Postone writes, with admirable clarity: “ The category of abstract human labor refers to the social process that entails an abstraction from the specific qualities of the various concrete labors involved , as well as a reduction to their common denominator as human labor. Similarly, the category of the magnitude of value refers to an abstraction from the physical quantities of the products exchanged as well as a reduction to a nonmanifest common denominator – the labor time involved in their production.” 
Marx, as I have said, was strongly aware that capitalism both freed labor and emptied it, as far as it could, of specificity. This correlate of the ideal interchangeability of the human is the quantity of time. The factory, to Marx, was in a sense the ideal palace of capitalism because there, interchangeability is crystallized, more clearly than in any other economic formation, in ‘putting in time.” They are the palaces of abstract time, and their ruin in the developed countries – for instance, the ruin of the explosives factory at Ardeer, which you can see here – has the air of the ruin of something royal and tyrannical, something that lasted for centuries. And yet, of course, it lasted for 80-100 years. And like the gutted palace of some predatory ruler, when it empties, when the people can rush into it - there is nothing there. Or rather, there is no treasure there.
“If the specific productive work of the worker is not spinning, he wouldn’t transform cotton into thread, and thus would not transfer the value of the cotton and the spindle into threat. If the same worker changes his métier and becomes a cabinetmaker, he would, as before, through a work day add value to his material. He adds this thus through his labor, not in as much as it is spinning or cabinetmaking, but in as much as it is abstract social labor in general, and he adds a specific quantity of value, not because his labor has a particularly useful content, but because it has lasted a particular length of time.”
This, of course, offends our sense of craftsmanship. The flight from abstract labor time is encoded in the system of distinctions that traverses the field of taste.
But I don’t want to get into that here. Rather, I want to return to the sticks of dynamite. Lovely things, dynamite. Their use value makes them allegorically interesting, in as much as it consists in destruction. Of course, in the main course of things, dynamite is usually used simply to destroy geological formations – in mining. Some stray sticks, of course, fell into hands that used it otherwise – the anarchist dynamiters in Colorado in Pynchon’s against the day undoubtedly used Ardeer sticks. As well as the absinthe drinking bombers in Paris in the 1880s.
But in the Ardeer factory, the girls, in Marx’s schema, both created value and preserved old value by completing the end of the process of making the sticks. Doubtless, the discipline of the plant led to the weeding out of slow girls. And thus, inevitably, abstract time was stained by human difference. But if the cartridge girls were rewarded for being quicker, it all, in Marx’s scheme, was subject to the capitalist imperative of seeking the most unpaid work possible – the highest surplus value.
That imperative is folded into another one – the social reproduction of the relations of production. Which I will try to touch on tomorrow.