Talkers Unite!

Uncredited talk labor is exhausting.

 It’s as if the work behind the speech-act is unrecognized while, at the same moment, the speech-product itself becomes fetishized. 

Does the spoken word, aside from those delivered from podiums and such, just occur by some magic? No, and those of us who must toil in our thinking and our annunciations, even in so-called causal conversation, should not have our words taken for granted, as if it’s somehow easy to do most of the talking. 

And often it is us who must describe, outline, project, observe and then struggle to form words and speak them, while the other remains complacent, in the ease of non-speaking, and often in a dominant state of risk-free intersubjective nonrelation. 

You might say the speaker controls and conditions these connections: I would argue vigorously against that assertion. 

What appears as passivity and silence is the power of the arbiter who maintains the choice (and the control) of whether to ignore or listen, to heed or dismiss, with no risk to themselves of misspeaking or “showing their hand”. This silence is power, directed against the talk-laborer. 


It’s up to all talkers to demand a fair accounting of our struggle, of the time and energy we direct to our speech actions, which we cannot reclaim for other purposes, or conserve for ourselves. It is gone! And without compensation. 

With our partners, our associates, our bosses, we must ask for acknowledgment for talk labor, we, talkers of all types, of all classes and creeds, talkers of all ages and stations of life: Talkers Unite!!

Not Knowing

As it turns out, you can fumble around. You can step to the side and let people pass. You can take a minute to think. You can figure it out when you get there. You can ask someone too. 

Deep Meditations on the Crisis of Global Capital

I have a 4 month supply of canned beans, chili and salsa in the kitchen cabinet. It’s because I don’t know what I already have, and I keep buying more.

I am accidentally excessive. But it seems like a symptom; too much capacity for sustenance, too much winning.

While I can find many things about me and my life lacking (everyone can I am sure), with a good accounting it seems more about excess, specifically about too much not being enough.

There’s specific neurosis/anxiety around this for some, hoarders and such, but mine comes from indifference (at least in this case), and a casually wrong estimation of supply and need.

The ‘winning’ is possible because, simply, I have too much capacity to buy, and the price is too low to make it something painful, something to notice. People with much less earnings than I can still afford this indifference, and on the other hand, I imagine there are people who have too much capacity to buy thousand dollar items. So there is some sense of place on the scale of indifference to spending, where we can locate ourselves in the present. And there’s the historic moment where we can all express more economic power to buy as never before (color tv, air travel, transportation), as well as afford this indifference at some level.

The fact one can spend and not lose, that we can store, also means there is security and stability as a backdrop for this “too much of not enough”.

In Oakland have a warehouse that I store things in, and its not used for much else, with locks on doors and a fence. Outside along Wood street are many homeless, who accumulate many things that spill over from their shelters into the street. The area attracts a lot of illegal dumping too. In a concentrated space are different types of excess, those who have the capacity to be excessive and secure the goods, those who accumulate it and rely on its relative worthlessness, along with their presence and their community to secure it, and what is worthless and needs to be expediently disposed of, what must become ownerless, as there is no vessel to contain it.

And yet worth and worthlessness are local, relative to this place, this urban area, this part of the country, this country, which is a kind of meta-container guiding collective judgement, and independent action, on what to do with all this stuff. Pick up each of our piles, or those now unclaimed, and dump them in a very different place across the world, and the rush to ownership and value would change rapidly.

It’s not in the thing itself, and only modified by how the thing is used or guarded. Treasure becomes trash, or the other way around. What the saying omits is … what do we become when our treasure is trash, or our trash is treasure? And is what we then do, our next action, guided by a sense we have of that thing, such as its “usefulness”, or what we can exchange it for, or our emotions about it? In arrogance we might say it doesn’t matter, we downsize and minimalize to express our mastery and independence from imposed values, those who can afford to.

But it seems for me, independent of the specifics, what I have, what I own, what I keep, what I justify, that this highly relative economy of stuff, consumed or simply kept, wanted or needed or just fetishized, is something about desire, something elusive, like a cup filled that never reaches the top, one I sip from but it doesn’t explain where the liquid has gone, where the level is always something other than I thought, in a dreamlike way. I can’t get a grip on it.

And it seems this unknowable and inestimable aspect of desire suggests something deeper, that at it’s core I am spending too much of what I don’t know, and on what I don’t need.

And this suggests an even more fundamental, root problem, that I have too much canned beans, chili and salsa, enough for 4 months! And that is what I must now contend with.

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