It didn’t initially seem fair to me that I should get laid off the week after Thanksgiving, three weeks before Christmas. Although I neither celebrate nor enjoy the latter holiday, it seemed like the scene out of The Christmas Carol that Dickens couldn’t stand to write. But I guess that the culturally mediated significance the greater United States places on these few weeks are no match for capitalism–and what is Christmas anyway but a holiday whose cultural meaning has long been surpassed in the minds of most Americans by its attached capitalistic values. In other words, as Marx would say, capital really does drive change, and no one, not even a corporation that makes a pretense of having “values” and caring for their employees, is going to let some religious nonsense stop them from doing what’s good for the bottom line, especially as Christmas is religious nonsense pasted on top of previous levels of religious nonsense (or, if you prefer, folkloric nonsense), itself probably resting on previous levels of superstition, all of it drummed up to assuage the old monkey brain fear that the sun is going to go out and the cold winter is going to last forever.
In other words, to quote Ford Prefect, “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
In other words, bah humbug.
I was carrying out my main Christmas tradition this evening, which is making fudge for my husband’s relatives while sulking, and I decided to listen to This American Life’s episode “Christmas and Commerce” (no. 47). It has the long version of David Sedaris’s “The Santaland Diaries,” which if you’ve never heard it, do yourself a favor and listen. I am going to listen to it every year from now on. Anyway, the third act is David Rakoff talking about playing Freud in the window of Barney’s department store in NYC, and he says, “If psychoanalysis was late 19th century secular Judaism’s way of finding spiritual meaning in a post-religious world…retail is the late 20th century’s way of finding spiritual meaning in a post-religious world.” I think that sort of sums up what I’m thinking about.
The decision that I (and several of my coworkers) was laid off came down nearly three weeks ago, and I suppose I should be done with my sulking and on to the next step of the process, finding a new job. But I’m lingering. I don’t know why, exactly–probably the stress from thesis and other things. And, well, “as happy as a Jew on Christmas” is not an expression for a number of very good reasons–this is a difficult time of year, in short. And I’ve been reading Žižek, that doesn’t help.
Filing this under HD5708.5 L86 2013 for Industries. Land use. Labor–Labor. Work. Working class–Labor market. Labor supply. Labor demand–Unemployment. Unemployed–Layoffs. Plant shutdowns. Redundancy–General works.
Here’s a picture of my cat Kali and Edgar the dog chilling out together. Gaze upon it and repeat to yourselves, as I do: It’s only a job. Life goes on.