This article is a few months old now, timed to come out around the Swiss Referendum, but I only just got around to reading it. Oh well. It’s excellent and contains this simple little gem:
UBI is a somewhat uneasy mix of two objectives: poverty relief and the rejection of work as the defining purpose of life. The first is political and practical; the second is philosophical or ethical.
The piece is written by Robert Skidelsky who also co-wrote that smashing book How Much Is Enough? towards the end of which Citizen’s Income (UBI) is recommended as a sort of societal equivalent to individualist Escapology.
There’s also an illuminating brief history of welfare and this wee thing about the morals of being idle:
Most of the hostility to UBI has come when it stated in this second form. A poster during the Swiss referendum campaign asked: “What would you do if your income were taken care of?” The objection of most UBI opponents is that a majority of people would respond: “Nothing at all.”
But to argue that an income independent of the job market is bound to be demoralising is as morally obtuse as it is historically inaccurate. If it were true, we would want to abolish all inherited income. The 19th-century European bourgeoisie were largely a rentier class, and few questioned their work effort.
We’ve substantially reduced the price of New Escapologist digital editions.
Each bundle now costs just £20. This is down from £33 and is an awful lot of content for twenty quid.
The first bundle contains PDFs of Issues 1-7. That’s 567 pages.
The second bundle contains PDFs of Issues 1-13. That’s 594 pages. This is the first time Issue 12 has been included in a bundle and also includes a PDF pre-order for Issue 13 due out next month. This is currently the only way to pre-order Issue 13.
It’s also worth mentioning that the British pound is currently in the potty thanks to Brexit, so readers in Europe, the USA and Canada (whose currencies we accept at the shop) will be getting a steal. Get in there while it lasts, my international friends.
there’s one uniquely Japanese term you don’t want to relate to: karoshi, which translates as “death by overwork”.
Thanks to friend Drew for alerting us to this article about the history and medical theory of Karoshi.
Intriguingly, karoshi might not be caused by stress or a lack of sleep, but time spent in the office. By analysing the habits and health records of more than 600,000 people, last year researchers found that those who worked a 55-hour week were a third more likely to suffer a stroke than those working fewer than 40 hours. Its not known why, but the authors speculated it might simply be the result long periods sat at a desk.
So I just turned the last page of Sarah Bakewell’s At the Existentialist Cafe. A superb book. I marked far too many pages with little sticky notes.
One such sticky note marks a single sentence on p124:
In coming years [Sartre] would become ever more interested in the way human beings can be swept up by large-scale historical forces, while still each remaining free and individual.
It caught my attention because I recalled Bakewell saying something similar about Montaigne in her previous book How To Live. I’d considered this quote for an epigram to Escape Everything! (ultimately deciding against it since Bakewell’s work is a bit too new to quote from so liberally and prominently, and also because it detracted from the centrality of the Houdini motif) so I have it to hand:
Ordinary people’s lives are sacrifices to the obsessions of fanatics … The question of any person of integrity becomes not so much ‘How do I survive?’ as ‘How do I remain free? How do I preserve my true self? How do I keep my soul?
It’s a recurring theme in Sarah Bakewell’s books. In the Existentialist book she brings in Heidegger and Husserl’s thinking around historical place, and Bouvoir’s acknowledgement of gender and race as defining situations. In the Montaigne book, she discusses the memoirs of Holocaust survivors and how they maintained a sense of self while cast asunder by these “large-scale historical forces” and “obsessions of fanatics”.
The idea originally caught my attention because it’s something I think of a lot too and it’s central to Escapology:
At this point in history–the time of neoliberalism and a time in which the institutions of employment (“what do you do?”) and consumerism are super-normalised–how do we stay true to ourselves? What happens to our perception of freedom? How do we maintain a sense of integrity and self?
Here’s a sneak-peek. The contents of the magazine’s thirteenth issue look something (if not precisely) like this.
I’ve been meaning to mention Chief O’Brien At Work (“for fans of crappy jobs, space travel and ennui”) for ages but keep forgetting. Finally, on Star Trek‘s 50th Anniversary, here it is. Beats Dilbert.
the movement in the waving tentacles and lively variety of patterns suggest this person is also restless and finding work dull, so is putting out feelers and considering options. The horn shape rising to the edge of the page shows ambition and desire to move on
From a puff piece about work doodles and what they “say about” their artists.
This is from Sarah Bakewell’s superb new book At the Existentialist Cafe.
We salute Frédéric Desnard who is suing his employer for boring him into stupor.
A Frenchman who claims he was given so little to do at work he suffered “bore out” is taking his case to an employment tribunal on Monday.
Frédéric Desnard says his managerial job at the perfume company, which made him redundant 18 months ago, was so tedious he became exhausted and literally bored out of his mind.
The 44-year-old said his “descent into hell” was similar to a burnout, but less interesting.
A great precedent and, if nothing else, the case has taught us the term mis au placard, meaning “put in the cupboard” or given only menial tasks to do.
All of our artists work differently. Some read the article and draw whatever they feel like. Some ask us for quite specific ideas or instructions. Tristan Tolhurst, a friend from Montreal, usually sends a selection of thumbnails from which we choose a favourite.
When you’re useless at drawing like I am, even these doodles are deeply impressive and it feels a shame not to share them any further than Tristan’s bottom drawer. So here are his latest ones.
While we’re at it, here are some old ones from Issue 8 (the Luke Rhinehart interview):
And from Issue 5 (my piece about living in a loft):