Friend Neil directs our attention to this great-looking forthcoming documentary, The Future of Work and Death.
I can hardly wait. Quick, someone throw some money at their kickstarter.
I love that work and death are placed together as discussion topics: the two great so-called inevitables.
This potential film is very much part of our Utopian conversation about what’ll happen when the machines more properly take over and the idea of the human as functionary is more widely accepted as an appalling waste.
Recall this Buckminster Fuller quote:
We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery.
I enjoyed this strange little offering from the BBC website: a flowchart for people asking whether they should quit their job or not.
Rather satisfyingly, most routes down the flowchart are in favour of quitting. While just two routes end at “You should stay!”, six lead to “You should go! Good luck!”
There’s also a little bubble statistic on the side of the chart suggesting that “only 37% have a high level of intent to stay in their current job.”
Actually, they’re already here. Millions of the little buggers. In fact, according to this article that nicely sums up the scariness of coffee pods, the number of “K-cups” sold by Keurig in 2013 would wrap around Earth 10.5 times.
Shall we laugh, cry, or do both?
Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come. Before long, our quest for convenience and our penchant for all things cheap and plastic will have rendered Earth uninhabitable. We’ll be living inside larger pods, aboard a giant space ship, and we’ll be sucking calorie-restricted, nutritionally-balanced, artificially-flavoured meals from tubes. Because it’s convenient. We should therefore be grateful for the early training opportunity provided by Nespresso.
I’m reluctant to heap scorn upon pod users themselves, though. Like you, I have close friends and family members who have succumbed to the ease of the pod, and yes, I have sipped the evil brew.
But at what cost convenience?
The author of the pod article raises some valid concerns: environmental impact, cost, and mediocre taste. But there is another aspect, a greater ill, that isn’t explicitly mentioned. And it’s an Escapologist’s nightmare. Pods are Exhibit Z in the slow, tortured death of true leisure. They are symptomatic of a society that’s increasingly willing to forego creativity, quality, and craftsmanship in favour of speed. All so that we can get back to our busy lives.
But there’s still hope! There’s an antidote available. In fact, it’s probably within your reach right at this very moment. To get it, all you need to do is walk down to your local coffee house, order a cup of direct-trade coffee, patiently watch as it’s prepared with care, and then sip the goodness. Be sure to enquire about the origin of the coffee, and to ask the barista how long they’ve been working to hone their craft.
Coming Up For Air is a wise and beautiful book central to the Escapologist’s library. I read the novel three years ago and today happened upon some quotations from it in my old notebook. Some are pure and giddy fun while others are rather depressing, but they’re all life-affirming in their way.
“There’s something that’s gone out of us. […] It’s a kind of vital juice that we’ve squirted away until there’s nothing left. All this rushing to and fro! Everlasting scramble for a bit of cash. Everlasting din of buses, bombs, radios, telephone bells. Nerves worn all to bits, empty places in the bones where the marrow ought to be.”
“Isn’t it queer how we go through life, always thinking that the things we want to do are the things that can’t be done? It seemed to me a kind of dope-dream, like the ones you have of sleeping with film stars or of winning the heavyweight championship. And yet it wasn’t in the least impossible, it wasn’t even improbable.”
“…in this life we lead – I don’t mean human life in general, I mean life in this particular age and this particular country – we don’t do the things we want to do. It isn’t because we’re always working. […] It’s because there’s some devil in us that drives us to and fro on everlasting idiocies. There’s time for everything except the things worth doing.”
“When I look back I realise that my active life, if I ever had one, ended when I was sixteen. Everything that really matters to me had happened before that date. […] After [taking a job selling insurance] – well, they say that happy people have no histories, and neither do the blokes who work in insurance offices. From that day forward there was nothing in my life you could properly describe as an event.”
“There’s a chap who thinks he’s going to escape! There’s a chap who says he won’t be stream-lined! He’s going back to Lower Binfield! After him! Stop him!”
From A Philosophy of Walking by Frederic Gros. Thanks to friend Matt for showing us this.
[T]here is the suspensive freedom that comes by walking, even a simple short stroll: throwing off the burden of cares, forgetting business for a time. You choose to leave the office behind, go out, stroll around, think about other things. With a longer excursion of several days, the process of self-liberation is accentuated: you escape the constraints of work, throw off the yoke of routine. But how could walking make you feel this freedom more than a long journey? … only walking manages to free us from our illusions about the essential.
Entirely elsewhere, I enjoyed Will Self’s pleasingly glib closing remarks in a debate about the suggestion that “we’ve never had it so good”:
I love to walk, often across the city. I once went to Los Angeles and walked for eight days without ever stepping in a wheeled vehicle. […] It’s free to walk. Just breath. Walk. Think. Meditate. I really, really urge you to get out and have a decent walk, preferably to a random destination, one that is not economically compelled. That’s all I really have to say to you.
May is Walking Month, and the BBC had a good article the other day to kick things off. It’s about the merits of walking, just for the sake of it.
The author laments the fact that only 17% of our walking trips are “just for walking”. Somewhere along the way to becoming over-scheduled smart-phone addicts, we lost our inclination to meander, and may have stunted our creativity in the process.
Recommended best walking practices:
– Walk further and with no fixed route
– Stop texting and mapping
– Don’t soundtrack your walks
– Go alone
– Find walkable spaces
– Walk mindfully
Let’s reclaim our freedom to roam and our ability to think, by getting out there for some long, purposeless, technology-free walks!
It seemed obvious to me that we should take a local map, draw a circle on it, with our home at the centre and start baking cakes. The plan was to take three or four freshly baked cakes, then drive out to the edge of the circle on the map and knock on a door. If the door was answered we’d say: “We have baked you a cake, here it is”.
For anyone who’d like to know more about the “cake circles” to which we made reference in Issue 10, the mischievous Mr Drummond just did another one in Birmingham and wrote a nice account of it in the local paper.
The excuse that I give myself is that it was something to do with me being an artist. But the reality is I just like baking cakes and then going up to strangers and offering the cake to them to see that look on their face.
Cheer up, Monday monkeys. There’s always office zombies.