Skip to main content

Labour, alienated

A story in today's Guardian reports that India's IT workers are suffering from 'lifestyle' diseases. The risks of sitting on your arse all day in front of a computer or on the old dog and bone are many, and not just physical. That much thrown around term 'stress' covers a legion of psychological problems associated with such jobs. It all comes under the term 'Alienated Labour'. What does this have to do with writing? Wait. I'll tell you. Literature has covered the alienating effects of corporate life for yonks. Well, since around about the fifties at least. Sloan Wilson's The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit was the leader of the pack in the States, followed by an altogether darker, yet more realistic Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates. It is also a strong motif in Arthur Miller's fantastic novel, Focus, which you would expect. And yet the previous generation's parents would have killed for what they thought of as a 'cushy' desk job in which they could wear a respectable skirt and shirt instead of trundling off down t'pit/factory. Yet the risks can be far more. This is where many people think that we're all middle class now and that Marxism is no longer relevant, yet, in my mind, it is more relevant to these days than ever before. Office life and the illusions of corporate hierarchy you have to buy into and not question in order to be in the line of succession can be hazardous.

Popular posts from this blog

Who was Mary Burns?

On 7th January 1863 Mary Burns was found dead from a suspected heart attack. She was 43 years old. Since her death Mary has received barely any attention despite the fact that she spent over twenty years as the common-law wife of Friedrich Engels, one of the world’s most influential thinkers and the co-founder of Marxism.

Born in 1822, Mary was the oldest surviving child of textile dyer and factory operative, Michael Burns, and Mary Conroy, Irish immigrants from Tipperary. Mary’s parents had married at St. Patrick’s in an area known casually as Irish Town, one of few Catholic churches in Manchester at that time. The year of Mary’s birth and her infancy were significant in that Manchester was still dealing with the aftermath of the event that became known as the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a peaceful protest of the working-classes on the site of St. Peter’s Fields in which several people were killed and hundreds injured. The Massacre occurred when magistrates, alarmed at the size of t…

My PhD critical paper

I thought I'd upload the critical element of my PhD thesis. Hopefully, for those who are interested enough to read it, it will make sense despite the references to my creative work, which I can't upload as I'm seeking publication. And besides, at 68,000 words...

I'm also going to tweak section one of this three section critical paper with a view to journal publication because of the academic interest in the claims I make of Mary.




-Dedicated with love and respect to Dr Bruce Lloyd-


And in memory of my parents:
Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
Good people who taught me so much more than they realised

***


The biggest thank-you is due to Norma Clarke, Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University, who supervised this PhD. I never had cause to doubt my initial instincts as Norma proved to be the best mentor I could ever have wished for.

I would also like to acknowledge the generous studentship that I was fortunate to be awarded by Kingston Universi…

Midwinter Break - Bernard McLaverty

The only other book that I've read of Bernard MacLaverty was the sublime Grace Notes, published in 1997, and shortlisted for the Booker Prize of the same year. That prize was awarded to an author of another similar hiatus recently broken, Arundhati Roy, of the widely acclaimed The God of Small Things. I was certain, when buying the kindle version of Midwinter Break, that MacLaverty's first book in seventeen years (Cal, 2001, was his most recent) had made both the Booker Longlist and Shortlist - but having just double-checked - am disappointed and confused to find it had made neither. MacLaverty's prose style feels Yatesian, after the late Richard Yates, US author of Revolutionary Road, and TheEaster Parade
Midwinter Break, set in Amsterdam, is written in the same deliciously clear and poignant prose that so widely marked out Grace Notes. The husby and I have not long returned from a late summer break in that same fabulous city. With the visit to the Rijksmuseum still fre…