It doesn’t even stink

On your “off” time, you’re checking your phone and working anyway, and, when you’re not, you’re giving The Man back the money you sold most of your life away to obtain.

This doesn’t come from some radical rag like New Escapologist, folks. It’s the closing remark of a review of Captain America: Civil War.

That we’re all cast asunder in a gigantic juicing mechanism may be the only conclusion a thinking person can draw after two hours and 27 minutes of wrinkle-free, sexless CGI bludgeoning but it’s a refreshingly honest thing to see printed in a national newspaper.

They’re bullying us. You can skip these films, but they will keep piling up, and you will be regarded as one of those weird people who still expects to enjoy your popular culture. It’s part of the corporatization of everything.

The review’s an interesting read beyond this, actually. The critic points out that the movie isn’t bad exactly but that it’s nothing–an empty cavity of corporate nowt–and that blockbusters haven’t always been so cold and empty. At least Indiana Jones, he says, “clearly liked sex” but Captain America and Company seem to live for “earnestly deployed pseudo-techno-jargon”.

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Print for a Pound

P1020103

Issues One and Four are both classics. The first has an interview with Judith Levine and my Invitation to Escapology essay that started the whole thing off. The latter has a smashing article by Reggie C. King about Sartre’s and Flaubert’s tendencies to stay in bed for long stretches.

Anyway, I printed too many for our last zine fair and there are now some leftover copies haunting our apartment, making a mockery of our minimalist living space, so I’d like very much to give them away to you for a quid apiece. Get ’em while they’re hot! And cheap!

To buy them, simply visit the shop today and click the “Buy for £1” button you’ll see there.

Not a bad way to introduce a friend to New Escapologist.

All dough raised will go into the kitty to print Issue 13.

UPDATE: The discounted copies of Issue One are now sold out. Thanks for your support! Issue Four is still available for a quid though: get them while they last.

UPDATE 2: That’s the surplus stock all sold out. Thank you very much, everyone.

Saying It All in Three Panels

05776b4425527b8b48145d067d6978b5

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

The They

Existentialists think that what makes humans different from all other beings is the fact that we can choose what to do. In fact, we must choose: the only thing we are not free to do is not to be free. Other entities have some predefined nature: a rock, a penknife or even a beetle just is what it is. But as a human, there is no blueprint for producing me. I may be influenced by biology, culture and personal background, but at each moment I am making myself up as I go along, depending on what I choose to do next. As Sartre put it: “There is no traced-out path to lead man to his salvation; he must constantly invent his own path. But, to invent it, he is free, responsible, without excuse, and every hope lies within him.” It is terrifying, but exhilarating.

From Think big, be free, have sex: ten reasons to be an existentialist.

However tough it is, existentialists generally strive to be “authentic”. They take this to mean being less self-deceiving, more decisive, more committed, and more willing to take on responsibility for the world.

Most of the time, we don’t do this very well. Why? For Heidegger, the fault lies with our bewitchment by a non-entity called das Man, often translated as “the they” – as in “they say it will all be over by Christmas” (or the “one” in the phrase “one doesn’t do that”). We can’t say who exactly this “they” is, but it is everywhere, and it steals the decisions I should be making by myself.

For Sartre, the problem is mauvaise foi, or bad faith. To avoid facing up to how free I am, I pretend not to be free at all.

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Bibliographed

I slightly regret not putting a bibliography in the back of Escape Everything! especially now that people have started asking why there isn’t one.

So by jove, I went back to the book and built a bibliography. Good job I have near-total recall when it comes to this sort of thing. It’s here. Happy to discuss the books and articles in the comments thread there.

library

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Working Less: What wouldn’t it solve?

What does working less actually solve, I was asked recently. I’d rather turn the question around: is there anything that working less does not solve?

This is a really great article by Rutger Bretman. Thanks to reader Jonathan for bringing it to our attention.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the ability to cut a big chunk off our working week. Not only would it make all of society a whole lot healthier, it would also put an end to untold piles of pointless and even downright harmful tasks.

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Universal Basic Income

The idea of a universal basic income is about to leap from the margins to the mainstream, bringing promises of a happier and healthier population.

