Styx - Too Much Time on My Hands

Too Much Time on My Hands?

Continuing our theme of using Cultural Ecology 2017 to speculate on nine big questions about the future of life in the Anthropocene. Question #7: How has industrial and post-industrial capitalism shaped our notions of time? Will anyone ever again have “too much time on my hands”?

The two readings are

  • Tim Ingold, “Work, time and industry” (323-338) in The Perception of the Environment
  • Anna Tsing pp.55-96 in The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

The reading can of course be accompanied by the classic 1981 Styx debut of “Too Much Time on My Hands”:

As well as the shot-by-shot 2016 remake from Jimmy Fallon and Paul Rudd:

And for an April 2017 update see “You’re Too Busy. You Need a ‘Shultz Hour'” by David Leonhardt in the New York Times

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  • Allyson Quirk

    A quote from Ingold’s reading that stuck out to me was on page 328 and read, “with the rise and maturation of industrial capitalist society, the task-oriented time of pre-industrial rural and urban life was gradually replaced by a regulation of production governed by the clock.” Therefore, it seems that people are always scrambling for more time. In my opinion, so many people are more focused on being as productive as possible and begging for more hours in a day. On the opposite end of the spectrum, may people seem to waste their time, not valuing it, but most people that surround me and the people I look up to are definitely focused on making the most out of every hour. In today’s society, people tend to focus on making every second count (YOLO???). I think this is an amazing thing for our society, as people that thrive on being productive really amp up the world we live in. On pages 323 and 323, Ingold talks about the clock controlling industrial workers. I like this idea because although we use clocks to shape how much work we do, and how much we can produce in an hour, he states how even while following the movements of the clock, our bodies are not turned into pieces of clockwork. Although the hands of a clock are ticking, that doesn’t mean our own hands are working at the same, fluid pace.

  • Emma Leavell

    Over the last 200 years, the world’s industrial progress has grown exponentially. There have been many beneficial tradeoffs, as well as some negative tradeoffs that come with industrialization. One of these negative tradeoffs that Ingold and Tsing touch on is the incentives for people to actually work. Capitalism has changed the notion of working and the reason for working. Incorporating the idea of time, we view work as the more time we put in, the more money one makes. Here, time can be seen as a commodity (328). Our current buying habits (especially in America) control us to a point that we believe the more wealth one has, the better their life. Hence, the modern working person must spend an unhealthy amount of time focused on working, focused on getting the most time. We also relate a lot of money with having more power, which is why the industrial revolution put America as one of the top countries in terms of trade and GDP during this time. From this, we have learned to follow and listen to a clock, “But with the rise of capitalist industry, so the theory goes, the person is withdrawn from the core to the margins of the labour process, and hence also the time inherent personal experience and social life is disembedded from the time of work or production” (328). Having “free time” is a term we have related to being one with ourself and not being bothered with what we are paid to do on a daily basis. Money keeps us in this regime, but also makes us dread working if we feel we are not making enough of it.

  • Jessica Wilson

    Will anyone ever again have “too much time on my hands”?

    The modern capitalist global economy has immersed us in the idea that time is money. Because of this, type A personalities are preferred. We stress ideas like time management and productivity. Even college majors have become a commodity– business, law, and medical majors are seen with great prestige, while art and theater majors are laughed at. This fast paced and profit conscious economy, where investment and accumulation of wealth is at the center of all activity (Tsing p62). Chains like Walmart (as mentioned by Tsing) and other discount chains following similar models rise to power because consumers see it as the total package; they get lower prices, and errands completed in half the time, which in turn gives them extra time to do something else with a greater return (investment). These businesses recognize this environment and capitalize on the fact that the average Western consumer is always rushing. This then creates the salvage capitalism that Tsing discusses (p.64). Therefore, even the remote places of the world that are seemingly removed from capitalism are in fact not free of capitalism because they are being salvaged for their raw materials and cheap/forced labor to fit the model stated above. The modern economy is a bit of a paradox. Everything can be done at incredibly fast speeds, yet we still feel as if we have no free time; there’s always something to do, buy, or pay. We have made time equivalent to money, and for as long as their is no such thing as too much wealth, there will be no such thing as too much time.

  • Otelia

    Will anyone ever again have “too much time on my hands”?

