Friday, January 20, 2012

Reality Distortion Field


Machina ex deus. How else to explain their popularity despite the fact that they actually come from places that do not make us better people for owning them, the factories in China where more than a dozen young workers have committed suicide, some by jumping; where workers must now sign a pledge stating that they will not try to kill themselves but if they do, their families will not seek damages; where three people died and fifteen were injured when dust exploded; where 137 people exposed to a toxic chemical suffered nerve damage; where Apple offers injured workers no recompense; where workers, some as young as thirteen, according to an article in The New York Times, typically put in seventy-two-hour weeks, sometimes more, with minimal compensation, few breaks, and little food, to satisfy the overwhelming demand generated by the theatrics, the marketing, the packaging, the consummate engineering, and the herd instinct; and where, it goes without saying, the people who make all this cannot afford to buy it?
"Who Was Steve Jobs?" - Sue Halpern, New York Review of Books
Update: A glimmer of hope on the question of supply chain transparency here (w/ thanks to Geoff Lovett)

6 comments:

scottsavage said...

David - Any chance you caught the THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode last week? They played an excerpt of a monologue by a guy named Mike Daisey. The monologue is called "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." It's a pretty good. Anyways, I really enjoy your work. Can you give a glimpse of what you're working on next?

Stephen Archer said...

Isn't that what the world is turning into? A slave market?

jdaviddark said...

Same old, same old, Scott. Religion (What else is there?) and all that. And no, I don't THINK i heard the Mike Daisy monologue unless that was the one with the guy who stood at the entrance of Foxconn Technology interviewing people. I only the heard part of it, but I mean to tune in further.
Good to hear from you, Stephen. I don't think that's there is to say concerning the future of our sweet old world, but this is certainly case here and there. The film Children of Men comes to mind somehow. Not the last word, but a crucial one.

Stephen Archer said...

Children of Men was an excellent piece of footage, along with 'Gomorrah' which gives an account of this sort of thing too...

Annabanana said...

"Artists, typically, aim to put something of enduring beauty into the world"-that's a bit of idealism that I'll sidestep for the moment.

I don't understand why it has taken this thread of story-the brutality of living conditions at Foxconn-so long to re-emerge. Jobs visited the factory last January and proclaimed it "pretty nice" in response to the stories that were popping up on open democracy, bbc news, and elsewhere, about the suicides that were beginning to look like an epidemic of despair. He went there for damage control, and the story disappeared for a whole year-would it have come back at all if he hadn't died and we weren't afraid of what he could do if we talked about it again? The protest photo-last July. The first time I read a story about suicide as a result of Foxconn's promise to keep up with the impossible demand for ipads-December 2010. The suffering that has happened in China as a result of American appetites is...I almost wrote "staggering," but I can't really put words to it fairly enough to do a single Image-bearing human being justice.

And to Stephen, I'd suggest this world may have always been a slave market in some fashion or another. Sometimes the internet exposes it a little more readily, and so it seems a new trend, but I think it's the same as it ever was.

Stephen Archer said...

Yes, I agree.
Slavery has been a prison ever since Adam's exit out of that Garden.
How do we get to the place of the rage in Eden?