Digital Labor

In Capital, Marx (1973: 104) notes that the concept of ‘labour’ only became thinkable once capitalist mechanization and marketization homogenized or abstracted a range of work or trades – smith, cooper, weaver – so that they could be theorized as sharing an identity, being made of the same ‘stuff’. Today, ‘life itself’, abstracted as information, becomes a productive force: species-being becomes theorize-able not as some human essence or destiny, but because capital has made it a real abstraction.

By widening the idea of a laborer and what exactly counts as labor also expands the idea of what type of work someone can contribute. With this new definition, someone who is a developer or hacker is now a laborer. Therefore, their labor can be exploited or might not deliver the results one hopes for after working, just like how in Transmission Arjun has difficulty reaching success even after his move to Silicon Valley and trying to earn a living as a techie.

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Neuromancer and Pickup on South Street

Neuromancer and Pickup On South Street both have similar elements in terms of setting. There aren’t too many scenes that are set in a public atmosphere, most are private because noir stories involver private business. Those that are in public, however, are either for transitioning to the next part of the story (more so in Neuromancer) or are vital for the plot (Candy realizing her wallet was stolen). It’s the private setting where most of the business of the story occurs.

Wednesday Feb. 5

Since Case is a character trying to rise out of his marginalized position in society, it reflects the social class conditions of being a hacker. His skill is enough to get him through life, but he cannot thrive.

Punk – Monday, January 29th

Merriam-Webster defines “punk” as “a young inexperienced person.” When comparing Neuromancer with the Sex Pistols video, they both contain elements of marginalization that an individual can experience when he or she doesn’t share mainstream perspectives or opinions on ways of living. Case is a character who experiences life as someone who was robbed of a properly working nervous system, excluding him from cyberspace, which makes him disabled in a way. This contributes into his antihero characteristics that leave him jaded. The music of the sex pistols contains lyrics that reflect the same mindset, with such lyrics as “God save the queen / She’s not a human being / and There’s no future / And England’s dreaming.” The Sex Pistols express that there is no hope left and that the only person who can save the day is God, a force bigger than mankind. Both Neuromance and The Sex Pistols exhibit someone’s hopeless outlook after experiencing a quality stolen from them.

Slave in form v. Slave in fact

“I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.”

Douglas was able to learn how to read and write, which is a power that brings him intellectually equal to his masters. Though he may physically be bound by his status, mentally he can think and critique like someone who is not enslaved.

Connections between Douglas and Emerson/Whitman

Fredrick Douglas’s memoir is a recalling of his upbringing and all the events that led up to his eventual escape to New York, where he was able to become free and get married. Prior to that, Douglas had to take action in order to gain his new life. This compares to Emerson because Emerson’s argument is that the only way to live is to take action, and you cannot idle and lay around because without action, there is no learning. Douglas had to learn to read, and he had to forth with escaping to earn freedom. Therefore, Douglas contrasts to Whitman, who promotes loafing and lounging as the best way to live.

“The American Scholar” connected to “Leaves of Grass”

When the mind is braced by labor and invention, the page of whatever book we read becomes luminous with manifold allusion. Every sentence is doubly significant, and the sense of our author is as broad as the world. – “The American Scholar”

These lines from Emerson’s “The American Scholar” are connected to Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass” by its contrasting approach on how to conduct in life. Emerson is promoting “labor and invention,” and suggesting that one must perform some sort of action in order to experience the fruitfulness of life. The books that we read (reading is to do nothing) are supplements and make that experience much richer, but they cannot replace it. According to Whitman, however, to loaf is to have full enjoyment. To lay against one another and to experience that intimacy is the ideal way to embrace life.

Where Nature Plays a Transformative Role

A narrative in which nature plays a transformative role is in the book Holes.

In the book, Stanley is sent to Camp Green Lake after being wrongfully accused of stealing a pair of famous sneakers. At the camp, Stanley befriends a guy named Zero who he teaches to how to read and write in exchange of Zero helping Stanley dig his holes. The camp staff finds out, Zero runs away, and Stanley finds him in the mountains alone. In the end, they find a suitcase that belongs to Stanley’s family, but they are captured by the warden and she claims the suitcase belongs to her. Zero reveals that it has Stanley’s great-grandfarther’s name on it, proving it belongs to his family.

In the scene where Stanley finds Zero in the mountains, nature plays a pivotal role. Zero and Stanley survive off of onions that they found, which are connected to Stanley’s family’s past. During this time, Stanley sings song that he doesn’t realize lifts a curse that was placed on his family. After they regain their strength, they are able to find the treasure, which is the climax of the story.