The Grand Narratives of History

Humans like to bottle up knowledge into simple narratives. Stories to be told around the campfire or to help us understand the world. Our conception of history is shaped by two grand narratives which sweep beyond their remit to inform our politics and society as well. The fall from grace and march of progress do make for appealing stories, but with one major caveat. They aren’t real.

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Emotional Wage Labour

As workers without the freedom of capital, we have two choices. Either we sell ourselves to an employer in whatever role the labour market has decreed for us, or we starve. Most of us take the first option. We rent out our bodies and minds to the slave owners, bound by contract to obey their bidding. But this isn’t enough for the capitalists. Like the medieval aristocrats, they don’t want to be seen as the petty tyrants they are. The term ‘benevolent job creator’ fits much more nicely. So it isn’t enough that we rent out our bodies and minds. Capital wants our spirit as well.

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Just How Fucked Are We?

I’ve tried to write about other things. But my mind keeps coming back to the one thing which has haunted me. Something which I said I wouldn’t write about, because it was just too damn depressing. Climate change.

The IPCC’s Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC was released two weeks ago, chronicling in exhaustive detail the impacts of worldwide studies on the impact of climate change. The relative impacts of holding warming to 1.5ºC instead of 2. Projected pathways to get there, and how many magic beans would be needed to keep us there. The long and the short of it is – we’re fucked.

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So It Has Come To This

Once upon a time, I was an odd kid with all the potential in the world. Not just in my fevered imagination, but officially – as my high school proudly proclaimed through its Students with High Intellectual Potential program (which has probably changed acronyms several times in the intervening years). Not content with recording some of the top school results in the state, I went on to become a qualified rocket engineer. But what use is there for rocket engineers in a nation whose primary exports are shiny rocks, or even a society whose driving force is the accumulation of profit?

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Towards a New Photography

In the 19th century, the development of the camera turned the art world upside down. Even the most technically skilled painters couldn’t compete with the precision and clarity of the photographers. So visual artists had to reconsider and contextualise their own role. They developed the more abstract and expressionistic styles we call modern art, turning away from the capture of the existing and finding a new niche in more interpretive, unconventional works.

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