Sunday, September 03, 2006

After a week or two in which I have been working - wage slaving, so to speak - after quite a long period of unemployment, I remember what it is that regular shift-work teaches you. It changes the very nature of time, shows you how to break it down so that it really can fly. Hours are worth less - they need to be, if you are to make it through the day. And even now, in what is nominally the dead of night, I can think to myself 'well, yesterday I was getting up only 4 1/2 hours from now...' In other words, even the night is broken down. I'm sure there is something lost from the immanent weight of hours.

Which puts me in mind of these bits of Lukacs' History and Class Consciousness:
"The contemplative stance adopted towards a process mechanically conforming to fixed laws and enacted independently of man's consciousness and impervious to human intervention, i.e. a perfectly closed system, must likewise transform the basic categories of man's immediate attitude to the world: it reduces space and time to a common denominator and degrades time to the dimension of space.

[....]

Thus time sheds its qualitative, variable, flowing nature; it freezes into an exactly delimited, quantifiable continuum filled with quantifiable 'things' (the reified, mechanically objectified 'performance' of the worker, wholly separated from his total human personality) : in short, it becomes space."
Incredible, no? Time collapsed into space.

(All this talk of 'whole', 'organic', 'natural' humanity makes me a bit suspicious - I'm sure Lukacs was an old romantic at heart. I'm yet to weight my inklings with any thorough exegesis of the text, however.)

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