My most expensive vice is coffee, attributing to about 2% of my yearly cost of living. From buying the almond milk to make delicious mochas, to going out and sharing a drink with friends, it adds up. Coffee is a part of my morning ritual and I love it. And I absolutely refuse to change it.
This is a fine article about living with less. A Montrealer called Jamie recorded his expenses for a year and learned he could live well on $11,000 (£6,000).
Having such data can buy you a lot of freedom and personal confidence. It could be the nudge an indentured employee needs to switch to part-time or to lower-paid, more spiritually-rewarding work.
Jamie’s budget also demonstrates the liberty that would come with Citizen’s Income. With CI, you wouldn’t need a crap job to get by. Some people think the £70 per week offered by the Green Party’s CI plan for instance wouldn’t be enough to live on. I say (and Jamie shows) it can be. If you find it’s not enough, you can still go out to earn more money but at least it would be a choice.
New Escapologist reader Richard directs our attention to a likable 2013 film from Finland called Tavarataivas, or “My Stuff“. It’s fun!
It tells the story (it’s a documentary but shot in a very filmic and narrative way) of a chap called Petri who decides to put all his material possessions temporarily into a storage unit. Starting over with nothing on January 1st, he allows himself to retrieve one item per day for the rest of the year. He’ll end up with his 365 most important things. A one-year minimalism project.
So Petri wakes up on New Year’s Day and dashes nude through the winter snow to retrieve a coat. It continues from there. What will he get next? What will he never retrieve? Will his friends and family disown him over his inconvenient experiment?
The result is a fun way of understanding the necessity or superfluity of things, of working out material and spiritual/psychological priorities.
Obviously, Petri’s doesn’t suggest that everyone should do this or even that he needed to himself. He doesn’t even sing the song of minimalism particularly loudly. It’s just a good-humoured experiment about how much stuff is enough.
I enjoy the way he’s forced to be resourceful without certain conveniences. Without a fridge, for example, he cools his food on the ledge outside his kitchen window. He has to get by without plates or cutlery for a while and discusses the problems and benefits of having no phone or computer.
I also like how he gets to (if memory serves) 23 things and starts to think it might actually be enough if it had to be: all problems solved with 23 things. He has similar thoughts around 50 things, the debate over which object to retrieve next becoming less and less important. There’s also a touching interview with his grandmother about the value of stuff and how it might differ between old and young people and men and women.
It’s interesting. But mainly, it’s just quite heartening fun.
Some of you may remember our reader survey. Well, it’s still open.
New Escapologist has more readers today than when we originally launched the survey, especially in the US and Canada. I’d love to know a bit more about you all and to hear what you think of the magazine and blog. Simply go here to complete the questionnaire if you’d like to.
Here are the results from the first 71 respondents (though 103 have actually completed it now).
You could also (as well as or instead of the survey) tell us what you’d do in a world without work.
Pleased to meet you.
Bookchin held the utopian conviction that contemporary post-scarcity technological conditions could free people of drudgery. But this could only be achieved with a combination of decentralized, face-to-face democratic politics and committed trusteeship of the natural world.
We’ve spoken briefly of post-scarcity economics before. To add a little more without getting too deep into political theory, here’s a neat intro to socialist libertarian Murray Bookchin (written by friend of idling, Mark Kingwell).
Another tiny sample from the book:
After filling ostentatious houses with crap, people retire at 70 and say “you know, what matters most are family and good health”. Well, duh.
If you’re interested in thinking about “what matters most”, here’s New Escapologist‘s Things of Value.
Editing a chapter of my book, and this tiny part made me laugh:
If you’re writing a novel or a film script and you want to quickly get the idea across that your character has a crap life, all you have to do sit him on an ergonomic swivel chair.
What would I do if I didn’t go to work?
It’s a good question, a frequently-asked one even. It’s asked sarcastically by dullards and sincerely by those of us with imaginations.
In a way, the question is at the heart of Escapology. Where are you going today? What would you like to do with yourself? How would you like to apply your imagination and willpower if given a chance?
I’d like to dedicate a sub-chapter of the forthcoming Escape Everything! book to answering this question through examples.
If you’d like to be mentioned in the book (even if anonymously), drop me an email with a brief description of how you spend your time instead of going to work (or how you imagine you’d spend it if you didn’t go to work).
There are many ways of spending days, so let’s show the world a few!
Thanks to friend Nicola for telling us about these brilliant subway hacks.
Yesterday, activists pasted quotations from Dave Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs essay over existing adverts on the London tube.
They did this specifically yesterday because Monday 5th is the first day back to work after Christmas for many Londoners, and tube commuters are probably the ones who will benefit most from a dose of Graeber wisdom and mischief.
Among the quotations used are:
It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs for the sake of keeping us all working.
Huge swaths of people spend their days performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed.
How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labor when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?
Ugly, idiotic Vice magazine has an opportunistic interview with Graeber about the posters in which he rises to the occasion to say:
over the course of the 20th century there’s been a huge effort to re-imagine the world; it’s the imagination of these great entrepreneurial geniuses that create all these things—workers are just robots, working in the factories, doing what they’re told, extensions of the minds of these quite great people. It seems there has been an increased emphasis on work as of pure value unto itself.
A job that isn’t bullshit should have concrete benefits to other people. But we can’t do jobs that aren’t bullshit because of debt. That’s a great dilemma from which that movement actually started I think. I would say to unions and organizers, think about that, redefine what is valuable about work—work is valuable if it makes other people’s lives better. It would be nice if we were rewarded for making people’s lives better, not punished. From an individual point of view, think about the way that you can navigate that with your own conscience.
All of this happened while I was sleeping.
Baboosh! Here it is. My traditionally-belated End-Of-Year Report to My Imaginary Shareholders.
The point of this Diary series more generally is to help answer the question, “what would I do if I didn’t have a job?” This, madam. This is what. Or at least, it’s one example. So here we go.
Reader Dean confirms safe receipt of his copy of Issue Eleven in sunny Tasmania.
As Dean is our farthest-flung reader, it’s probably safe to say that everyone else’s copy will have been received already.
Happy New Year to every one of our readers, all over the world. x