“For a certain amount of time we tested out W-2 drivers, but that’s when we provided equipment,” Steven Hsaio, Spoonrocket’s CEO, said in an interview. “It wasn’t the most financially sound decision.”
Like many start-ups, Spoonrocket could afford to bring contractors onto its payroll if it wanted to. (In May, the company announced it had raised $11 million in a funding round led by Foundation Capital.) But optimizing for growth means lowering costs, and lowering costs means constantly looking for new ways to squeeze out inefficiencies. Hsaio says that Spoonrocket is testing out a new bidding system, in which drivers will compete against each other for deliveries, giving the most work to the drivers who are willing to work at a lower price.
“I ultimately think it’s really good,” Hsaio says. “We can’t tell [drivers] what to do or how to do their job. They’re their own entrepreneurs.”
—Kevin Roose, "Does Silicon Valley Have a Contract-Worker Problem?," New York
— Christopher Beha, "Henry James and the Great Y.A. Debate," NYer
As I am now generalising a period of my life with the object of clearing my way before me, I can scarcely do so better than by at once completing the description of our usual manners and customs at Barnard’s Inn.
We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable, and most of our acquaintance were in the same condition. There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did. To the best of my belief, our case was in the last aspect a rather common one."
— Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
— Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
Gently I wave the visible world away.
Far off, I hear a roar, afar yet near,
Far off and strange, a voice is in my ear,
And is the voice my own? the words I say
Fall strangely, like a dream, across the day;
And the dim sunshine is a dream. How clear,
New as the world to lovers’ eyes, appear
The men and women passing on their way!
The world is very fair. The hours are all
Linked in a dance of mere forgetfulness.
I am at peace with God and man. O glide,
Sands of the hour-glass that I count not, fall
Serenely: scarce I feel your soft caress,
Rocked on this dreamy and indifferent tide.
— Arthur Symons, “The Absinthe Drinker”
And all this despite the fact that memories are very fragile things, ephemeral things, this is not exact knowledge, but a guess that a person makes about himself. It isn’t even knowledge, it’s more like a set of emotions.
My emotions … I struggled, I dug into my memory and I remembered."
Pyotr S., psychologist
(in Voices From Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich)
Knausgaard’s subject matter may be closer to memoir than novel (so, at least, the ongoing Norwegian controversy over the series seems to tell us), but it is a novel nonetheless, because its most insistent subject is the experience of rapt immersion.
That has, after all, been the burden and joy of the novel since Cervantes. The quixotism of looking for Knausgaard through the Google Pegman is deeply novelistic, silly and childishly sincere by turns, and it is as good a way as any of feeling the leakiness of novelistic representation: sloppy, and porous to the banal messiness of the world, the novel’s task has always been to promote the kind of hypnotic state that wraps around the world rather than shutting it out. That state is much of what gave novels their poor reputation for centuries; it is what we tend to celebrate now, in our anxiety over a more distraction-rich media environment, in the process forgetting some of the very good reasons why hypnosis isn’t necessarily a good in itself. No small reason for Knausgaard’s ecstatic reception has been the sense that he supplies the drug of immersiveness for a culture that thinks it needs it so badly."
— Nicholas Dames, "Knausgaard’s Novel Degree Zero," Public Books
— Raymond Geuss, "The Idea of a Critical Theory," The Point