[iDC] The work and the .gif

Ken Wark warkk at newschool.edu
Mon Jun 29 15:25:25 UTC 2009

I'm reading this really useful book at the moment by Scott Cutler Shershow called The Work and the Gift (Chicago UP, 2005). The first part parses out all the ways in which 'work' is thought in terms of an anthropoligy of human activity. Work is generally divided between the labour of necessity and the work of creating Works, ie aesthetic work. Pretty much everything said about work then flows from that distinction. One positon has it that the labour of necessity of good for us. Another that it ought to be abolished. A third that the labor of necessity can become aestheticized, and so on. Then there's nostalgia for when the labor of necessity had aesthetic quailties (Sennett's Craftsman). Or futurists who think digital labor will become aesthetic (here Peter Drucker meets Negri, in a weird way). Haven't even got the 'gift' part yet. But so far am chastened by the thought that, like so many others, i have just been playing around with a great combinatory of tropes. 

McKenzie Wark,  Associate Professor of Media Studies, Eugene Lang College and the New School for Social Research

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