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The Subsumption of Everyday Labor: A Tiqqun / Harry Braverman Cut Up

I found myself in a slightly curved street, in the city outskirts where I live. And something was there, strangely, instead of something else that wouldn’t have caught my memories — this thing that shouldn’t have been there. There was a large window above an immaculately shined, far-too-new placard, affixed to the wall; on that placard, in rigid letters, the word “BAKERY” was written. Through the window you could see a few display shelves resembled those that are often used to display pastries or some sickening cake or another, display shelves doubtless placed there to perfect its confusion with familiar places; but I wasn’t duped. I was all the less fooled since their enthusiasm had gone beyond the believable. There, planted behind those phantom display shelves, perfectly immobile, standing in a expectant position, was the baker! The baker… in her white apron.

“Ms., We know full well, don’t we, that all this is nothing but an absurd practical joke. Continuous mixing, reduction of brew fermentation time, dough which is metered, extruded, divided and panned to the accuracy of a centegram in the pound, conveyorized baking an automatic depanning, and cooling long ago replaced the baker with engineers on the one hand and  factory operatives on the other. You’re not really a baker, this isn’t a bakery, and how absurd it would be for me to play the customer. The speed with which the operation is conducted is a marvel of efficiency, and apart from its effects on the worker, if it were not necessary for people to consume the “product,” the whole thing would be considered a resounding success. The age of playing commodity has passed; let’s speak frankly and forget all this frightful decor, which fools no one… I don’t know how you found yourself in this strange situation – so tell me, what’s all this about?”

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