    We live in an age where everything is always on the move, even when we are relaxing we check our emails on our phones and check our Facebook feed. There never seems to be enough time for everything. In western society time equals money, but this is not so for every society. “The Nuer have no expression equivalent to ‘time’ in our language, and they cannot, therefore, speak of time as though it were something which passes, can be wasted, saved, and so forth” (Evans-Pritchard, in Ingold: 324). The Nuer do not have to deal with the constraints of precise times and dates, therefore they might enjoy their daily activities in a more laid back pace. Their are other cultures that use ways of describing time by their daily routines. “In Madagascar, ‘rice cooking’ often means half an hour, ‘the frying of a locust’ a moment” (Nilson in Ingold: 325). But unlike other societies we equate time with money, and we have an obsession with making more money. Technology is a large part of the reason we don’t have much time on our hands, and technology will continue to advance and we will possibly experience an even further decrease of leisure time. According to B. Bonin Bough, 5.1 million people own phones which is a larger number than those who own toothbrushes. I thought this was very fascinating, it’s a sort of embodiment of the minds of our modern world. Technology has now become more important to “us” than something like hygiene. With technology we are constantly consuming, we are just one touch away from ordering that really cool pair of headphones, or that signed poster that we “reaaallllyy need” right from our phones. “The phrase ‘time is money’, with its implication that time is something that can be spent or saved, used profitably or wastefully, hoarded or squandered, is a product, then, of the commodification of labour that accompanied the rise of industrial capitalism” (Ingold: 328)

  • Safay Johnson

    Will anyone ever have “too much time on their hands again”?

    According to information mentioned by Ingold in chapter seventeen, I do not think that anyone will ever have times on their hands again as a result of how our understanding of time has been molded by both industrial and post industrial capitalism. Prior to industrial capitalism, time was perceived as “inseparable from everyday round of activities round of activities” (Ingold, 324), therefore although hunter gathers did not have an actual clock, they judged the passage of time through their daily task. The significance of the activity was not determined by the time it took to complete but instead the importance of time was measured by the completion of the activity. Within post-industrial capitalist societies there has been a “separation between the domains of ‘work’ and ‘social life'” which is a “formal entailment of the logic of capitalist production” (Ingold, 326). Capitalism forces people to divide their time between time and leisure activities, the division plays heavy emphasis on time instead of work and social life. The determination of whether it is time to labor or to enjoy life is done by the clock. I do not think that a person will ever have the option of having too much time on their hands because the notion of time being either work time or fun time defines every moment. It’s either we are using our labor (whether is physical or mental) or we aren’t using

  • Zachary Whitenack

    How has industrial capitalism shaped our notions of time?

    Much like Styx said, “it’s t-t-t-t-ticking away,” but I think what Ingold is trying to say throughout this chapter is that our perception of how time ticks away (both on ourselves and others) are derived from our contextual positioning within a western industrial world. These notions we hold produce such things as task-orienting theory in which “[…] generally in the pre-industrial world, time is inseparable from the everyday round of activities” (p. 324). This distinction between Us and Themis not applied to us because we have the differences between living and working, or as ingold puts it: “between what we do, and what we are caused to do” (p. 326). We establish a hierarchy and scale to our notions of time, giving ourselves more distinctions to “social life” when in reality we do not have “too much time on our hands”

  • Nadja

    In chapter four, Tsing discusses capitalism as a system for concentrated wealth and how capitalist have created this idea of salvage. “Salvage that is, taking advantage of value produced without capitalist control” (pg. 63). This answers the question of how industrial and post industrial has shaped our notions of time. It shows how capitalism has created money hungry people who will abuse the system to get what they want. To answer the question on having too much time on our hands, I don’t think there is such a think of having too much time on our hands. Time is a valuable source and its very limiting. So like someone mentioned below, time is money, and we must use our time wisely because we don’t have much of it.

  • Meagan Wright

    Is there too much time on my hands? Is it even possible?

    “For work is life, and any distinctions one might make within the course of life would be not between work and non-work, but between different fields of activity, such as farming, cooking, child-minding, weaving, and so on” (Ingold, 324). With this, we see that since we know that work is life, then what is life without work? Which leads to the next question of, is there always time on my hands if I am living this life that I chose for myself? Though ingold tells us there theres a distinction between what we do and what we are caused to do, it goes hand in hand with what we chose to do and what comes along with just that. So ultimately, though time is structured around how many hours are in the day to work, is the same as saying how long is it possible that I can work. Glass half full or half empty. So I agree with Allison in that, if you are someone who is going to make the most out of what they do everyday, then they are going to do just that. Time is a perception, and it’s a matter of if you feel fulfilled or unfulfilled at the end of day.

  • Jasmin Werbenjagermanjensen Lo

    Will anyone have too much time on their hands?
    Ingold says “In traditional societies, time is intrinsic to tasks, and if tasks are the technically
    skilled activities of particular persons with particular social identities, then it must
    follow that there can be no real distinction between work and social life, and moreover
    that time is the movement or flow that inheres equally in both.”(Ingold,325) he continues to pose the question ” What kind of time is this, that is thus inherent in the taskscape?”(Ingold,325).By this Ingold is saying that in society time is essential to task and that because tasks are just activities people do there is no difference between social and working life, and that time flows equally in both. So to answer the question will anyone have too much time on their hands I would say no because time doesn’t flow in a way that would imply one situation will have more of it than another situation.

  • Marzipan

    I was particularly intrigued by Tsing’s exploration of “freedom”, which is necessary if we are to translate between the many cultures and economies involved in matsutake trades (70). Actually, Tsing decides that the mushroom trade is more about an exchange of freedom performances than an exchange of mushrooms and money (75). “Freedom emerges from open-ended cultural interplay, full of potential conflict and misunderstanding… [it] is the negotiation of ghosts on a haunted landscape” (“Ghosts in this sentence seem to be the unsaid/cryptic perspectives and histories of people involved and the confusing forms of power that result.) (76). Of course, mitsutake trading is free in that it is not “standard employment” (77) and it often disregards land/property regulations (78-80). “Market freedom enters freedom’s jumble, making the holding in abeyance of concentrated power, labor, property, and alienation seem strong and effective” (80). Tsing remarks, near the end of Chapter 5, that “competition and independence mean freedom for all” (82), and she points out two circumstances that allow for the “market mechanisms” based on this attitude, one of which is popular allowance for different “psychologies” (83). Tsing spends Chapter 6 exploring these psychologies, many of which revolve around war or hunting and some of which revolve around health problems/incapacities or criminal records. Tsing concludes that “among commercial mitsutake pickers in Oregon, freedom is a “boundary object,” that is, a shared concern that yet takes on many meanings and leads in varied directions” (94). Each of the “historical currents” Tsing explores “mobilizes the practice of picking mushrooms as the practice of freedom. Thus without any corporate recruitment, training, or discipline, mountains of mushrooms are gathered and shipped to Japan” (94).

  • Marley Vil

    How has industrial and post-industrial capitalism shaped our notions of time?
    I think a quote on page 62 in Tsing, “Factors owners concentrate wealth by paying workers less than the value of goods that the workers produce each other. Owners “accumulate” investment assets from this valve. Even in factories, however, there other elements of accumulation. In the nineteenth century, when capitalism first became an object of inquiry, raw materials were imagined as an infinite bequest from Nature to Man. Raw materials can no longer be granted. In our food procurement system, for example, capitalists exploit ecologist not only by reshaping them but also by taking advantage of their processes outside their control, such as photosynthesis and animal digestion. In capitalist farms, living things within ecological processes are co-opted for the concentration of wealth. In our time now, we’ve become driven to just make as much money as possible.

  • Madison Turcotte

    To answer this question, I focused on Ingold’s chapter 17 where he uses the example of “the domain of householding” (330) and the idea of the housewife. He says that for the housewife, she “used to enjoy no division between work and leisure” (330). Housewives have a “multitude of tasks” to perform within the household that constantly keep them busy. I gold then contrats this to the industrial worker saying that housewives are in command of their own working capacity; even though the work is necessary and unavoidable, it wasn’t “done under external imposition” (330). Therefore, the housewife and her sense of time correlates to the “rise of industrial capitalism with a one-way transition from task-oriented to clock time” (331). Ingold refers to Thompson’s quote in which he states that “the mother of young children has an imperfect sense of time and attends to other human tides. She has not yet altogether moved out of the conventions of “pre-industrial” society” (331).

  • Sean Tucker

    How has industrial and post – Industrial capitalism shape our notion of time? Will anyone ever again have “too much time on my hand”?
    As industrial capitalism began so did the concept of being on the clock. Being on the clock refers to the number of hours a person is working. The more hours a person works the more money they can obtain. This idea of being on the clock longer makes you more money led to the invention of the phrase “time is money”. This term implies that time not making money is time wasted. “So much time yields so much money, and time spent in idleness is equivalent to so much money lost” (328 Ingold). The idea of this quote is to emphasize that if you are not using your time to make money then you are losing money every second you’re not working. In order to live in this world you need money and if you’re not working to gain more money you are losing money just by living. Although I believe this statement to be true, when it comes to the question of “will anyone ever again have “too much time on my hand”? My answer is yes and no. No, because I believe that people will always lose money if they are not working as the quote say and yes because there are those in this world that can afford leisure and those who have a lot of free time. These people are usually those who Ingold mentions on the bottom of page 326, that have the power and money to rent labor power for their companies and etc. Since these people can make exponentially more money than the people renting their labor to them and time equals money, then they would have a lot of time if money equals time. Of course this doesn’t mean that the rich and the wealthy have too much time on their hands, but they do have a lot more than working class.