Dreamwork: Why All Work Is Imaginary
Upending our perception of employment, a surprising investigation into the mystical nature of our daily toil.
Dreamwork is a book about the ideas, dreams, dreads, and ideals we have about work. Its central argument is this: Although we depend on the idea of work for our identity as humans, we feel we must disguise from ourselves the fact that we do not know what work is. There is no example of work that nobody might, under some circumstances, do for fun. All work is imaginary—which is not to say that it is simply illusory, but rather that, to count as work, it must be imagined to be work. In other words, a large part of what we mean by working is this work of imagining. Work is therefore essentially mystical—just the opposite of what it is taken to be by all of us spending our days at desks, behind cash registers, and in factories. Delving into this complex mythos, Dreamwork looks in turn at worries about whether or not work is hard; the importance of places of work; the meanings of hobbies, holidays, and sabbaths; and the history of dreams of redeeming work.
About the Author
Steven Connor is professor of English and director of research at the Digital Futures Institute, King’s College, London. He is the author of eighteen books.
Praise for Dreamwork: Why All Work Is Imaginary
"This is a delight of a book. It takes the seemingly innocuous concept of 'work' and shows how central our understanding of it is to our collective understanding of the world. The book is beautifully written in a cascade of illuminating paradoxes and puns. It is also a treasure trove of scholarship from philology to management theory. A must-read."
— Colin MacCabe, distinguished professor, University of Pittsburgh, and editor of "Critical Quarterly"
“With his inimitable flair for rooting out the phenomenological intricacies of apparently ordinary things, Connor leads us on a tour of the dream factory of work, labor, toil, and occupation. The result is a book of typically considerable—dare I say it—detective work that opens up the quotidian reality and enabling dreamscape of work to new understanding.”
— Nathan Waddell, associate professor in twentieth-century literature, University of Birmingham