Laboring is #effort, but usually effort that has been standardized and segmented. Capitalism was about making labor time measurable, breaking it down into pieces and putting a price on each unit of it as time. Hacking is also about effort, but it isn’t so easy to break it down and quantify it, because it’s a kind of effort that makes qualitative differences. “Information is the difference that makes a difference,” as Gregory Bateson put it. It is very, very hard. But doing it might involve long naps on the couch, a walk around the block, waking up in the middle of the night and banging away at something until dawn. It’s a different kind of effort, with a different relation to time.
It is not “immaterial” effort. Such language just sleds us back to old-fashioned romantic ideas about where ideas come from. Nothing could be more material than producing new ideas, forms, or designs. But there’s a certain nonstandard use of the material resources. You could call it play, or experiment. You can fetishize the nonproductive aspect, particularly from an art historical point of view, but from a design point of view, what results is only secondarily negation. What results is new forms, and the very form of the new. All of what the avant-gardes did in the end is design.
Effort takes energy. The #hack requires a #surplus of energy. “Bataille was right.” It’s what a civilization does with its surplus that defines it, shapes it, prefigures its future. What our civilization chose to do with energy is make it measurable. And so we know that, going by the measure, this civilization can’t last. Its time is already up. It has lost all confidence in itself. We can measure exactly what’s gone wrong with what this civilization does with energy, but its ruling class can’t or won’t make the effort to do anything about it. The art they hoard shows it: this is a ruling class in decline. The obsessive ideological bleating about “pivoting” and “disrupting” is a cover for a glacial stasis.
Original – www.e-flux.com