Monday, December 12, 2005

Work and Love, Part the Second

I realized how deeply elitist Part the First was when I reread it. It assumes that people can afford childcare, that it's an option present for everyone. My mother, and Noelle, and a good many people, are lucky. I'm aware that not everybody has this opportunity, that as often as not young children are passed from hand to hand within extended families, that numbers of my close friends were home alone at the age of six and completely fine. Yet my mind for this topic remained in my childhood paradigm, wherein everyone whose two parents worked had a baby-sitter, and the parents had the luxury of choice about who that baby-sitter was.

Oy, sometimes I embarrass myself.

I'm trying to figure out if that effects what I said about work and love, about one needing to become the other. Voigt, I believe, would say that it doesn't. The Tillermans in her books, everyone in her books, struggle(s) for money; I think that's part of the point she's making. Dicey's been in need, one way or another, for most of her life, but in the first book, Homecoming, she finds that her struggle has come to something, that she has found a new home with her grandmother for herself and her siblings. The love in her house, the love in her life, makes the work worth it, means there's something to work for, and thus the work becomes the love. That's the thesis of Seventeen Against the Dealer, too, that work needs to be for something that matters to you, to make a life that matters to you. And as Voigt would have it, that isn't luxury. It's luck to some degree, Dicey says so, but the books are also all about making your own luck, your own best circumstances, out of the parts that are inevitable. Everybody in the Tillerman Cycle has been hurt, weathered, by the world and by their own circumstances. They've worked at making their place in the world not only existent, but comfortable. They do that through having work and loving that work, and working at love.

In some ways, that makes both the books and myself sound awfully conservative--pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and so forth. But that isn't the point Voigt's trying to make, nor am I. There are as many people who haven't had to work and aren't happy, and aren't full of love, and the point is really that love is labor. Even if you're spoiled in certain ways, as my oversight in the previous post made clear that I have been, as some of the characters in the Tillerman Cycle are--be it financial or otherwise--it's labor that makes love, that thereby becomes love. If you don't recognize love as something you have to work at, if you don't recognize labor as something you can love, then that's your true loss in the world.

This, I believe, is the point at which I should bring in Karl Marx. He's clearly got a great deal to say about this concept, the alienation of labor on a greater scale versus the pride and need of the craftsman. This goes back to another interesting debate between R-boogie and myself, one about larger and smaller social structures and what's worth saving and preserving in large ones in particular. And I'm not sure I can do that right now, though I plan to at some point soon. I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on how Marx comes into this mix.


Post a Comment

<< Home