By Filip Vostal (auth.)
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Additional resources for Accelerating Academia: The Changing Structure of Academic Time
Another component of the ethical critique aims to develop a variant of the critical phenomenology of acceleration. Adding a temporal perspective to Marx’s concept of alienation, Rosa develops an argument maintaining that social acceleration ‘is about certain thresholds beyond which human beings necessarily become alienated not just from their actions, the objects they work and live, nature, the social world and their selves, but also from time and space themselves’ (Rosa 2010a: 83). The self-world relationship and our spatial ‘localization’ are distorted due to Thematizing Acceleration 25 the annihilation of time by space.
We are unable to ‘appropriate time’. We engage, according to Rosa, in short-term activities and experiences that are rigorously isolated from each other. Drawing on Walter Benjamin, Rosa says that ‘episodes of experience’ are replacing ‘experiences which leave a mark, which connect to, or are relevant for, our identity and history; experiences which touch or change who we are’ (Rosa 2010a: 94–95). All this leads to a severe form of self-alienation where acceleration leads to the disintegration and erosion of commitment: ‘We fail to integrate our episodes of action and experience (and 26 Accelerating Academia the commodities we acquire) to the whole of life, and consequently, we are increasingly detached, or disengaged, from the times and spaces of our life, from our actions and experiences, and from the things we live and work with’ (Rosa 2010a: 96).
The new individual should be trained and shaped ‘so that he can do (at his fastest pace and with maximum of efficiency) the highest class of work for which his natural abilities fit him’ (1967: 12). Great prosperity, according to Taylor, can exist for all, in so far as each man and each machine are producing the largest possible outputs. In this sense under-work or slow work was considered ‘the greatest evil’ (1967: 14). In this context, slowness and inefficiency have a moral undertone. This aspect also implicitly refers to the ‘protestant ethic and the spirit 42 Accelerating Academia of capitalism’, famously theorized by Max Weber that, according to the protestant logic, ‘waste of time is … the first and in principle the deadliest of sins.