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Avoiding non-fiction books obviously did not equate to avoiding reality, nor did it prevent my perpetually analysing the present state of disaster.
I found myself dissecting allegedly dystopian novels of which I seem to have read 10 in the last two months! Neither pursuit promoted a healthy state of mind. More likely, they lengthened and deepened the initial state of shock and horror.
At least not for me. By confining myself to reading non-fiction in brief, online, current affairs formats, I ended up feeling disorientation, helplessness, and despair.
The constant barrage of unsubstantiated, ever-changing, emotive information on social media inevitably breeds panic and fear rather than understanding. I find books something of an antidote to this.
Books that critically analyse capitalism, that place the current moment in a historical context, that explore deeper ethical and philosophical questions beyond superficial consumerism - these are balm to the soul when the world seems to have gone mad. They widen your gaze, while the news always seem to narrow it in my experience, anyway.
They do not have the crushing immediacy of live-blogged, constantly updated, real time disasters. They induce contemplation, rather than a reflexive, anxious emotional response. And they're generally not trying to sell you something.
In short, I feel better for reading this astute analysis of capitalism and time. Although it overlaps in some respects with Present Shock: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global WarmingCrary distils a great deal of additional insight in succinct and quite readable style.
There are bits of critical theory jargon here and there, however they do not obscure the points being made. Such terms are generally introduced in order to explain the work of other thinkers.
The huge proportion of our lives that we spend asleep, freed from a morass of simulated needs, subsists as one of the great human affronts to the voraciousness of contemporary capitalism.
Sleep is an uncompromising interruption of the theft of time from us by capitalism. Most of the seemingly irreducible necessities of human life - hunger, thirst, sexual desire, and recently the need for friendship - have been remade into commodified or financialised forms.
Sleep poses the idea of a human need and interval of time that cannot be colonised and harnessed to the massive engine of profitability. The surreal humorist Steve Aylett also briefly makes this point in his non-fiction foray Heart of the Original: Many would wish it abolished, in others.
We are swamped with images and information about the past and its recent catastrophes - but there is also a growing incapacity to engage these traces in ways that could move beyond them, in the interest of a common future.
Amid the mass amnesia sustained by the culture of global capitalism, images have become one of the many depleted and disposable elements that, in their intrinsic archiveability, end up never being discarded, contributing to an ever more congealed and futureless present.
For the vast majority of people, our perceptual and cognitive relationship to communication and information technology will continue to be estranged and disempowered because of the velocity at which new products emerge and at which arbitrary reconfigurations of entire systems take place.
This intensified rhythm precludes the possibility of becoming familiar with any given arrangement.
Another point that had strong personal resonance for me was this, on the loss of daydreaming time: Now one of the attractions of current systems is their operating speed: When there are delays or breaks of empty time, they are rarely openings for the drift of consciousness in which one becomes unmoored from the constraints and demands of the immediate present.
There is a profound incompatibility of anything resembling reverie with the priorities of efficiency, functionality, and speed. This paragraph reminded me that as a teenager I considered daydreaming a cherished hobby.
I would sit or lie still with my eyes shut, blocking out the world with trance music on a walkman, and explore vividly detailed daydream worlds. This was a time before I had internet access at home, or a family computer that could do more than word-processing. These days, my daydreaming skills are weaker, although they survive and get frequent use on public transport and other interstitial moments.
If you want to be left totally alone, zero distractions, just you and your mind, then I recommend lying perfectly still in a loud white tube for three hours. I really enjoyed it and found I could daydream very vividly in a delightful semi-conscious state, probably best described as reverie.
The pull of electronic devices and the demands of to-do lists are absolutely antithetical to such states of mind. Crary even manages to cover the preponderance of apocalyptic and dystopian visions in popular culture, a particular interest of mine cf Combined and Uneven Apocalypse:c) Descreve a realidade tal como é.
d) Se podem replicar os resultados.
Segundo a norma APA (), o título de um trabalho científico deve: a) Ser conciso. As concepções podem atuar, por um lado, como um filtro que estrutura o sentido que damos às coisas e, por outro lado, como bloqueadoras em relação a novas realidades, limitando nossas possibilidades de atuação e compreensão.
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