(Minor) guilt

March 10, 2011 § 5 Comments

This is a review I wrote for Pop Matters on Heather Havrilesky’s Disaster Preparedness. Short version: why did she write it? (No one knows.) I thought it was a bit of a nasty review and I felt guilty for writing it but then I got tired about feeling guilty and realised that the people who should rightfully feel guilty are the ones writing crappy books and publishing them and thereby wasting paper and killing fucking trees.

In other news. I’ve been feeling extremely guilty about posting irregularly on the blog, which makes me laugh because:

1) I’m always whining about how there are all of two (or three) readers of this blog, and while this is not strictly true, there is nothing about page views that indicates high traffic, much less a moderate one. I was looking at someone else’s blog the other day and they were talking about how their page views dipped from 20,000 to about 15,000. Okay. Mine’s the kind of blog that Nicholas Kristof might consider “backward”, maybe?


2) This blog is a blog. Yes. It’s voluntary. I write when I want to, when I’m trying to figure something out, when I have something worthwhile to say. Or even if I have nothing worthwhile to say but want to say something. So this compulsion to post – like I’m competing with the amorphous Blogosphere – and if I don’t post, someone’s GOING TO BEAT ME TO IT – is ridiculous. Someone, somewhere, is always beating me to it. Add to that the guilt. Always the vague and shifty sense of guilt. I was raised Hindu. Perhaps it’s the Hindu guilt.


I was reading Franco Berardi’s  (BIFO![i]) ‘Cognitarian Subjectivation’ and he said some things in there that just makes utter sense. You might think that the essay is not in English, but it is, and the tongue-twisty words are okay, really, it’s okay; my pea-sized brain made sense of it, and no one else should be afraid. It’s always important to let people know you have a pea-sized brain before they figure it out and get all weird on you.


Here are some choice quotes from Bifo’s article:

Semiocapital puts neuro-psychic energies to work, submitting them to mechanistic speed, compelling cognitive activity to follow the rhythm of networked productivity. As a result, the emotional sphere linked with cognition is stressed to its limit. Cyberspace overloads cybertime, because cyberspace is an unbounded sphere whose speed can accelerate without limits, while cybertime (the organic time of attention, memory, imagination) cannot be sped up beyond a certain point – or it cracks. And it actually is cracking, collapsing under the stress of hyper-productivity. An epidemic of panic and depression is now spreading throughout the circuits of the social brain. The current crisis in the global economy has much to do with this nervous breakdown.

Panic? Check. Depression? Check.

Info-producers are neuro-workers.

I know, right?

Panic, depression, and a de-activation of empathy – it is here that we find the cognitariat’s problem. Precarious cognitive workers are forced to think in terms of competition. You can become friends with another person on Facebook, but genuine friendship is difficult under conditions of virtual isolation and intense economic competition.

After reading Berardi, there is a strong need to flush oneself down the toilet. Because THE FUTILITY OF THE WORLD!!! But Rob Horning does a much better job of parsing Berardi’s arguments here, so you should read that. (But thank me for showing you the way!)

In the meantime, every time I feel guilty about not updating the blog, I’ll just mutter this to myself:

The refusal of work – which is better defined as a refusal of the alienation and exploitation of living time – has been the main engine of innovation, of technological development and knowledge.

Except I started this blog as an antidote to work. It’s not supposed to be just like work!

I know, right?

[i] I have Bifo’s book The Soul at Work. Once I attempt to read it I will write about it here. Meaning I’ll chuck some quotes in here and leave it and hope someone will wonder along and help me figure it out.

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§ 5 Responses to (Minor) guilt

  • […] article herePossibly related posts: (automatically generated)Related posts on nicholas kristof(Minor) guilt « The Blog of DisquietThe YouTube Davos Debates: “Redesigning an important cause” Full …Related posts on peter […]

  • Carla Fran says:

    I love this post! I covers all the wobbles of bloggery, but doesn’t wobble with them. Also, I’m going to follow your rule here, and just go ahead and announce a similar pea-sized brain in my own headpod.

  • Autumn says:

    Well, now I’m reading! I’m guessing you found me through Marginal Utility, certainly a wellspring for thoughts on the unpaid labor of blogging. I don’t know enough theory to really comment but I do know that blogging is filling this odd sort of space between labor of love and labor of, well, labor. And frankly in many ways I’m okay with that as long as it’s not being exploited (i.e. picked up by news sources as “news” when it’s really just me sitting on my ass and not being paid for it).

    Hindu guilt! I’ve heard plenty of Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt but Hindu guilt is new to me…

    Pleased to “meet” you, btw!

    • Subashini says:

      Lovely to “meet” you, too! Thanks for stopping by.

      Yes, I did hear about your blog through Marginal Utility’s tweets sometime back. Totally glad I did. As for blogging and labour, yeah, I get what you mean. But sometimes the whole idea of how much “output” we produce – on blogs, social media, or whatever – is interesting, because for some people/or in some situations, it becomes less about doing it for its own pleasure and more about keeping up, or being in some weird competition. I lack the vocabulary to express what I mean in this context – which is why I rely on the Marginal Utility blog quite a bit to help me think it through.

      Was being a bit tongue-in-cheek with the whole Hindu guilt, thing. But now that you mention it… hmm. 😉

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