Temenos: City Under the Skin

From the Temple of the City Machine    Monolgue III

The Winged Worker speaks of labor


 Work was the moral penance laid on Adam and Eve for defiling the Garden of Eden. It was supposed to be Paradise, but how much leisure can one person enjoy? An eternity of pretty flowers, gourmet lunches and chatting to very happy animals. I always thought that Eve got bored, she wanted to know things, she wanted a bit of excitement and there was Adam in a loin cloth and perfect pecs, playing jungle gym with the animals. How much of that can one woman take?


Every creature on this fragile planet works, they hunt, they mate, they survive, that is the nature of their work. When I make something with my hands, when I plant a garden, fix the shed, the car, whatever, my hands are happy. They want to work, so, unfortunately, does my mind. When I watch women work I know they share a secret, they understand something about the grammar of labour, you can watch an older woman cook, what does she know, what wisdom is in the pot, what exactly is she cooking up? When I watch an older man working with wood, his hands are sculpting something I can’t quite recognize, but I know the power of those hands, there’s some old mystery there.


Work is not supposed to be about joy. That’s the rule. And the real problem isn’t about work at all, it’s about money. Because if you don’t work for money then you’re really not working at all, we all know that. And the more opaque your work is, the less you can see its tangible results, its impact on the world, then it follows that you’re doing something really important. If there’s no sweat on your brow and you know the language of privilege and exclusion then you qualify for the new order of the Priesthood. You’ll be attached to a mobile phone with one hand and drive a Porsche with the other.


You need to meet Eve very badly. But of course you don’t have time. Work devours time, wealth devours your vitality and work is a job in a glass and chrome tower where the air is conditioned and the soft hum and whir of the computer is the ambience of your unconscious, sleep is the gift of a King and dreams belongs to Dolphins and other lower life forms. Your body is a machine and you work it in the gym, because the meat of being human has its own special demands and if you were a machine you’d really be much happier. The shadow of all the Eves in your life lingers somewhere but you know she is difficult and the Tree of Knowledge is a dangerous delusion and you really don’t want to go there. Work is about money and prestige and being ahead of the pack. There is no joy in your hands.


Only it doesn’t have to be like that. Look upward, the sky is pure, dark, open. You can chart the path of the moon, the journey of planets and stars. Then bend down and touch the earth. And as you touch, you may remember something you’ve forgotten.


Convocation of The Members of the Board

From a Performance at the A.N.U School of Arts