I am currently waiting for the proof of Your Face is a Forest. Now that a certain fast-moving planet has gone direct, I expect it to arrive by Friday. If all’s correct, the print version will go on sale 1 November. I’ll be staggering its release; the print version will be available through Lulu first; then the electronic book a little later through the same outlet, and possibly through other outlets (Amazon, etc.) by December first.
A note on that ‘possibly’: if you’re unfamiliar with the ways large distributors profit-take, you may find it interesting (or appalling, likely) that retailers like Amazon take roughly half the purchase price for themselves. After production costs (rather low through Lulu, by the way), the creator receives about 15% of the total sale, before taxes. So, Amazon and other outlets will get half the money you pay for merely being a monopolistic go-to source for your compensated labor.
Another interesting thing to note about Amazon–they’ve significantly re-organized large neighborhoods in Seattle, being one of the five or six major corporate engines of gentrification here. While no specific worker in their employ can be blamed for the destruction their employer has helped wreak upon minority and low-income housing stock, together, the influence of their armies of workers cannot be ignored. Friends who work in cafes and restaurants in the neighborhood Amazon has taken over (formerly a warehouse and old-house district, once site of some of the best independent theater and co-operative performance spaces I’ve ever seen, as well as enough low-income housing that many social-services organizations had shelters and food-banks there) refer to those employees as “Amazombies,” known for their shuffling gait and lifeless gaze (directed towards phones, not the un-tipped barista making their coffee).
What tech-companies do to their employees is appalling, but also indescribable. They seem so drained, yet to put ones finger on precisely what it is that seems missing from them after a day of work is quite difficult. It’s different from the physical destruction of the body enacted upon janitors, house-cleaners, cooks, or other manual-service labor; upon the lesser-compensated, you can see the pain and exhaustion of deteriorating joints and locked muscles. On a tech worker, the body appears untouched (except the slackened jaw and atrophied muscles, which can be remedied by expensive gym memberships), but the social-presence is depleted somehow.
We don’t have the language to describe every kind of vampirism enacted upon workers. What is stolen from the soul of a smiling customer service representative or the nanny, and how is it different from the construction worker or tech worker? They’re all exhausted at the end of the day, drained of some vital life force, but the sciences give us no way to quantify those differences. In fact, the sciences have no interest in that matter except when employed to increase worker productivity–that is, to make more efficient the draining and to ensure a steady procession of open-veined supplicants to the temples of Work.
None of this is an indictment against the workers themselves, of course. We should remember that Capitalism distributes compensation differently not on account of the actual human-worth of the work, but rather upon how compliant and extractable the soul it drains. If we’re all prostitutes to Capitalism (and we are), the tech-worker is the ‘escort’ and the janitor is the ‘street’ worker. The escort knows his or her ‘place’ in society better than the street-worker, but really the only difference between them is access and compensation.
Also, that disparity in compensation serves Capitalism more than it serves the higher-compensated. It creates an artificial divide between exploited peoples, allowing the higher-compensated (yet still exploited) people to see themselves as different from the janitors cleaning their offices, while the barista making them coffee in the morning confronts that disparity with resentment towards the higher-paid (know how many baristas give repeated non-tipping regulars decaf? Every single one I’ve met. And don’t ask me about what’s gone into your food at restaurants if you were condescending to a server).
Those disparities extend further. Capitalism thrives on and re-inforces unequal gender relations; male employees who are paid more than female employees come to see their different compensation as naturally-derived. More significantly, it needs racial tension–minorities are shunted into lower-compensated labor sectors as an easy-sorting method, and few tech workers really wonder too-loudly about the whiteness of their ‘peers,’ let alone the vast distance in compensation between themselves, their owners, and the immigrant janitor.
These differences ensure class-solidarity never physically-embodies. Workers return to different neighborhoods in a city based on compensation, so that there’s no chance a lesbian bio-tech engineer will live next door to a black single-mother working in fast food. They definitely won’t get their groceries at the same place or take their children to the same park, either, so there’s no chance a sexual-minority and a racial minority will have occasion to make common cause and build social relations outside the mediation of Capitalism. Which breeds misunderstanding, fear, and hatred–the very stuff of Capitalist relations.
This stuff gets depressing, huh?
But, hey. I’m going to Newgrange for Winter Solstice. Maybe I’ll figure out something to help us there. Yeah, I just said that. Because it’s so fucking wyrd-bent that it’s gotta be for something.
And I’ve got a book out soon, but that won’t fix much, except make it so I can write more.
And there’s another awesome announcement I can’t make yet (dammit), but it’s pretty cool, too, and involves me talking more about Capitalism and the gods.
Which reminds me! Go read this.
And be fucking well, all of you!