The Humble Rebellion of the Everyday

Monday, January 27th, 2014 by lasu9006

Crary’s 24/7 makes me want to live in the woods. It makes me want to escape to a place untouched by technology, to a place where there is no Internet or Netflix (gasp!), to a place where, if I want to play Solitaire, I’ll need an actual deck of cards. But, for now, I will continue to live in this buzzing city, will continue to attend graduate school, will continue to participate in society.

While I agree with many that Crary has done little to suggest any actual remedies to the problems facing our contemporary, capitalist society, I am quite enthralled with the solutions he does suggest, because as far as I can tell, those solutions entail doing nothing much at all. How intriguing!

In particular, I have been thinking a lot about the notion of the everyday, a notion that Crary describes as “the vague constellation of spaces and times outside what was organized and institutionalized around work, conformity, and consumerism” (70). Not too long ago, the everyday was a relatively fixed part of life. Now, of course, it’s nearly impossible to detach from the constant onslaught of technologized manipulation that we encounter on our portable devices and in our television sets. In fact, corporations and political entities do their best to suppress the remnants of the everyday, to eradicate the time spent on individuated decision-making and unmediated introspection (40).

If there is one suggestion that I can take away from Crary’s text, it is that the individual must take great care to preserve those fragmentary moments of the quotidian, to maintain the private (for now) experience of internal contemplation and reflection, and, of course, to continue to enjoy the phenomenon of sleep. For these moments of temporary disconnection allow us to be human, to just be, to experience the limitations of our humanity. Furthermore, the everyday, while seemingly innocuous, is, at its root, rebellious, because it implies a momentary withdrawal from society, from consumerism. In fact, the everyday can be seen as downright dangerous because of its uneventfulness—it is  “both unconcealed and unperceived;” it is beyond the gaze of the empowered (70).

I’m going to try to turn over a new leaf. I’m going to try to relish in moments of the quotidian, to put down my goddamned phone when I’m waiting in line at the post office. I’m going to try to just sit and think, like I used to as a kid, instead of letting my phone do the thinking for me.

Of course, there are limitations to this humble form of rebellion. Like the escapism that I considered in the beginning of my post, the preservation of the everyday really only works on the level of the individual. But isn’t that what’s so great about it? That only you can experience it, and that it doesn’t need a hash tag slapped on it in order for it to count? I think so. I’m going to close my laptop now and am going to sit and watch the snowflakes fall. 

-Lauren 

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4 comments on “The Humble Rebellion of the Everyday

  1. dparker90 says:

    I’ve been trying to do the same thing after reading Crary’s text – it definitely clued me in to how I’m scarily “connected” 24/7. But, if both our solutions are to retreat to private individual life, isn’t this problematized by the fact that our entire notion of privacy and subjectivity come from the concept of “private property” within the 18th century’s burgeoning capitalist economy? This is probably coming from me having just read a bunch of Locke, but I’m not sure if seeking privacy or individualized existence in fact works against the system we’re trying to resist. Maybe the solution is community life?

  2. Deven, I totally agree. I was at first persuaded to Lauren’s inclination to withdrawal and nurture a private life, op-out, as it were, but then I think one cannot stop there. Crary puts forth a being-together ontology that isn’t wholly private because isn’t the privately connected life the root of the problem? He stresses the community of sleepers that exists before we actually fall asleep––the period of lying in bed and going over your thoughts, thinking of others perhaps. There’s a way in which we individually disconnect from our technologies and begin to reimagine community as uncontaminated by the neoliberal notion of privatization.

  3. Lori Emerson says:

    Lauren, I thought this was a beautiful post – I’ve long been interested in thinking through the redemptiveness of the everyday. If you haven’t already, you might like to read Stanley Cavell – a philosopher who was at Harvard for many years and has written on the ordinary and the everyday as an antidote to rationalism and analytical philosophy. I like that you picked up on this aspect of Crary’s work that’s not especially obvious.

  4. contromal says:

    Lauren, I love your post. I have really been trying to be aware of my “disconnected” moments. I’ve been wrestling with the idea of “real connection.” I am not sure I want to suggest that technology distracts or diminishes genuineness of experience… but I never feel more “in the moment” than when I am doing some sort of physical activity outside with a friend (hiking, running, walking, etc.) and talking. I’m trying to work through how these moments escape or is essential to the “everyday” and the pervasiveness of 24/7.

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