As we drove out of the town she began to laugh and gestured to a manger housing a Virgin Mary. Upon asking she explained to me that the manger, as I had called it, was locally referred to as ‘Our lady of the Bathtub.’ What I had considered a purposely built shelter was actually a repurposed claw-foot bathtub that was now half buried in the front yard to protect the saintly statue from the elements. She explained it used to be a considered a status symbol. The locals who were doing well enough to renovate their bathrooms could upgrade to a new plastic bath and had no use for the old metal one. In essence, they showed their wealth by making an object of function into an object of admiration.
The cottage’s library is home to a copy of Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi’s book, The Soul at Work- from Alienation to Autonomy (2009.) The book catalogues the myriad of ways workers have been manipulated to work more for less. Berardi also describes the effects of such a state and the ramshackle remedies presently prescribed to ameliorate them. Berardi mentions:
The more time we spend acquiring means for consumption, the less time we have to enjoy the world available to us. The more we invest our nervous energies in the acquisition of purchasing power, the less we can invest them in enjoying ourselves. It is around this issue- completely ignored by economic discourse- that the question of happiness and unhappiness in hyper-capitalistic societies is played out today. In order to have more economic power (more money, more credit) it is necessary to devote more and more to socially homologated labor. This means though that it becomes necessary to reduce the time for joy and experience, in a word, for life.