Today’s Guardian publishes very positive article by John Harris, summing up the rising tide of interest in Citizen’s Income.

The positive consequences extend into the distance: women are newly financially independent and able to exit abusive relationships, public health is noticeably improved, and people are able to devote the time to caring that an ever-ageing society increasingly demands. All the political parties are signed up: just as the welfare state underpinned the 20th century, so this new idea defines the 21st.

And to anyone who can get to London on May 8th, there’s this interesting-looking CI event at Conway Hall.

[A] big theme […] is that of automation, and its effects on the place of work in our lives. A third of jobs in UK retail are forecast to go by 2025. The Financial Times recently reported on research predicting that 114,000 jobs in British legal sector would be automated over the next 20 years.

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Inky

inky

An octopus has made a brazen escape from the national aquarium in New Zealand by breaking out of its tank, slithering down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappearing into the sea.

We’re awfully fond of octopuses here at New Escapologist, admiring them for precisely this kind of stunt. They have the wit and flexibility that so many humans lack, which is why we put one on our homepage.

So it’s with much delight that we congratulate Inky on his Shawshank-style escape. Eight cheers for inky.

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Trailer

I made a promotional video for the book!

It’s one part A Clockwork Orange trailer to two parts MS PowerPoint.

Hope you like it! Be sure to turn the speakers on.

How to Avoid Tax Properly

bell

In the wake of the Panama Papers I’d like to offer some advice to The Elite.

There are far easier ways to avoid paying tax than what you lot get up to. Why trouble yourself and sully your reputation over complicated offshore affairs when you could simply work less?

I join the nation in calling for the Prime Minister’s resignation, but unlike the nation I have the PM’s best interests at heart.

In the UK, as a politician of all people should know, you can earn as much as £11,000 before you’re asked to pay anything to the tax office. That’s plenty to live on, so stop earning, silly. Millions of people earn far less without the motivation of tax avoidance!

Bertrand Russell observed this long ago: “In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized Governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a Government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man’s economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it in drink or gambling.”

Unfortunately, if you’re serious about this, there’s also consumption tax (that’s VAT here in the UK) to avoid. This means ceasing to buy so much stuff. This is called minimalism or voluntary simplicity. Historically, it’s been seen as a highly virtuous way to live.

You can still do your civic duty by paying at least some consumption tax–perhaps on groceries and other noshable goods–and by paying your council or municipal tax. I love to pay my council tax because it funds the things I like and things that benefit the community instead of the central government and those armed forces and bombs. £140 a month (between two!) for clean water, sewage removal, garbage and litter collection, schools, libraries and parks is a bargain. Moreover, when you work less you’ll really get the most out of those things.

My advice to the tax-dodging rich is to get real and do it properly with your reputation intact. Stop working. Nobody will miss you. Retire with dignity to a nice cottage with a view somewhere and write your memoirs. Quietly. Maybe your book could be called How I learned to stop swindling the nation and love to loaf.

★ Buy the brand-new Issue 12 of New Escapologist at the shop; buy our most popular digital bundle; or get the Escape Everything! book.

Latest issues and offers

1-7

Issues One to Seven

A bundle containing our first seven issues. Featuring minimalism, Houdini, Leo Babauta, Bohemianism, Alain de Botton, Sartre, Joshua Glenn. 567 pages. £35.

8-11

Issues Eight to Eleven

A bundle containing our most recent four issues. Featuring Luke Rhinehart, Flaubert, Mr Money Mustache, Ewan Morrison, Richard Herring, E.F. Schumacher. 385 pages. £22.

Issue Eleven

Small is Beautiful Featuring Justin Reynolds on William Morris; Neil Scott on Russell Brand; a story by Ian Macpherson; Robert Wringham on E.F. Schumacher and a reprint of Bob Black's 1985 essay The Abolition of Work. 96 pages. £6.

Issue Twelve

One Foot in Front of the Other Featuring Will Self on walking in cities; Robert Wringham on the Lyke Wake Walk; Mark Wentworth on walking a Toyko subway line; Paula Billups on walking as art in Berlin; and Joshua Glenn on the perfect flaneur. 86 pages. £6.