REVIEW OF “THE WORLD OWES YOU A LIVING” (from 2003)
This essay was originally published in the USBIG NewsFlash in October 2003.
A few years ago on April 1, a New York public radio station did an interview with a woman who wrote books entirely by downloading bits and pieces of other people’s writing from the internet. That interview was an April Fool’s Day joke, but as any post-modern artist or Hip Hop DJ can tell you, it is quite possible to do something that’s new and creative by piecing together bits of already existing material. And that is exactly what Vancouver audio-author Matt Fair has done with his new audio production, “The World Owes You a Living.” The audacious title is a reference to a Brian Mulroney speech complaining some “Canadians, and there are a lot of them, who believe the world owes them a living.” Matt Fair spent years collecting audio clips, mostly from the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and splicing them together in a way to make Mulroney’s lecturing of the poor look ridiculous.
This work does not pretend to be an academic inquiry and does not contain a single line of argumentation from premise to conclusion; ideas come and go, and most of the quotes are unattributed. It is instead a strong artistic statement in favor of the basic income guarantee. It slides from topic to topic, juxtaposing for example, society’s desire to punish criminals with the market’s ability to punish nonconformists. Statistics of the growing prison population, come up next to an employment consultant saying, “You’d better be prepared to take any job that’s available or the market will punish you.” Although the author claims no direct influence from Rap music, he uses sampling techniques common to Hip Hop as the consultant returns saying, “punish you, punish you, punish you,” between statistics on poverty or homelessness.
The audio production is about seven hours long and is sold in a six CD set. It would make an excellent radio program, but if you’re interested in the CD’s they are available on the web at: