A conversation came up about Dialectic of Enlightenment and I found myself stumbling over some of the basic threads of Frankfurt School thinking. Rationalized labor does make you stupid, even when the labor itself requires smarts; it makes you forget everything else you’ve ever understood, focusing instead on abstract tasks that somehow degenerate into infinite repetition in spite of themselves, no matter how varied each instance is — a kind of conceptual simulacra. It is all numbers and lists and checkboxes. Things are either helpful to you while you work and between work episodes, or they are unhelpful and annoying; goals and tasks and breaks become The Goal and The Task and The Break and they are the only things — everything else does not exist, is written out of consciousness and history and meaning.
You are ruthlessly oppressed by nothing in particular, short of the fundamental worldview that rationalized labor adopts and through which it works.
That, I suppose, is the basic thread of Dialectic of Enlightenment, in a sideways sort of way.
I can’t get back to academics soon enough.