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STUPID UNDERGROUNDS - MANN
Day Job - Page 41

dialectically: although one suffers at the master's hands, although one's very humanity is denied, history is on the side of the worker no less than on that of the Hegelian slave; if wage slavery is oppressive, degrading, destructive of everything that it means to be human, it is also ennobling insofar as the truth seized from this alienation informs a struggle against the power it represents. The immersion of the artist in the world of common labor was thus both an indictment of a society that steals time from the true mission and real work, and a means by which day job and real work came into another sort of relation that the wealthy and the dropout could not possibly express. But the compromises of this division could not be so neatly resolved. One continued to hope for future resolution, for a life of art; or one abandoned art and lived its imaginary and no less painful loss; or one tried to accept one's divided condition through some kind of self-hypnosis, through the image of a resignation one was persuaded to identify as maturity;29 or one turned the struggle itself into the subject matter of a series of neocritical art commodities; or one "succeeded" in the artworld enough to establish some sort of sinecure (steady royalties, corporate patronage in the form of commissions, a university appoinment), under whose aegis one had to force oneself to remember that even though the labor wasn't as bad as it once was, the day was no less divided. If the working class romantic bored you with creaking cliches about the dignity of labor, if the idea of total sacrifice for one's art grew embarrassing even for those who pretended to believe it, sinecured artists, however "critical" they remained, through an ability to set aside the material conditions of their lives even in the act of seeming to account for them, bored you even more. Furthermore, the division of day job and real work, of alienated and integrated labor, frequently gave rise to another sort of collusion. The day job provided an alibi for the poverty of the so-called real work one actually managed to accomplish ("if only, if only..."), and the real work provided an alibi for slacking on the job. Failure in each was the champion of the other. The division between them also produced the fantasy, in its own way quite functional within the reigning economy, that integration is really possible, that if only we could abandon the day job fulfillment would be ours; what is concealed here is the alienation attendant upon artistic production itself, both in respect

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