[iDC] hello all

Margaret Morse memorse at comcast.net
Thu Oct 8 08:03:24 UTC 2009

Dear Douglas,
Let me express my sympathies.  It seems we hear of sad things as well  
as happy things (marriages, babies, jobs?) in the margins of this list.

Your comment asking what is left to say led me think about what I  
think is left to say.  (However, I may have missed big chunks of the  
discussion.)  This is not to belittle in any way the overwhelming  
amount of well-informed discussion of playlabor.  I am an outlyer  
here, so these are not recommendations, just my perspective.

First, I haven't seen enough about the erotics of joining play and  
work.  I don't think it is always a death drive dominating situation.   
I am a bad example, of course, because I consider it a privilege to  
have my play  and my work overlap to such an extent.  I consider  
research a great adventure, a road trip, an open dialogue that gives  
meaning to my life; to some extent that research overlaps with  
teaching that is, at its best, playful and serious.  Writing is my  
reason for being, though its been on hold for quite  while; it is  
agony (clearly not the case for most of our posters) and yet it is  
play itself.  My work thus dominates my life, into the wee hours and  
weekends, etc. and yet it is my play, my choice.  I don't "have a  
life" and yet I have a life worth living.

Second, this mixture of work and play has been a trend in American  
culture for far longer than the exploitation of labors of love for  
commons, open source, etc. on the internet by corporate capitalists.   
Consider Arlie Hochschild's book of some years back researching the  
increasing work hours and diminishing hours spent at home by parents.   
Parents, male and female, were both vying with each other for who  
would spend more time at work rather than having to be at home with  
the kids.  Let's face it, for these parents, work was much more  
socially satisfying than a home sphere that has gradually becoming  
near desert in terms of social life and socially validated meanings.   
Work was, in her study, more satisfying and more fun.  (I am putting  
this all too simply.  It has been many years since I read her  
excellent work.)  Now, networking and the virtual life import meaning  
to some extent back home, but it hasn't made home more meaningful.   
(This isn't to say home is really devoid of great meaning, it is just  
not socially validated and shared as much.)  It isn't workaholism that  
makes playlabor, it is our drive for social relations that we need to  
thrive that also open us to exploitation.

Third, I haven't seen enough about play and labor and the combination  
as psychical experiences.  We are getting at the social as eros when  
we get back to Marcuse and via him Freud.  Semiotics in film studies  
was largely concerned with how the pleasure of the  "fiction effect"  
was produced in film.  There are many other psychical effects,  
including those of sociality that to my knowledge haven't been  
developed on this list very much.  There was an interesting spin on  
this issue in the Sean-Jon-Jodi conversation but it wasn't worked out  
except as an issue of a problematic individualism.  I shared one  
experience from the dark ages of the late 60's early 70's with you  
about second wave feminism.  Let me share another perhaps trite  
example from my life in this period.  People's Park may or may not be  
known to this list, but it involved very large demonstrations in  
Berkeley with the aim of having the university release land for a park  
rather than a parking lot/dorm.  It was about the counterculture,  
ecology, radical politics, etc.  I got involved (as I usually did in  
this period) and began buyng plants and planting them with many others  
in a strip of land that was going to be developed.  Putting my plants  
in the soil was a breakthrough for me, since it knitted me together  
with everyone around me.  ("Brothers" and "sisters" disappointed me as  
well, especially as time went on.)  The feeling I had was truly  
"oceanic," a opening out and joining ever more together (see Freud's  
eros) and it has stood me in good stead every since, because I don't  
worry about losing my individualism or that I will ever forget my  
compact with the human race.

For what it is worth.

Margaret Morse

On Oct 8, 2009, at 2:14 AM, Douglas Rushkoff wrote:

> I've been trying to keep up with all that's going on here. Hi
> Christiane! And hi Jonathan! (I know - I have to call that gentleman
> about getting up to Berkman for a brownbag.)  My own complication has
> been a mom on her deathbed, and no other family around. But I'm sorry
> not to have been participating more actively.
> I'm no longer exactly sure what I'm going to speak about, as the last
> hundred or so emails on the list pretty well summarize my own
> headspace on issues of digital labor. I may go back and look at money
> as a medium, just to make sure that is all on the table for other
> discussions. Without recognizing the biases of centralized currency,
> extraction of value from labor doesn't really have a context.
> Or maybe the successive disconnects from the real, and how digital
> technology seems poised to disconnect us further.
> In any case, I'm looking forward to this one - and haven't said that
> (honestly, anyway) about a conference in many many years.
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