Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Until we are as children ...

There is something fascinating about the current economy, whose primary growth sectors -- construction, finance, and entertainment -- have an uncanny relationship to children's games. Construction is just building with blocks; finance resembles nothing so much as the imaginary economy of a make-believe store, where phantom money is used to purchase ghost items; and what is the entertainment business but play-acting? It is interesting that the boom in construction has been limited to residences (i.e., unproductive space), the boom in finance has primarily come from trading (unproductive exchange), and theater is so completely separated from its didactic roots that it is considered part of the "entertainment" industry.

Contrast our contemporary industries with the coal mines of the nineteenth century or the assembly lines of the twentieth -- who would mistake the primary activities of those centuries for a schoolyard game? As we talk about the infantilization and narcissism of contemporary culture, it is difficult not to note that the entire economy is constructed around child's play, and, given the alternatives, maybe that isn't such a bad thing.

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