The Grateful Economy

Predicated on generous collaboration and supplemented with part-time employment, the Grateful Economy is separate from the state and relies entirely on free artistic and critical contributions.[1] It’s not a pyramid scheme, it’s a pledge.[2] It’s the subject of a dream relayed over the phone. I go to the meeting with my Dad, in a circular white stone building. You should never go to someone’s home with your two arms the one length.[3] I’m being asked to bring a gift, but I haven’t a clue what’s appropriate. I feel like I have nothing to give, so I give thanks instead. This seems to work well, as there is barely enough time and everyone else has given quite a lot.[4]

You are someone who needs attention and sometimes you go a bit overboard being dramatic in order to get it. You have a clear presence that gets you attention; however you still use your clothing and behavior to acquire it.[5] After I get home, I have to pay you back and I transfer it all the way back to a name I don’t recognise. I’m absolutely fucked after the weekend. I feel worse for wear.[6] I’m none the wiser for it. I’m on borrowed time. They say it’s cyclical, this gift economy, but it feels like spirals. I don’t feel appreciated, this isn’t reciprocal. I’m going on strike until January.[7]

I don’t go on strike. Instead, I transcribe audio interviews of English people talking about the Labour party. I agree more with people who are harder to transcribe, with false starts and who interrupt the interviewer. I can get the people I don’t agree with transcribed in about half an hour, but their words last all day. I am not very good at transcribing, only managing to earn about three or six dollars an hour. Soon I am given the files no one wants, that are paid the worst. Glitchy zoom meetings and a video recording of a statistics lecture. The Lecturer is wearing a face shield so when he gets excited his words ricochet, garbling the track. When he speaks about being an American soldier, I can barely make it out at all. I flick through more files but the further I go the harder they become. Soon I can’t make out the different accents at all. They are looking for clean reads. They want me to follow British rules of punctuation.[8]

[1] Dream, date unknown.
[2] The Artist Support Pledge was established in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It aims to create a sustainable economy for Artists.
[3] Irish phrase.
[4] During the IMMA Summer School; Statecraft we had several lectures surrounding “The gift” as a state practice. I failed to prepare a presentation around the gift, and during the final seminar gave thanks.
[5] My horoscope, ‘Eager Beaver’, available online at;
[6] The weekend, 22nd-23rd August 2020.
[7] Text messages from Sunday, 4th October 2020; “I thought of getting tinder again but was like nah >> No. I’m on strike until January. Feel like my romantic labour isn’t being appreciated.”
[8] Verbit is a freelance online platform for sourcing or providing audio transcription.