[iDC] Immaterial Labor and life beyond utility

Paul B. Hartzog paulbhartzog at gmail.com
Sun Aug 12 03:19:53 UTC 2007

After reading Sobol and Waxman, I thought I would chime in.  So far, I
find this list incredibly useful to my own work and am really enjoying
the discussions.  That said, I continue thus....

First, utility is tautological.  If you decide that human beings do
things only for utility, then you will always find the utility in any
action.  Even suicide can be described as a utilitarian action.

Second, the authentic, and to my mind non-utilitarian, experience of
life, has and always will be, beyond theft or co-optation by "the bad
guys."  When I go to coffee with my friend and discuss Aristotle,
money goes to those it perhaps shouldn't (e.g. evil coffee bean
slavers).  Nonetheless, the substance of the experience belongs
entirely to me and my friend.

My difficulty with the analysis so far in this thread is that I find
it to be preoccupied with current online tools rather than abstract
concepts.  An alternate attempt might go something like this:

Suppose that every moment of your life were visible, capturable,
collatable, analysable, (etc.) to others.  Suppose that EVERY act in
your life, that YOU tried to live authentically, was also being used
for other purposes by someone else.  How would you live?  The answer,
possibly paradox, is that you would ignore it, and in so doing you
would live in such a way that anyone who was watching would be
incapable of seeing your true life at all.  They would only see your
superficial movements, but all the while your inner movement would
channel bliss.

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.  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

Consequently, in my own academic work (i.e. logically), and also in my
personal preference (i.e. aesthetically), I prefer to keep my eyes
turned towards new forms of subversion, resistance, and revolution
enable by new technologies.  To my mind, the really interesting and
revolutionary things going on in the world are invisible to those who
would oppose them.


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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