
has been for corporate clients.  I have had deep discussions with my
colleagues as to the possibility that we are fore-warning our enemies
by teaching them about the economic importance of open-source, or
cooperation, etc.  These are troubling possibilities.

What is fascinating however is that by and large they truly seem to be
incapable of "seeing" the essence of recent changes in production.
The music industry literally cannot understand the reality of digital
sharing; they (so far) only see it as epiphenomenal to their
established (industrial era)  economic processes.  It is an
aberration, a parasite; it could not stand on its own (they say).

I will be giving a talk in November at De Montfort about
Oort-Cloud.org (an endeavor by myself and Richard Adler) and "Social
Publishing" in general ( http://www.oort-cloud.org/?q=node/2 or
http://many.corante.com/archives/2006/09/02/social_publishing.php ).
The notion of social publishing receives the same treatment from
traditional publishing that music file sharing received from the music
industry:  almost complete blindness.  It is the same treatment that
wikipedia receives from traditional encyclopedists (knowledge

I have yet to find a good metaphor for this, so I am asking for all of
your help.  A good example from history, of a new process that was
ignored and/or downplayed by the establishment ("It'll blow over" or
"It's a fad") would suffice.

much thx,
PaulBHartzog at PaulBHartzog.org
PaulBHartzog at panarchy.com
PHartzog at umich.edu
The Universe is made up of stories, not atoms.
                 --Muriel Rukeyser

See differently, then you will act differently.
                 --Paul B. Hartzog


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