happiness threshold income (?)2022-06-15 boop
one chapter in capitalist realism can basically be summed up as, "everyone is depressed in the 21st c which never happened before and its capitalisms fault." we collectively agreed that capitalism is prob the root of most peoples depression today but also collectively agreed that we are not so sure about the historic claim. it's actually something i've always thought about - are we more depressed now bc our world is complicated and convoluted and we're all in postmodern ennui blah blah or did they ~literally just not have the word for it before?~ M said, 'the peasants/serfs were probably hella depressed because they had to work on this shit they didn't even own". which is still true, although at least you can own a project and get satisfaction out of that (sometimes?) which is prob better than "I am growing this tomato plant for the overlords' big feast and if i am lucky I get to keep 2 for my 10 children". but i still don't 'own' the project in any meaningful way bc ultimately i don't really care if it tanks except where it affects my paycheck. adorno has some piece where he talks about 'hobbies' and how much he detests the term because it implies that free time spent outside the capitalist system is tangential, trivial. or something like that. (michael ralph also has a v good text more contemporary take on this front, 'killing time,' for anyone who wants a rec.) we should all be invested in 'serious play' - which, true to form, has been appropriated by Lego lol. speaking of which, ive been putting it off, but I gotta finish setting up my darkroom. no excuses since the blackout fabric arrived. photo is one of those things i've managed to decouple from capitalist production and labor, in my own life. which is very nice. i see what adorno means. as of yesterday i now have hit what they call the happiness threshold income. (or is it happiness income threshold.) this is very funny to me. i hadn't heard the term until C mentioned it. i kinda hate these things, like where researchers try to quantify happiness, but weirdly enough i agree. the number hits the sweet spot between "i feel like i am making decent money" and "not enough that i no longer have anything more to try for." marx believed that humans ultimately want to feel productive, and while capitalist production can never provide that true satisfaction, we take what it can give us. when i quit art my totally sheltered humanities phd friend said 'oh wow you sold out' and i fucking railed on him because what does he know about how the rest of us have to make our living locked up in his stupid ivory tower? as if the art world isn't the QUINTESSENTIAL bubble of late capitalism, particularly because it likes to pretend otherwise? but i was mostly mad because it was also something i was beating myself up for every day. for the longest time there were two sides of me at war: "i need to always remember that this industry, and the system it feeds into, is bad so why try" and "for my own personal sanity, i need to actually try at work and aim for goals or else i'll be conflicted and sad all the time." at work they are always asking me to make "the business case." we can't design x feature because it wouldn't help meet the goal of "grow EBITDA by x%" and someone joked "if only it was grow user well being by x%". i hate that i'm getting better at making the business case. i love that i'm getting better at making the business case. we live in a world of compromises - which is better than the serfs had it. but at least they had a common villain to hate, a System to overturn. now who's the enemy?