The idea that a person’s relationship to the written word cannot be well understood as either “work” or “pleasure” seems destined to elude the bourgeois consciousness. But why? Minima Moralia 2.84 suggests one explanation:
'Work while you work, play while you play—this is a basic rule of repressive self-discipline. The parents for whom it was a matter of prestige that their children should bring home good reports, were the least disposed to let them read too long in the evening, or make what they took to be any kind of intellectual over-exertion. Through their folly spoke the genius of their class. '
The regime of “repressive self-discipline” is inculcated by the enforcement of strong boundaries between work and play, beginning in early childhood. Reading that slips the bonds of work and takes on the character of play is held as suspect. As the children grow older, such parents will try to direct their academic endeavors into channels that will “equip them for success” or make them “ready for their future” or whatever else occurs to marketing departments within the modern consumerist university.
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