Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday

Sunday. Shabbat. The Lord's day...
Sunday is my absolute favorite day in the week.
Even though I am trying to live as much as possible within the economy of grace (NO status, no personal identity, no work, minimal consumption of material things, almost no.. obligations, constraints, routine...) I can still feel how special Sunday is in the week.
In the biblical creation story, God... worked at the creation for six days, and on the seventh he... rested. In French, the word we use is "chômer". It is the same word which has given us... "chômage", unemployment...
You can't believe how ironic this is.
Because Shabbat is like a jewel in the week.
I like to think of the week as a beautiful ring.
There is the precious stone and... the stone's setting.
If you look at the stone WITHOUT its setting, well it just isn't all that pretty.
And if you look at the setting without the stone, well, IT isn't pretty at all.
So.. i shall say that... Shabbat is the STONE, and the "work" week is the setting.
They really can't get along WITHOUT one another. No meaning without one another...
The IDEA behind Shabbat is that it is a day to be... FREE.
Because in the tradition that YOU received from your fathers, as i received it, probably the ultimate value is personal FREEDOM.
Shabbat is a day for US to remember grace.
To remember that work and money are NOT EVERYTHING in our lives, and that we have other needs to be fulfilled, other... GIFTS to bring to this world.
It is a day for us to STOP doing, and BE. Be free. From alienation of all kinds.
A day for us to glory in the creation, in the physical world around us.
A day for us to get back to the garden if we can.
To smell the flowers. To touch, to feel, to taste with our physical bodies.
It is an important BREAK in our weekly routine.
We don't HAVE to go to church, for example, or go to the synagogue (Saturday, for the Jews...), or even the Mosque.
But we DO have to make a break in our routine (when we have one...) in some way.
No thinking without the break. No meaning.
How are YOU making YOUR break ?


12 comments:

Toby said...

Personally I'm not fond of regimentation. I've never understood the adherance to the seven day system, nor do I really believe the description of 'work' as drudge and sweat-of-the-brow has much validity any more. Why only on Sundays should we reconnect with the things we enjoy? If it is for reasons of community, surely there are other ways?

There is a link top right of this blog's home page to "The Abolition of Work", which is an essay by an anarchist who, to me, makes a lot of sense. Because I am a very firm believer in the prediction that technological unemployment will change our attitudes to work forever, I don't believe adherence to bible myths on this topic are helpful. I think this is one of those things we desperately have to let go of.

Debra said...

But Toby... it certainly looks to me as though our attempts to let go of it are making us suffer tremendously.
I don't like the 9 to 5 either.
But... if you are working the earth, you're gonna have to go a long time without a break. No 9-5 there either.
My point is that our lives are made up of alternating rhythms, and that we get meaning out of alternating rhythms, most of us.
Now... probably ONLY the mystical approach to the question permits.. INTRICATING work/not work in the same act (at least, according to our perception). But there are not many of us who have got to the intimate mysticism place...
To me.. we are now living in a world WITHOUT Shabbat, because unemployment is NOT Shabbat either. Unfortunately...
I am not sure technological unemployment is really going to change our attitudes about work, since we seem to be promoting work as a necessary element of personal identity these days. No... identity without work for money. At least I see a lot of that around me.

Toby said...

Change hurts, and deep change hurts deeply. Tech unemployment is having profound effects: witness how few work the land now compared to 100 years ago. Project your imagination forwards 100 years... I can't imagine how it will be, but I do know change is accelerating so fast we cannot keep up. The consequences of the technologies we are unleashing are so wide and deep only time can tell us how this will pan out.

I believe waged-labour is an idea running out of rope. Because we glorified it in the past, and still do to a large extent, does not mean we can keep it alive forever. It's just one way of doing things, of distributing success and praise and dessert. New ways of doing this will come. Getting them up and running will be very messy indeed. I fear for the next few years...

Debra said...

There is.. WAGED labor and waged labor.
The factories that Chaplin parodied in "Modern Times" are a particularly grotesque vision of waged labor.
There is an expo in Grenoble about Vaucanson that I want to go see.
Vaucanson, one of the first... engineers, responsible for creating automats, and HIGHLY responsible for destroying the artisanat, the highly qualified, specialized work that is embodied in string instrument making, in silk weaving in Lyon, where an artisan maintains control over his production from beginning to end, and is not... a MASS of cheap, unqualified labor that can be shoved from one place to the next, and let go when the "employer" wants to get rid of it.
This is a domain where you see how it all hangs together.
"Cheap", unskilled labor mass produces shoddy, "cheap" STUFF FOR THE MASSES.
Now... this may have.. DEMOCRATIZED ACCESS, and made stuff MORE ACCESSIBLE for more people, but in the process... those people became the masses, and WHAT was "produced" became.. STUFF, and the workers, Toby, what have/did THEY become ?
Personally, Toby, I DON'T LIKE STUFF.
Not at all. That is a judgment, by the way.
Yep. No... STUFF for me. (Or at least... the strictest minimum of stuff...)

Toby said...

Skill need have nothing to do with wages. Hunter gatherers are very skilled in many areas. While your points are correct and important, it is the system underlying the changes that is the problem, not the changes in and of themselves. Change is the only constant (I know, I say this too much, but it's true). And whatever we point to in the past to say "see, that was good", itself was a change that killed off whatever it replaced. This is an unavoidable process of nature. Nature is merciless, completely merciless. Until, that is, it birthed humans, who, though often merciless themselves, are capable of mercy and other wonders.

Pursuit of excellence is possible without financial reward. Look at art and parenting, and volunteer work, and open source software. The evidence abounds.

Debra said...

I don't think that Nature is merciless.
I think that this is part of our prejudice.
God, our prejudices keep getting in the way, so much.
Unbelievable...
Sometimes we would do better to be... merciful AND merciless the way that "Nature" is..
Tell me Toby.
WHAT do you see when you have PRECONCEIVED IDEAS about what you're seeing, or what you're GOING to see ?
...

Toby said...

As a process nature is merciless, although not in the way humans can be merciless/merciful. Evolution cannot 'care' in the way humans can, or other animals for that matter. Nature is in effect merciless, though I agree that to say so is something of a projection.

As to your question, there is no perception without prejudice. I know that.

Debra said...

EVERYTHING that is a process is merciless.
Only flesh and blood INCARNATED living beings feel emotion.
But I think that in order for us to feel connected to our surrounding world we NEED to inject our emotion into it.
It is not.. a BAD thing to inject emotion into our world.
During my training as a shrink, I remember that projection gots lots of flack...
But LACK OF PROJECTION.. now the shrinks are waking up to the fact that this can be a rather... scary thing that produces a very devitalized world.

Toby said...

"But I think that in order for us to feel connected to our surrounding world we NEED to inject our emotion into it."

Absolutely. If we do not or cannot do so we are likely sociopathic or psychopathic.

However:

"EVERYTHING that is a process is merciless.
Only flesh and blood INCARNATED living beings feel emotion."

This looks like Descartes has invaded your thinking again, albeit by the back door. Flesh and blood beings are processes of processes, or systems of systems. We have an unsolved mystery in finding out where 'care' and 'mercy' come from, at what point of process- or system-complexity they become possible, because atoms, molecules, light and so on don't possess such qualities, or at least it seems that way. My take is that consciousness (whatever that really is) is the ground of all being, and NOT matter (whatever that really is), but this area is such a huge can of worms I'm happy to leave it as personal opinion, as a private matter.

Debra said...

Have you read the Pullman books ?
They treat these questions in an interesting way.
I like the idea that matter... LOVES spirit, or consciousness.
This is heavy mystery. We will NEVER get to the bottom of this, will we ?, but I like thinking about it.
As much as.. I like sipping my really nice white wine..

Toby said...

Which Pullman books? I don't recall reading any books by a Pullman, so I doubt it very much.

Debra said...

The Dark Materials Trilogy. Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and I can't remember the name of the last book.
Hollywood has made a rather slick, "fascist" looking film out of Northern Lights, but the books are really interesting.
Fantasy/sci fi.
Not since... Milton has a fictional work dealt with this subject with such scope.
Our time really STILL IS capable of epic..
(The only thing I don't like about this trilogy is Pullman's really simplistic and prejudiced treatment of the Roman Catholic church...)
Don't be fooled into thinking that these books are for... kids.
My daughter keeps telling me that I have to read Terry Pratchett's book "Moneyed" (English title ? She's reading in French...). It's.. all about money.
Goody goody. Probably not so dry as textbooks.
I like... having fun while I learn.