This is another in what I hope to be a month long series of aphoristic (ἀφορισμός) essays, meant to provoke thought rather than explain it. The hope is that, built up on each other, the series will provide a matrix of thoughts that together might lead the reader in new directions. Though each can be read independently of the others, they are intended to be read together and against each other.
One of the great essential tools of the state in the current financial downturn has been the media--especially the television media. This sector has been a most useful vehicle for instructing the masses in the appropriate responses to both the crisis and the heroic efforts of both democratic and republican administrations in overcoming any number of complex problems by borrowing lots of money and threatening to spend it on a host of well deserving members of the political, financial and industrial elites, who together will make everything all right for their charges.
Yet the media itself can sometimes trip over itself in the charge to appropriately instruct the masses with right-thinking attitudes and beliefs. Prominent among these universities of manipulation was a series of back-to-back segments produced by the Columbia Broadcasting Network (CBS) for its behavior and attitude training project: The Early Show.
The initial segment had a suitably authoritative figure report on the difficulties of employment during the current economic downturn. The focus was on the ways in which employers have been seeking to reduce real aggregate wages through a variety of mechanisms, from furloughs, to reductions of working hours. The advice for the masses affected was to work harder without complaint . . . or better yet, become indispensable to the employer. See CBS, Early Show, Pay Cuts Spreading as Economy Worsens (Feb. 26, 2009) ("You could also try to make yourself indispensable to your employer. "It may feel like you're not indispensable when they're cutting your pay," Rosato acknowledges, "but this is also an opportunity, when times are tough, it's better than being laid off. And because they have fewer people, this is the time you want to take on more responsibility at work. And because there are fewer people on the job, you can make yourself more indispensable.").
This segment was immediately followed by a segment featuring Neurologist Caroline Brockington, who discussed a study suggesting that working too hard contributes to dementia. See CBS, The Early Show, Working Overtime Bad for the Brain? (Feb. 26, 2009) ("New research from The Journal of American Epidemiology says that long hours on the job are weakening your mental abilities and could put you at risk for developing dementia. . . . According to Brockington, the people tested in the study had problems with memory, problems with functioning appropriately and problems with reading and comprehension.").
Now this is entertainment! And also insightful. It provides a useful way into a fundamental contradiction of the current global situation, an impossible and irresistible momentum to reconcile the impossible--rhetoric and reality, crisis and mismanagement, symptom and cure. Dementia appears to be the fundamental character of an overworked state and its private corporate elites. Perhaps the money contributed by those whose real wages have been reduced will help.