Everything seems like an unruly blur where my experience post-graduation has become permanently curtailed by career narratives. I often find myself fluttering between stability and instability – recognizing the obvious colossal downfall of craving things in place. The hunt for permanent employment has not let up, and the flux of casual labour has me temporally stunted. Among many people I know in the field (or out of the field more like) there is an insecure trend of non-opportunities that seems to be growing progressively worse. Much of my experience at SLAIS was spent cultivating research around this notion of precarity as it culminates and is amplified in commercial social networking technologies. My directed study, “Revolutionaries will not be friended: owning activism through social networking,” provided a critique of these networks as a space for radicalism employed by social agitators (a term I first heard from Antonis Vradis and Dimitris Dalakoglou of Occupied London).
I come at the onset of new information technologies in a totalizing fashion; I think a curated event on Facebook should make everyone, particularly social agitators, discomfited and hesitant. In retrospect, I think a lot of my apprehension and radical critiques came from being inundated with community rhetoric, especially in the discourse of Community Informatics where bridging the technological gap between digital ‘natives’ and ‘non-natives’ is the primary concern. Identities were treated as givens. As a Downtown Eastside Tech Hub, part of Vancouver’s Digital Strategies, is under negotiations, I’m starting to visualize a continuation of this project on precarity as it pertains to media communication and depersonalized time – here I see a clash of precarious subsets, the valorization of signs and symbols via info-labour and the struggle of the marginalized populations in the DTES. Franco Berardi writes, “An experience that derives from worker’s struggle in the last years, is that the struggle of precarious workers does not make a cycle” and I keep pressing the notion precarious labour is in itself stratified and discombobulated. As someone who has worked extensively in the DTES and also continues to pursue a career in information studies (librarianship, research, archival projects), my writing builds upon these experiences in order to establish a discourse of strategy.
My critical thinking is still taken up by the siege of global capitalism on the planet, and I’ve found focus in the attention given to precarious labour by Franco Berardi, Matteo Pasquinelli, Silvia Federici, and Christian Marazzi. The problem, I’ve noticed, is how much the critical writing I’ve read has become a foil for my own renderings of life. Things aren’t going as planned, and the more I come to terms with the larger picture the more it’s difficult to keep on going. Last night I had dinner with my best friend, and I spoke out loud about waiting for an end and the madness that resumes in narrativity. She asked, what do you mean by ends, and I had to think twice, because lately ends have meant, not the real philosophical question of suicide, but the shape of life as a disc such as how ancient cultures believed the Earth was flat. I’ve been thinking I’ll fall into something else, a new body even. I said instead (the alternative thought wasn’t clear until now), to this financial and unemployment struggle. Realism sits next to the symbolic sensation of this given situation.
The late working nights and chronic insomnia has altered my health significantly to the extent it is finally time to take a break, decompress. While the body is at rest, the brain’s capacity to restructure neural pathways is unprecedented, memories and complex emotions are processed at a different chemical rate than when we are awake. I’m only in week two of this leave, but regular sleep has reconnected me with a sense of agency over my own thoughts, in contrast to the reigning loops of habitual patterns.
I’ve been applying for librarian positions that might take me away from Vancouver, and sometimes it feels like I’m about to hit the edge and stick my head through the firmament. Other times I just want to stay still and breath in all the complex notes, the rosy and the shit, the fake and the real. A lot can change in a short bout of time and so much can stay the same in a long, forlorn stretch. The PLG of Vancouver collective members often joke about what kind of librarians, archivists, information sorcerers these disparate experiences engender. Sporadic and insecure employment does beget the difficulty of identifying with the roles we’ve been taught to take on. Whatever it has produced, at least amongst friends and comrades, there is a consensus and the fortunate relief of shared affective bonds.