Issue 3: Dictationship

The Unproductive Character

Rivers Plasketes

One day it could happen that, reflecting on one’s own life, one realizes that all of the commitments and obligations broken were due to one’s being unproductive in the face of friends and enemies alike. Everyone agrees these are the traits of a “destructive character.” The unproductive character’s failure to act against the destruction of its cohorts reveals the invisibility of administrative indifference through complacency. The heavier the distinction between the unproductive, the destructive and the destroyed, the better the chances of representing the unproductive character. The unproductive character exists not in opposition, but adjacent to the destructive character, and this in its resistance to–or complete disregard for–representational forces that address it from both above and below.

The unproductive character knows only one watchword: waste time. And only one activity: doing nothing. Its longing for time lost in the unceasing and destructive continuation of “the course of things,” is stronger than any productive desire. It seeks to emphasize the routine of the present as that time already lost, considering the victories of the present as those already established. It observes but never allows itself the indulgence of spectatorship. It is a toy and seeks only to remain so. Functional or broken, it is a toy nonetheless.

The unproductive character has no age because it is with age. Neither for, nor against youth or wisdom. It is outside of its own accumulation. Its attitude is general and adaptable; easily abstracted. It cheers on as the destructive character clears away the traces of the age in which we live, but does so with an indifference that can make it easily mistrusted. The unproductive character’s trustworthiness forms proportionately with that of the destructive character, which is only trusted by cynics precisely because of its untrustworthiness. Untrustworthiness is a form used by others to legitimize contingency. The destructive character measures all that exists by scale of being reduced to nothing; leveled into rubble; flattened. The unproductive character serves as the site of this absolute flatness, always-already at the end of the destructive character's means.

The object of the unproductive character’s labor is nothing more than preserving its own character in the face of destruction. Its ethics, or lack thereof, are calculated to the point of automation. Its alienation—though unrecognizable—lies in its inability to act out of its own accord, merely performing mediation for the destructive forces that had appointed it. The unproductive character avoids the indulgence of unnecessary innovation and embraces abstraction in order to remain faceless to anyone lacking destructive tendencies, including itself. It is a point from which all departures are rendered null. The only threat to its solace is accountability.

The unproductive character witnesses the efficacy of the destructive character, joining in the contamination of any potential action exercised by the productive character, like a spiteful leech without an appetite. The unproductive character thus neutralizes any desire for production.

The unproductive character is a continuous boundary, exposed to idle talk on all sides. To protect it from gossip is as pointless as expecting an indulgent response. The unproductive character appropriates language that is not its own and destroys it by rendering it meaningless, or culturally insignificant. The insufficient reasoning of the unproductive character mirrors the crippling nature of managerial moderation, which produces a superficial and immediate understanding of occurrences without reason, void of any meaning other than meaning itself.

The unproductive character does not seek to produce understanding, but is understood nonetheless, just as the broken object is more understood than the object that functions with high complexity. While things are expected to work, they are just as much expected not to work, after it is established that they are broken. It’s obedience to flatness protects it from the destructive cycles put forth by others. The unproductive character promotes the misunderstanding of the destructive character, but doesn’t realize that this is precisely what the destructive character expects and desires of it. The point of realization is thus a point of contradiction, which the unproductive character wears proudly.

The unproductive character has the consciousness of an idyllic statue or a broken machine whose deepest emotion is an insuperable trust that “the course of things” is to stay the same. This trust in “the course of things” is neither a trust in destruction itself, nor trust in the destroyed, but nonetheless assists the former through bureaucratic abstraction. Therefore, the unproductive character is unreliability itself, for it knows that anything and everything can go wrong at any given time, and that this will always more or less be the same. The unproductive character’s composure is never as natural as it seems, and never will it seem to be.

The unproductive character lives from the feeling not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble.