Friday, February 09, 2007

Dangerous but co-operative

Sorry for my slackness in posting as of late. The bad news is that it’s set to continue on indefinitely, but the good news is that I’ve got – shock, horror – a job.

The above headline caught my eye this morning, as a neat truism for Xer men. It actually refers to David Hicks, as an omnibus justification for his continued lex nullius detention (which, after five years is now an act of torture, per se). Unpacking the three-word phrase vis a vis Hicks yields insights too many and too black to elaborate on. Tellingly, “dangerous but co-operative” (“/dangerous but cooperative”) was a Google singularity until this morning, with this charming thought being the sole antecedent use of the DBC phrase:

"A hungry female is dangerous but cooperative and in need of men to survive".

Continuing on from some recent posts, as well as the “dangerous but co-operative” theme, I’ve been thinking a lot about depression. It seems to me to be an economic dysfunction at least as much as a mental illness/dysfunction.

Depression, in economic terms, is a condition of extreme risk illiquidity. Akin to a run on a bank, depression mandates impossibly heavy withdrawals on one’s deposits of mental security – that is to say, past positive-outcome risk. Making any fresh deposits (= taking risks) in this mental micro-economy is of course abhorrent, leaving oneself stuck: waiting indefinitely outside the closed doors of the mindset/bank of security, angrily waving one’s mental pass-book in the air, and hoping that even a trickle of comfort might be released from within.

This condition of extreme risk illiquidity seems to me to be a strongly generational phenomenon. Going against this is a mention in today’s AFR which seems to argue that the wholesale risk-emburdening of individuals is more universal, at least in the US:

“Among the most influential books of 2006 was [Jacob] Hacker’s The Great Risk Shift: The Assault on American Jobs, Families, Health Care, and Retirement, and How You Can Fight Back. His fundamental argument is that security is that basis for economic opportunity”*.

Stuff economic opportunity, I say (albeit it’s a peculiarly American thing, anyway). Security is a much more basic and important human need than that.

* Tony Walker, “Underpaid and poor in the USA” AFR 9 February 2007

I reckon I was sub-clinically depressed in my twenties, even now ten years later the mere thought of applying for a job makes me feel very, very sad. It's definitely an economic dysfunction, the economy made me but does not know what to do with me? After all I didn't make me, the economy did.

I mean, it failed to inculcate a sense of economic/personal agency in me when it made me, and now it is paying the price. Big mistake.

The economy can never really shift the risk onto the individual, the economy can only pretend it has.

There is no such thing as the individual, there is only the economy.
Nice one, Paul. Though it does beg the question will we soon be seeing celeberaties battling with the black canary of recession?

And now that you have a job, does that make you less dangerous and more co-operative? Recently I have been made co-operative (erm, have a job - Job Network organised a wholly inappropriate one) for the first time ever - Meika, it is something to be wary of, at our age at least.

Like many others I was too busy persuing the ethical, educational and artistic imperatives rather than the economic ones through my 20's. Now, in Meika's words, the economy has found what do with me - lift 15kg boxes with my puny 55kg nerd body all day, all week. (note I am the oldest there - the rest are strapping 20 somethings).

Others in my peer group have been foisted with the other bottom rung job in our society - call centres.

The interesting thing is that this kind of work not only leaves one with no energy, it also shuts down the analytical parts of the brain. I guess that makes us no longer dangerous - even to ourselves in the depressed genx male kind of way -- just way too knackered and dumb at the end of the day to be arsed fiddling around with ropes and pills.

Hope your 'job' isn't as appalling Paul. :)
Welcome to the cruel world.
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