If it’s seemed at all quiet here, it’s because we’ve been working on Issue Seven of New Escapologist. In fact, it’s available to pre-order now.
Here’s a wholly premature sneak-peek at Issue Seven’s table of contents:
Missing from the table of contents is this issue’s big interview. I’m working on three separate interview pieces now, one or two of which will make it into the issue. No clues as to the interview subject yet, but we’ll announce it very soon.
Formats Bookstore, Montreal, is the latest realworld stockist of New Escapologist. Thanks to Louise and team for taking us on.
Eight articles from our sixth issue have been translated into Japanese by Momoko Oda of the University of Bath. The work was part of her MA in Interpreting and Translating.
Here’s a productivity technique for idlers, night owls, and slugabeds. Harness the Zombie.
I’ve tried to be a morning person. I admire the willpower of convolvulaceae such as the Frog Eaters; the Vanderkameras; and the White Queen who could “believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
But I can’t do it. My higher functions (especially ones as abstract as belief) don’t kick in until much later in the day. Even if I crow-bar myself out of bed at a respectable hour, my synapses don’t start firing usefully until my fried eggs are thoroughly digested.
Lucky for me, I’m an escapee, so I can structure my days however the hell I like. On the other hand, I do sometimes wish I had more to show (either in terms of productivity; or deliberate, waking leisure) by the time lunch rolls around.
But as Henry Miller said, “if you can’t create, you can work.” In the crusty-eyed mornings, you can at least function as a servant to your higher self. You can prep the ground for when your brainy self wakes up and is ready for a little light cathedral-building. Or in catchier terms, you can “Harness the Zombie.”
Before I go to bed at night, I spend a few minutes thinking of tomorrow’s duties. Many of them will be quite lowly tasks – mechanical or trivial errands such as trips to the bank or the post office. Instead of squandering my post-meridian window of higher functioning on such crappy jobs, I delegate them to the zombie – AKA my own sleepy morning self.
If something can be done largely without engaging the brain whatsoever – basic domestic tasks, physical exercises, hammering a nail into the wall – get the zombie to do it. Leave it to Lurch.
Just be sure to programme his tasks before you go to bed. He can’t plan his own tasks, remember. He can only follow basic instructions. If necessary, write them on a post-it note and stick them to his forehead.
By the time your conscious mind flickers into life in the mid-afternoon, all of the nonsense work has been taken care of by your own loyal house zombie.
Here’s a thorough review of what sounds like a very interesting book. Normally I wouldn’t direct you towards a book I had not yet read, but my library doesn’t have a copy yet and I’m eager for someone in my sphere to read it.
The book is called How Much is Enough?: The Love of Money and the Case for the Good Life.
Its premise, it seems, is to assess why we don’t have the “life of leisure” foreseen by optimistic pundits in 1930 (namely John Maynard Keynes, who Escapologists will remember as the man who said “The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones”).
Working hours are longer than they’ve ever been (a six-day work week was recently proposed as a solution to Greece’s economic woes) and thanks to portable telephonic gimcracks, we’re expected to be working even when we’re not at work. It shouldn’t be like this! We, the minority of people not obsessed with work, often feel as if we’re trapped in a Philip K. Dick-style alternate history where something just doesn’t feel right.
Even though we have the technology and the human hands to run the basics of agriculture and production and the minds to conduct research, we still this mad idea that basic dignity has to be earned when it should be a simple right. We should be living the life of leisure as Keynes predicted and as Buckminster Fuller emplored. But instead we toil pointlessly, supervising the supervisor of other supervisors.
So the book attempts to answer why we don’t have this Keynesian life of leisure. According to the Globe and Mail‘s reading of the book:
the free-market economy is the villain. It allows employers to dictate terms of work and inflames our innate tendency toward competitive, status-driven consumption. Keynes failed to see that the evils of capitalism … might become permanently entrenched, obscuring the very ideal they were initially intended to serve.
That’s what New Escapologist (and others before us) have been saying for ages. “The economy is a human-made thing designed for our convenience,” I wrote the other day, “it serves us, we do not serve it”. And in today’s economy, in which educated people struggle to pay for their far-from-ostentatious urban lives, this fact should be shouted by sengerphone from the rooftops. Or at least vigorously Tweeted.
The book looks like our sort of thing. Give it a crack if your library has a copy.
Never permit a dichotomy to rule your life, a dichotomy in which you hate what you do so you can have pleasure in your spare time. Look for a situation in which your work will give you as much happiness as your spare time.