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  • THE WALKING MAN


    Konrad Wakolbinger

    Work ennobles. Work makes life sweeter. Sayings like these apodictically inscribe the principle of work into people's consciousness as the right and good thing to do. When American TV show us an example of this ideal, it is to double-down on the proliferation of the message of ‘a hero of labour’ : James Roberston – the walking man.

    For half his life James Robertson has been standing at an injection moulding machine in the pro­duc­tion hall of Schain Mold & Engi­nee­ring in a suburb of Detroit. At some point he can no longer afford to repair his car, so from then on he started walking to work — 34 miles, 5 days a week, for 10 years. Some of the distance can be covered by public bus, but the commute itself still takes him 9 hours a day.

    When he gets home at 4am, he lies down for 2 hours, then he has to start again. To keep going, Robertson runs on Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola. And on weekends he takes care of his sleep deficit.  When a banker and a student took notice of this man struggling against the elements along the streets on foot, they helped him get a new car with the aid of a crowd­fun­ding campaign. James Robertson is thrust into the spotlight, albeit briefly.

    The Detroit Free Press reported on James Robertson for the first time in February 2015.
    Robert­son’s story quickly goes viral, with tele­vi­si­on stations nati­on­wi­de reporting it. James Robertson had become the “The Walking Man.” During the course of an interview, the Fox News anchor cele­bra­tes Robertson; “I’m also proud of you. Because so many people make excuses to why they don’t go to work. You say, there were no excuses. You are the man that America is looking up to today. And we all want to be like you.”

    Elias Canetti writes in “Crowds and Power”: “On both sides of the ideo­lo­gi­cal conflict (note: capi­ta­lism and communism) pro­duc­tion is encou­ra­ged and fomented in every way. Whether one produces to sell or produces to dis­tri­bu­te, the process of this pro­duc­tion itself is not only not touched by either side, it is revered, and it is not too much to say that it has something sacred in the eyes of most today.”

    Thus James Robertson gives away his lifetime and health to a God who devours his own children. Not done with that, the US media proclaim his tale of woe as the ideal and guiding principle that supports the dogma of a religion of work, which James Roberston also believes in when he says: “I can’t imagine not working”.

    See also Adolf Hennecke — Hero of the Battle of Pro­duc­tion.

    Detroit Man Walks 21 Miles Round Trip To Work Daily | NBC News 

    James Robertson Walks 21 Miles Each Way to His Job in Detroit / ABC News 

    James Robertson, Detroit man with 21-mile walk to work gets car / WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7 

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    THE WALKING MAN

    Konrad Wakolbinger

    Work ennobles. Work makes life sweeter. Sayings like these apodictically inscribe the principle of work into people's consciousness as the right and good thing to do. When American TV show us an example of this ideal, it is to double-down on the proliferation of the message of ‘a hero of labour’ : James Roberston – the walking man.

    For half his life James Robertson has been standing at an injection moulding machine in the pro­duc­tion hall of Schain Mold & Engi­nee­ring in a suburb of Detroit. At some point he can no longer afford to repair his car, so from then on he started walking to work — 34 miles, 5 days a week, for 10 years. Some of the distance can be covered by public bus, but the commute itself still takes him 9 hours a day.

    When he gets home at 4am, he lies down for 2 hours, then he has to start again. To keep going, Robertson runs on Mountain Dew and Coca-Cola. And on weekends he takes care of his sleep deficit.  When a banker and a student took notice of this man struggling against the elements along the streets on foot, they helped him get a new car with the aid of a crowd­fun­ding campaign. James Robertson is thrust into the spotlight, albeit briefly.

    The Detroit Free Press reported on James Robertson for the first time in February 2015.
    Robert­son’s story quickly goes viral, with tele­vi­si­on stations nati­on­wi­de reporting it. James Robertson had become the “The Walking Man.” During the course of an interview, the Fox News anchor cele­bra­tes Robertson; “I’m also proud of you. Because so many people make excuses to why they don’t go to work. You say, there were no excuses. You are the man that America is looking up to today. And we all want to be like you.”

    Elias Canetti writes in “Crowds and Power”: “On both sides of the ideo­lo­gi­cal conflict (note: capi­ta­lism and communism) pro­duc­tion is encou­ra­ged and fomented in every way. Whether one produces to sell or produces to dis­tri­bu­te, the process of this pro­duc­tion itself is not only not touched by either side, it is revered, and it is not too much to say that it has something sacred in the eyes of most today.”

    Thus James Robertson gives away his lifetime and health to a God who devours his own children. Not done with that, the US media proclaim his tale of woe as the ideal and guiding principle that supports the dogma of a religion of work, which James Roberston also believes in when he says: “I can’t imagine not working”.

    See also Adolf Hennecke — Hero of the Battle of Pro­duc­tion.

    Detroit Man Walks 21 Miles Round Trip To Work Daily | NBC News

    James Robertson Walks 21 Miles Each Way to His Job in Detroit / ABC News

    James Robertson, Detroit man with 21-mile walk to work gets car / WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7

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    About this blog

    By selecting a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. They are both based in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their cor­re­spon­ding articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.

    About this blog

    With picking a film or an image, this blog literally illus­tra­tes the vast sphere of work, employ­ment & education in an open collec­tion of academic, artistic and also anecdotal findings.

    About us

    Konrad Wakol­bin­ger makes docu­men­ta­ry films about work and life. Jörg Mar­ko­witsch does research on education and work. We both work in Vienna. Infor­ma­ti­on on guest authors can be found in their respec­ti­ve articles.

    More about

    Inte­res­ted in more? Find recom­men­da­ti­ons on relevant festivals, film collec­tions and lite­ra­tu­re here.