Lewis Hyde – Work vs. Labor

Over at the excellent Brainpickings blog you can find a quiet acknowledgement) rather than a review in its truest sense – the book was originally published in 1979) of – The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World.

…and although I might disagree with the nomenclature surrounding the appropriation and redefinition of the words “work” and “labor”, it is an interesting stand point that considers Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas of “Flow”.

“Work is what we do by the hour. It begins and, if possible, we do it for money. Welding car bodies on an assembly line is work; washing dishes, computing taxes, walking the rounds in a psychiatric ward, picking asparagus–these are work. Labor, on the other hand, sets its own pace. We may get paid for it, but it’s harder to quantify… Writing a poem, raising a child, developing a new calculus, resolving a neurosis, invention in all forms — these are labors.

Work is an intended activity that is accomplished through the will. A labor can be intended but only to the extent of doing the groundwork, or of not doing things that would clearly prevent the labor. Beyond that, labor has its own schedule.

There is no technology, no time-saving device that can alter the rhythms of creative labor. When the worth of labor is expressed in terms of exchange value, therefore, creativity is automatically devalued [by non-creatives] every time there is an advance in the [potentially creative superceding] technology of work.”

[ my additions ]

Twitter – Brainpickings / https://twitter.com/#!/brainpickings

~ by hesir on January 24, 2012.

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