Operation Save-and-Quit

You’re right to think seriously of quitting. You badly need a complete break, with time to think. And that won’t be possible immediately.

I was delighted to see the Guardian careers advisor (and his readers) encouraging someone to take the money and run.

You have £100,000 savings. Either quit outright now, or ask your boss if there’s a possibility of a six-month sabbatical if you feel that all you need is time off rather than a change of lifestyle. The technical sector is still doing well: if you have the experience and drive you say you have, you’ll have no problems finding another job once you’ve taken a break.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

Happy 20th Birthday, The Idler!

rsz_idler46_conversations-cover-mockup

Where do you get your ideas from? If you’re working all day, it kind of kills a lot. So daydreaming is a productive activity. It’s also about visualising your ideal world, both the kind of world you live in and also who you want to hang around with and what you want to spend your time doing. My ideal world, which I’ve been thinking about for 10 years, is the film world, where I can make films and watch movies and be around creative people.

When I was 17, I remember thinking, ‘My whole life is anticipation, everything I’m doing in school is to serve some future purpose.’ All people would say is, ‘What are you going to do when you grow up?’ Wait – you mean we’re not people right now? You’re being moulded to be a little drone-worker in the system.

Thus spake Dazed and Confused filmmaker Richard Linklater, interviewed by a young Idler in 1994.

The Idler has come of age and, to celebrate, they’re releasing a collection of fifty interviews with fabulous bohemians and idle thinkers from the magazine’s capacious archive. You can order a copy here.

There’s also a smashing sample from the volume in the Independent today.

The Idler was, of course, a major part of the inspiration for New Escapologist. Their editor, Tom, also gave us some good breaks by recommending us to his readership, by allowing me write for his magazine, and doing an event with us in Glasgow. Since it began in 1993, the Idler has evolved into a high-quality annual of joyful, counter-cultural essays and an entire enterprise in the form of the Idler Academy. Long may they flourish! But effortlessly.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

The Carbonated Beverage Blues

slurm

I’m sometimes reminded that carbonated beverages exist. Coke. Sprite. 7Up. Nozz-a-la? Is that one? (Yes).

The last time I thought about carbonated beverages, I struggled to convince myself that coke actually exists.

I once put together a bookfair in a student-occupied university building. Preparing for the event, I moved the makeshift bed of one of the squatters and twenty plastic coca-cola bottles rolled out into the room.

Why would an Anarchist drink coca-cola? That’s about as close as you can get to drinking Capitalism. You are drinking your enemy! That is what your enemy tastes like, and now it’s in your stomach!

Carbonated beverages are addictive, expensive, disastrous for your health, and bad for the environment. If you buy it, Anarchists, you are directly funding one of the biggest and most totemic-of-capitalism companies on the planet.

Step 1 of being an Anarchist should be: withdraw your funding. You can start by not drinking coke.

Step 1 of being an Escapologist is probably: stop wasting your money and eroding your health. You can start by not drinking coke.

If you do nothing else good with your life, stop drinking coke.

It amazes me that anyone drinks coke. You know grown-up drinks like beer and wine exist, don’t you? And tea? And tap water? Bloody hell. Coke.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

Join our mailing list

If you’d like to be kept up to date on new magazine issues, parties, talks, flashmobs, wicker man burnings, and other Escapological goings on, pop your email address in the form below.

As our current mailing list subscribers know, we rarely invade your inbox. We typically do so only twice a year.


Email Format


Vergaderziekte

Something we’ve often overlooked in New Escapologist is that people might actually like their jobs, or rather the core duties of them.

What often gets people down is the culture of work: above all, the inefficient expectation that we commit no less than 35 hours per week to a job that could be done in 10; and to maintain an atmosphere of manic busyness throughout or face accusations of laziness.

Schumpeter in praise of laziness in The Economist:

office workers are on a treadmill of pointless activity. Managers allow meetings to drag on for hours. Workers generate e-mails because it requires little effort and no thought. An entire management industry exists to spin the treadmill ever faster.

and:

[A survey last year] found that more than 80% of respondents continue to work after leaving the office, 69% cannot go to bed without checking their inbox and 38% routinely check their work e-mails at the dinner table. This activity is making it harder to focus on real work as opposed to make-work.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

Non-Economic Purposes

If there is a message to our upcoming ninth issue — subtitled Take the Money and Run — it’s this:

The challenge for developed countries such as Britain is not to keep on raising production, whatever the cost. As Keynes wrote in 1930, perhaps its time to “devote our further energies to non-economic purposes” and take a look at that broader list of poverties. In particular, what synergistic satisfiers can we identify that will raise our ‘wealth’ across several needs? Because a society that is getting ever richer on paper, but lonelier, busier and more disconnected in the process, might not be so wealthy after all.

