Precarité • 21 May 2008


If you would be pungent, be brief; for it is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.   

-Robert Southey

My brother’s first installation piece was a humungus white vaguely-sexual paper lamp pieced together with papier-mache and maverick wiring chops. It was terrible and mesmerizing and completely improbable, and may still glow in a young people’s art collective in the San Juan Islands.

You’d walk in on it, in a room, and feel like you were accidenting on something not decent and not at all legal, this ramshackle orb somehow suspended and glowing and strangely not yet setting fire to itself.

That’s when the artist’s favorite word was awkward.

The piece is named Precarious.

Now I study the sociology of work and labor, and the French labor economists are only lefties I can find in a discipline full of people who have forgotten that markets foster exploitation and run on inequality (rather than being just amazing coordinating mechanisms, which they are also). Their word for life on the margins: precarité. Check it out

EPB is precarious.

Not strength.