material conditions

Posted: November 26, 2015 in katja rudolph
Tags: , , , ,



Flashlight, doesn’t work. Pencil sharpener, doesn’t work. Salad dressing jar with stirring device, doesn’t work. Too inexpensive to warrant returning. Gas, time, et cetera. Garbage. Garbage can, doesn’t work. I step on the lid-opening pedal, and the lid doesn’t open. It sticks. I bang on the lid, then kick it. It rolls across the kitchen, makes a dent in the drywall. It still doesn’t work. I throw all of the above, including garbage can, in a box and put it on the curb.

You’d pay me less, but then you’d go to jail. So you pay me the least possible, according to the law. New opportunities for profitable investment, this is what you are waiting for. While you wait, you suffocate in goods you cannot sell. I suffocate in goods that don’t work. I have stopped making goods and am now making administration and service. They, over there somewhere, are making strange little items out of shiny, colorful plastic with multiple moving pieces that will, upon arrival, not work.

Sunglasses, don’t work either. One lens is darker than the other, causing dizziness and inability to see what’s out there. What is out there? Me, you, they, a planet, but: is it working?

Your cookie, post-meal at the upscale Chinese restaurant in the cosmopolis, tells you that great fortune comes to those who take advantage of the combination of substantial dislocations and greater ability to produce at scale. Lucky you!


Katja Rudolph’s  novel Little Bastards in Springtime  was nominated for the 2015 Evergreen Award. It’s about a refugee fleeing war. Though it takes place in the mid-90s, it’s tragically topical. Katja lives in Toronto with her people and is at work on her third book. Her second, The Year, is epic in length and scope and is being edited. Do you like a long read? Katja does.

She can be found at and @katjarudolph



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  1. Alice says:

    Well, this works!


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