The Absurdity of Work


This question paves the way perfectly for our upcoming Absurdity issue. I giggled all the way down the comments thread. The question lets the madness in.

Would you do a completely pointless job?

In particular, we’re talking about the acts of digging holes and filling them up again, or writing the words “I am working” over and over before binning your efforts.

The comments left by the ERE readers fall into four main camps:

1. No, I’d never do it because my freedom is too important;
2. No, I’d never do it because my work must be personally satisfying or socially worthwhile;
3. Yes, I’d do it if the money was right;
4. Yes, because it’s no more absurd than my current job.

The latter is the whole point. The work we do is all too often not necessary or doesn’t really need to be worked on for so many hours. So many of us are in an absurd Touch-the-Truck situation in which we’re basically paid for physical presence.

The Escapologist, of course, recognises this Sisyphean torment for what it is and tries to escape it.

Most people, sadly, will inevitably pick up the shovel–largely against their will–in exchange for £10 or £20 or £40 per hour. For forty years.

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 each issue.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at

Leave a Reply

Latest issues and offers


Issue 14

Our latest issue. Featuring interviews with Caitlin Doughty and the Iceman, with columns by McKinley Valentine, David Cain, Tom Hodgkinson, and Jacob Lund Fisker. 88 pages. £9.


Two-issue Subscription

Get the current and next issue of New Escapologist. 176 pages. £16.

Four-issue Subscription

Get the current and next three issues of New Escapologist. 352 pages. £36.

PDF Archive

Issues 1-13 in PDF format. Over a thousand digital pages to preserve our 2007-2017 archive. 1,160 pages. £25.