01 September 2014

Labor Day: On the Value of Labor

Today we mark the annual, ritual acknowledgment of labor we fail to find, and fail to remember, in the "celebration" of Labor Day--which is really nothing more than the gateway exit from Summertime.

I closed a recent post with the ironic assertion that one's labor has no value. This notion is, of course, preposterous and vile. Under the non-protective (except to itself and its systems and beneficiaries) aegis of, following the term-setting rubric of, within the immersive environment of Late Capitalism, it is easy to forget that your labor has value.

Your labor has value.

Your labor does not have a price tag.

Your labor is not a commodity. It is not a thing.

The value of your labor is not--and does not derive from and is not defined by--your salary or wage.

Your labor is not defined by your job description, nor does its value proceed from it.

Your labor is a presence and an action.

Your labor is attached to, and emanates from, a person and a personality, a past, a present; a body in space and time.

Your labor is inextricably bound to and in your sleep; your nutrition; your exercise; your lodging; your familiars, friends, family, and dependents; your leisure; your play; your pleasure; your gender; your class; your age; your health; your mental health; your happiness, your anxiety, your depression, your joy; your thought; your ongoing education; your travel time; your time; time.

Never forget your labor has value. Your labor has value. Your labor has value.

You have value.

Happy Labor Day.

26 August 2014

On Kate Bush

Watching this delightful BBC documentary on Kate Bush today, Running Up that Hill, I heard many people talk about her music, her output--many of them you've heard of--Annie Clark (of/is St Vincent), Neil Gaiman, Tori Amos, Peter Gabriel, Tricky, David Gilmour, Big Boi (of Outkast)--speaking very personally about their relationship to this music, these albums, these songs. She is, in fact, a musician's musician. Artists we--you and I--are fans of, are fans of hers: example, Prince. The thing about this woman is that we all, each of us, who are beguiled by her, are so beguiled individually and alone. We listen to these songs, over and over, for hours, for years, for ourselves, and it seals a certain place within us, that is only for us, as we puzzle over the words and become lost and found and lost in these sounds. It is only for us; it is only for me; I have dreamed some of these songs, quite literally. Sometimes, I can't tell whether I'm dreaming or not, listening to her. Reality becomes less real, unreal. It's very personal, and it's work, too. She doesn't let you in easily; she doesn't let you in at all. You have to find your own way in, and that makes every entry hard-won and personal and so, so very, very worth it. The thing about Kate Bush is that you don't have to like her; you don't have to like what she does, what she makes. She's going to do it anyway, and you can follow where she goes but never leads. It's up to you. And that is why, when you meet a fellow-traveller, they are like family, in this very queer way. Because you have taken this journey alone, and when you meet someone else who has also made this difficult trek, that moment of recognition is instantaneous and exciting, because you can share what you've learned with each other, and close a circuit here and here in these extraordinary songs. When someone reveals to me that they have a relationship to this music, it feels very much to me like what we're saying to each other is--as if, in a line never written, never uttered, never read, in The Velveteen Rabbit--"Oh, you're real, too!"

Oh. You're real, too.