Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




Total Pageviews

Friday, October 21, 2016

THE EIGHTH CIRCLE OF HELL

Yes, I know there are only seven, but my recent experiences here in Paris convince me that an eighth circle is badly needed.  Suffice it to say that for the last thirty-six hours, I have done very little besides trying to get my television and phone to work.  Yesterday, I walked [in some cases a long way] four times to two different offices of the local cable company, called Orange [previously, when it was owned by the state and worked, it was called FranceTelecom.]  In the first office, on the right bank, while I was waiting an hour to be received by a technical expert, I noticed a sign on the wall that said [in French, of course] roughly that abusive language and threats directed at employees would be treated as a criminal offense and would be dealt with harshly.  "That's odd," I thought idly.  When I went to the second Orange office, here on the Left Bank, I noticed the same sign, at roughly the same time that I was growing uncontrollably angry at the dismissive, unfriendly, unhelpful response of a woman working there whom I have had run-ins with before.

And then it struck me.  Everyone in France must be so furious at Orange employees that they have become the objects of perpetual abuse -- hence the signs.  Ordinarily, as you know, my sympathies are with the workers, but I have my limits.  The extra level of Hell would be full up if I had my way.

After an Internet search I signed up for International Service on my cellphone, but I was unable to complete a local Paris call.  I had been given a number to call for a "code" with which I could persuade the wretched woman in the local store to exchange my television decoder box for a new one -- apparently what I need.  Two lengthy calls to very helpful Verizon ladies in the United States later, and with some additional complications to arcane for this blogsite, I was able to call the number.  Alas, by now it was 5:01 p.m. here in Paris, and a cheerful English language recording told me the office closed at five.  It will reopen on Monday at nine a.m.  It seems there is nothing for it but to spend the weekend working on my next Kant lecture.

Oh, did I mention that yesterday morning, I saw the two little batobuses Yves Montand and Jean Gabin at their accustomed mooring?  Some things in Paris can be relied upon.

8 comments:

AG said...

There is an implication in this post which implies that telecom customer service was better in the good ol' days of government ownership. I point it out not b/c I disagree, but because I appreciate the POV. I can juxtapose your view with other datums I've trawled off the web from econ websites that make similar assertions in their subtext towards the opposite conclusion; France's poor customer service is a leftover from the bad ol' days of the sclerotic nationally owned businesses.

It is funny how we pick up on sideways implications when we are not looking for them. A lot of the ostensibly accurate assessments I have about things are likely cobbled together from a bunch of little implications I've picked up over the years.

So, thanks for making it all more robust.

And thanks for the Kant lectures! I was never a big fan of sitting in a classroom, but I do enjoy listening to your lectures while sketching/jotting notes and staring out the window, no need to think about those around me.

Tom Cathcart said...

After several such experiences myself, even in hospitals, I hope we skip the stage of dictatorship of the proletariat.

s. wallerstein said...

I generally assume that the workers treat me badly because they're treated badly. Treated badly by their employers and probably by customers too. It's no fun to be mistreated by bureaucrats or by a call center, but I've known people who have worked in call centers which deal with customer complaints and the pressure on them from the bosses is incredible.

Tom Cathcart said...

You're a very generous man, s wallerstein, and I've always admired that in you, but some of my colleagues in proletarian jobs were just pricks.

s. wallerstein said...

Tom Cathcart,

Thank you for your generous words of praise.

I assume that we all are products of our circumstances and education and that if people are pricks, their circumstances and education have made them so. As Auden says, "those to whom evil is done/do evil in return". What's more, those who are condemned to work shit jobs their whole lives seem to have even less room to fashion spaces of freedom for themselves, spaces of freedom which permit one to grow as an individual, than we who have the education and leisure to memorize lines of W.H. Auden.

My ex-woman companion worked for a while in a call center here in Chile. She had to get there at 3 or 4 AM (I don't recall the exact hour) because they answered calls from cell phone customers in Spain. The supervisors clocked all calls, and if they took more than 2 minutes to answer each customer complaint or problem, they were in trouble. Trips to the bathroom were also clocked and rationed. That kind of routine produces depression, stress and resentment.
Stressed-out and resentful people tend to be pricks.

Tom Cathcart said...

Of course you're right. But many well-educated, highly paid people are pricks too. Why would wage-earners be exempt from prickdom? Pricktitude?

I. M. Flaud said...

The eighth and ninth circles of Hell are among the most interesting in the iconography of the Inferno. My favorite is the second bolgia of the eighth circle.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I was of course just wrong. There are not seven levels, there are nine. My bad.