24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep

“24/7 announces a time without time, a time extracted from any material or identifiable demarcations, a time without sequence or recurrence. In its peremptory reductiveness, it celebrates a hallucination of presence, of an unalterable permanence composed of incessant, frictionless operations. It belongs to the aftermath of a common life made into the object of technics.

In spite of its insubstantiality and abstraction as a slogan, the implaca­bility of 24/7 is its impossible temporality. It is always a reprimand and a deprecation of the weakness and inadequacy of human time, with its blurred, meandering textures. It effaces the relevance or value of any respite or variability.

If 24/7 can be provisionally conceptualized as an order­ word, its force is not as a demand for actual compliance or conformity to its apodictic format. Rather, the effectiveness of 24/7 lies in the incompatibility it lays bare, in the discrepancy between a human life-world and the evocation of a switched­ on universe for which no off-switch exists. Of course, no individual can ever be shopping, gaming, working, blogging, downloading, or texting 24/7. However, since no moment, place, or situation now exists in which one can not shop, consume, or exploit networked resources, there is a relentless incursion of the non-time of 24/7 into every aspect of social or personal life.

As an announcement of its absolute unliveability, 24/7 is comprehensible in terms of this two-sidedness. It not only incites in the individual subject an exclusive focus on getting, having, winning, gawking, squandering, and deriding, but is fully interwoven with mechanisms of control that maintain the superfluousness and powerlessness of the subject of its demands.”

Jonathan Crary

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