Welcome to the Machine: Why call this place davidgraeber.industries?

NOTES FROM DISGRUNTLED DAVIDGRAEBER.INDUSTRIES MAINTENANCE STAFF

from Luigi Serafini’s Codex Seraphinianus. Might the emitted vapours be beneficial?

It has come to my attention that this institution’s name inspires controversy: davidgraeber.industries.

Perhaps it reminds people of industrial capitalism: Little hands crushed in demonic gears churning out units of “content.”

Let us assure you, this is no normal industrial undertaking. This factory charges no money & gives everything away! And its name was enthusiastically chosen by David himself. (From a page of search results I sent him.)

When he saw “davidgraeber.industries,” he immediately knew it was the right choice. As did I, when he told me. So I didn’t think to question it. Now I must attempt to explain our intuitions, unable to ask David.

First, let’s clear our minds with a little mental exercise. David advocated “charitable interpretations”: If something looks bad, perhaps you can add something to make it look good. And if you want David-level imagination (after all, your mind is no less valuable than his!), this is good practice: turn bad things into good by imaginatively adding something.

So what are some charitable ways to interpret “industries”?

Well, imagine yourself as David: a neurotic workaholic busting his ass for decades writing books & occupying things. You might be forgiven for being rather pleased at your fleet of works. Assembled as a result of your stubborn child-like industriousness, madly scribbling & exploring where you’re not supposed to.

And in a slightly different world, couldn’t “industry” mainly just build tools for human liberation? Free us from drudgery & amplify our imaginations? (Unlike this world, where “industry” is a Rube Goldberg contraption to transform Earth to be more amusingly Venus-like.)

After all, David saw possibilities. Which means he often lived in alternate possible worlds—likely experiencing this world as their dull shadow.

Consider his favourite desert-island book (circa 2005): Stanisław Lem’s “The Cyberiad.” It doesn’t depict emotionless factories—but rather conscious & creative factories understandably annoyed by their obnoxious STEM Lord creators.

Or maybe we could scroll through his beloved Codex Seraphinianus (with a warm cocoa?) to imagine what “industry” could mean.


By the way, there’s a seperate-but-related-question: Why did we make this website in the first place? There’s actually an odd story behind it! But that story can wait for another day.