Suppose it is granted that a plongeur’s* work is more or less useless. Then the question follows, why does anyone want him to go on working? I am trying to go beyond the immediate economic cause, and to consider what pleasure it can give anyone to think of men swabbing dishes for life. For there is no doubt that people–comfortably situated people–do find a pleasure in such thoughts. A slave, Marcus Cato said, should be working when he is not sleeping. It does not matter whether his work is needed or not, he must work, because work in itself is good–for slaves, at least. This sentiment still survives, and it has piled up mountains of useless drudgery…
…I believe that this instinct to perpetuate useless work is, at bottom, simply fear of the mob. The mob (the thought runs) are such low animals that they would be too dangerous if they had leisure; it is safer to keep them too busy to think.
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London, 1933
*a plongeur is an employee of a restaurant charged with washing dishes and other tasks; in Orwell’s book it is described as extremely arduous work.
Battlefield terms such as strongpoint, advance, penetration, encirclement, envelopment, surveillance, control and supply lines migrated from the military to the civilian sphere… In the hands of Sharon, his followers and colleagues, architecture and planning were presented as a continuation of war by other means. The civilianization of military terms was to lead in turn to the militarization of all other spheres of life. War was only over because it was now everywhere.
Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation, 2008.
Violence is required to achieve the new urban world on the wreckage of the old. Haussmann tore through the old Parisian impoverished quarters, using powers of expropriation for supposedly public benefit, and did so in the name of civic improvement, environmental restoration, and urban renovation. He deliberately engineered the removal of much of the working class and other unruly elements, along with insalubrious industries, from Paris’ city center, where they constituted a threat to public order, public health and, of course, political power. He created an urban form where it was believed (incorrectly, as it turned out, in 1871) sufficient levels of surveillance and military control were possible so as to ensure that revolutionary movements could easily be controlled by military power.
David Harvey, Rebel Cities, 2012.
“It’s a new world, Frank. You should go out and spend the money on something you can touch: a new car, a new coat. It’s why we get up in the morning, no?”
Quote spoken by “the Greek” on Season 2 episode 8 of The Wire.
Le livre est ainsi: une maison où chaque fenêtre est un quartier, chaque porte une ville, chaque page est une rue; c’est une maison d’apparence, un décor de théâtre où on fait la lune avec un drap bleu pendu entre deux fenêtres et une ampoule allumée.
Tahar Ben Jelloun, L’Enfant de sable, 1985
[A book is like that: a house where each window is a quartier, each door a town, each page a street. It is a pretend house, a theatrical set where the moon is achieved with a light bulb and a blue sheet held between two windows.]