February 5, 2017 (Sunday)

by Yule Heibel on February 4, 2018

Clouds, bless them. Not sure how to start today, my head feels overfull and restless.

Start with the sky – things falling out of the sky the way ideas fall out of my head.

Yesterday I had some fresh insights into a couple of issues. They were so vivid. I thought I’d remember them for sure and would be able to write them down and flesh them out later. Well, today I can’t recall the insights, nor what they were focused on or triggered by. They’ve fallen out of the sky – or perhaps are blended into the general massings of atmospheric blur.

This morning, as I was waking up (from a night of extremely weird dreams I also can’t recall), I thought about that little “gigster’s guide” I wanted to write years ago, and how my main problem was an inability to practice what it would preach in the area of creating a “board of directors” and some of the other aspects of working with other people. (The gigster’s guide would be modeled on the Capital Regional District’s Arts Advisory Council handout for organizations filling out operating grant applications. It’s a readily available, proven template available in one form or another to many arts organizations, designed to teach their grantees about thinking strategically about their organization. My idea was to adapt this to the individual in today’s precarious “gig” economy.) Anyway, at some point between bed and bathroom and beyond, I had to think about inequality. About how until recently I would never have been able to interest W. in any of this, but now that he’s more humbled by age (and the current unemployment), he’s more willing to examine his life, to think about how he can design a better life (my “gigster’s guide” is fundamentally also about designing your life), rather than just following on a track already laid out in advance by someone else.

This was never a collaborative process for us before (and it isn’t now, yet, since we haven’t buckled down to start). Now, he does think about how social life, location, work …all those pieces fit together, and fit together differently if one or the other piece breaks. So, back to inequality: I was always the lesser in this relationship, in terms of earning money and the authority a career brings. Not much authority. So, my feelings of inequality, of being unequal (and having massively failed). Where do you go to find your “tribe” or your “board of directors” (some might call it your “masterminds group”), if you feel you’re starting from a position of inequality, of not having authority, and of failure? (Especially if you’re unclear about your goals, about what you want, now, at this point in your life – because you feel like such a failure, you can’t articulate your aim.)

I suppose my default in the past (before this fiasco impasse I find myself in now) has typically been to find like minds among the rebels. But what if at some point that doesn’t cut it anymore? What if the rebels are tipped toward the deconstructive – even destructive – but not the constructive? Where then do you find your “higher unequals”? You can’t just hang with your bitchy (sorry, not sorry) girlfriends who are also unequal (that’s the ladies who lunch syndrome). You can turn to social do-gooding, to social justice, I suppose. But again, it’s so problem-focused, like the rebels. The risk of burn-out is huge.

I just remembered one of things I forgot. I read an article about the Federal Reserve and how these guys in 2011 were basically laughing at the unemployed (Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors). Among other things, they were incredulous that workers wouldn’t per rule say that it was only permissible to miss 0 days from work per week. Which in turn reminded me of the French 19th century workers’ “blue Monday”: after a 6-day work week, brought on by industrialization (that is, no seasonal variation in work patterns any more), and an entire Sunday morning (half-day) spent in church, harassed into going by the parish priest on pain of eternal damnation if you missed / skipped it, many spent Sunday nights drinking – and skipping work on Mondays because they were too hungover. They were blue Mondays, on account of the blue overcoats factory works wore. For these workers, the church was a “discipline and punish” mechanism, but also a social glue. Industrialization was (is) discipline and punish, but as “efficiency” dominated more and more into the 20th century, it became less of a social glue (a job! coworkers! security […not]!), and instead became socially corrosive. Workers are just ciphers. Meanwhile, media and entertainment usurped the church role(s): we worship before the screens, our sermons are the online rantings of comments boards. Capitalism likes it that way – a strong church can be a beacon for social justice – but financialization increasingly erodes too much of our social foundation.

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