This comes from Make Wealth History, an excellent blog about sustainable development. Worth following.

Its author Jeremy Williams has allowed us to reprint one of his earlier essays in Issue Nine. We rarely print anything that has been published elsewhere first (Edward Lear’s poetry in Issue Two and Graham Fulton’s poetry in Issue Six are the only examples that come to mind) but this is a really good essay that I think our readers will appreciate.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

Know Thine Enemy

An entertaining interview with ‘The Man’ at Raptitude:

DC: If it is ultimately voluntary for people to work for you, why do they do it?

TM: Well it’s the normal thing to do, and I give them money to do it. All of their friends work for me, their parents almost certainly did. Obviously if it was so horrible it wouldn’t be so popular. I guess when you begin to believe someone else controls your life you can stop worrying about it so much.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

An Escapologist’s Diary. Part 35: Sherlock Holmes

silhouette-large

My partner and I like to read to each other. She reads when her North American accent lends itself well to a story, and I read the silly English stuff.

Lately, I’ve handled the majority of the reading because we’ve been munching our way through the canon of Sherlock Holmes.

We recently passed the halfway point, a fact that leaves me slightly melancholy: what to do when it’s all over? Should we cut the remainder with Solar Pons to make it last longer?

Reading Holmes together is extremely entertaining and I can’t recommend it enough. If nothing else, you can have fun with your range of character voices. I challenge any man not to be seduced by my staccato ‘lady’ voice, and not to shrink into submission upon hearing my Terry Jones-style ‘harridan’ voice, used exclusively for elder housekeepers and Mrs Hudson.

My vocal showboating is sometimes punished: I’ll invest a character with an impressive but difficult-to-maintain accent only discover he has five pages of solid dialogue.

There are times when a reading becomes positively theatrical, such as when one Mr Cyril Overton punctuates his telling of The Adventure of the Missing Three-Quarter by repeatedly slapping his knee. I’ve also experimented with adding soundtracks in the form of ‘Victorian street noise’ and ‘crackling fireplace’ tracks from YouTube, though it tends to distract.

I’m the proud owner of the best Sherlock Holmes edition ever published, but it’s rather too bulky for cozy reading and the intriguing marginal notes compete with the story, so we’ve been using the lighter-weight versions for free from the library. Trips to the library to choose the next volume is part of the fun (only a fool would read them in order – start with Adventures and then Hound).

Holmes is riddled with jokes and uproarious humour. There are tropes that make us laugh because we’ve learned to recognize them as portentous. Our favourite is the hubris displayed by police officers, immediately plowed down by Holmes and followed by a sartorial insult from bitchy Watson. For example, this description of Lestrade:

The official detective was attired in a pea-jacket and cravat, which gave him a decidedly nautical appearance.

Out of context, this doesn’t sound like much but take it from me that it’s a bloody brilliant joke.

The stories are also told with howlingly wonderful innuendo, verging on a kind of polari. Holmes and Watson are clearly a couple: another good reason for reading this as a couple.

Why you might also like to take up reading the Sherlock Holmes books aloud:

– It’s free (and one should always be on the lookout for free hobbies);
– A completely ‘unplugged’ activity, it takes you away from the TV and computer screens (unless you choose to use an e-reader, in which case you lose again);
– A Holmes short story or a chapter from one of the novels fits neatly into an hour;
– It’s a communal event, prompting you to savour something together instead of in isolation;
– By the time you’re finished, you’ll be an expert on Sherlock Holmes and can kick arse in the quiz at your local Sherlock Holmes society;
– As an Escapologist, Holmes’ lifestyle can inspire you to live by your wits as he does.

Pre-order Issue Nine in print or on PDF today.
Buy the complete back catalogue of New Escapologist with a 10% discount.
Or buy the complete back catalogue on PDF, with £1 off the price of each issue.

Latest issues and offers

1-7

Issues One to Seven

A bundle of our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, and Tom Hodgkinson. 567 pages. £35.

8-11

Issues Eight to Thirteen

A bundle of our last six issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, part-time work, Will Self, home life, Richard Herring, and E. F. Schumacher. 593 pages. £30.

Issue Thirteen

Our final edition. Featuring an interview with celebrity mortician Caitlin Doughty; Matt Caulfield on zen fool Ryokan; and Reggie C. King on David Bowie and Sun Ra. 122 pages. £7.

Escape Everything!

A hardbacked guide to scarpering. Essential reading for wage slaves and slugabeds alike. Published by Unbound. 230 pages. £12.