Make no mistake, I am very aware that for some time to come things will be difficult for many of us. The economy and the culture will be changing, changing in ways we are unsure of, where we may be fearful for what will come. Perhaps I am foolish enough to be American enough to feel and think that we not merely endure but succeed, succeed in ways we don’t yet comprehend. And again, foolish enough to believe in this success for myself and others going through this long period of change.
The other day I was fumbling for a Nietzsche quote in my head, and after throwing out a few bad New Yorker articles, Adam Sandler movies, and more posts, tweets and emails that I can’t believe I wrote, I found it, buried in my heart almost 40 years ago. Nietzsche is talking about God, but substitute “work” for the Lord:
The background of our cheerfulness. The greatest recent event — that “God is dead,” that the belief in the Christian God has ceased to be believable — is even now beginning to cast its first shadows over Europe.For the few at least, whose eyes, whose suspicion in their eyes is strong and sensitive enough for that spectacle, some sun seems to have set just now…. In the main, however, this may be said: the event itself is much too great, too distant, too far from the comprehension of the many even for the tidings of it to be thought of as having arrived yet, not to speak of the notion that many people might know what has really happened here, and what must collapse now that this belief has been undermined — all that was built upon it, leaned on it, grew into it; for example, our whole European morality…
Even we born guessers of riddles who are, as it were, waiting on the mountains, put there between today and tomorrow, and stretched in the contradiction between today and tomorrow, we firstlings and premature births of the coming century, to whom the shadows that must soon envelop Europe really should have appeared by now — why is it that even we look forward to it without any real compassion for this darkening, and above all without any worry and fear for ourselves? Is it perhaps that we are still too deeply impressed by the first consequences of this event — and these first consequences, the consequences for us, are perhaps the reverse of what one might expect: not at all sad and dark, but rather like a new, scarcely describable kind of light, happiness, relief, exhilaration, encouragement, dawn? Indeed, we philosophers and “free spirits” feel as if a new dawn were shining on us when we receive the tidings that “the old god is dead”; our heart overflows with gratitude, amazement, anticipation, expectation. At last the horizon appears free again to us, even granted that it is not bright; at last our ships may venture out again, venture out to face any danger; all the daring of the lover of knowledge is permitted again; the sea, our sea, lies open again; perhaps there has never been such an “open sea.”
— The Gay Science, Book V, aphorism 343
13 responses to “I know what we will have to do is difficult.”
Part of me is overflowing with “gratitude, amazement, anticipation, expectation.”
The other part of me has its jaws clamped shut to keep from screaming.
Fred my have not felt such gratitude if he knew what horrors the 20th Century had in store. The new morality wasn’t all it was cracked up to be….
My father used to put it thus: “God looks out for drunkards, the insane, and the United States of America.” The association looks even more appropriate today than it did then. Regardless of whether you read his words as belief or prayer.
I don’t need to think or feel anything about this new era. I know – I have been living the end of work. I have been judged an abject failure, unworthy of anything but contempt. So please forgive me for my sour attitude towards this grand new idea. It really isn’t all that new – this is nothing but the victory of the looters over everyone else, and the many will be enslaved by the few soon enough. (See the end of the Book of Genesis for an earlier example of how it’s done.) That is a story that’s almost as old as wide-spread agriculture.
Good luck with your optimism.
Perhaps that is where we are going with The End Of Work: to where attitudes towards someone who is not working are less judgemental. Where how much or how little you work is not a major factor is who and what you are.
That still leaves room for sympathy for someone who wants to work, and cannot find a job. But that’s sympathy, not contempt. Having spent a fair amount of time essentially out of work myself (being a freelance consultant, with no consulting gigs for months at a time), I perhaps have an exceptionally juandiced view. But I think that regarding someone out of work with contempt says far more — none of it good — about the person holding that view than the person out of work. (Now someone who could be working, and just refuses to be bothered. That’s a different story. But that’s clearly not you.)
wj, I must say thank you for your remarks, as I find them very moving. Yes, what you are suggesting is part of The End Of Work; that work will become less and less of a form of self-definition and we should adjust to that. But there are the larger more structural parts of this problem that I think I’m devoting my thoughts to.
wj, the electorate of Florida essentially deemed that unemployed people are the problem – if only those lazy bastards would either go get a job (where is a question they won’t answer) or die then there wouldn’t be a problem with unemployment. This is know because last year they elected a governor (a rent-seeker and thief, BTW, who bmostly bought the office) who ran on essentially that message. The People have spoken!
The governor’s signature piece of legislation has been a bill (since passed into law), that reduces unemployment benefits, and makes it harder for people to claim the benefits in the first place. Employers now have a very easy time of saying that workers have been fired with cause (thus not being able to claim benefits) and the appeals process has become punative. Example: If you appeal you denial of benefits, you have to wait many weeks to go through the appeal process. Only after winning an appeal will you get benefits. But to get those benefits, you have to continue to file for your claims every week or two. (It used to be two weeks, not sure about now under the new law.) The only problem is that the automated systems won’t let you file your claims if ou are under appeal. So if you win your appeal, since you haven’t been filing in a timely manner you will lose your benefits anyway. (This is a story not gettiong enough attention – you have to know people getting screwed to know what’s happening.)
This is the new reality. The government is giving the big FUCK YOU to people in return for sucking up to business owners. Which is to say, those with money get to tell the poor to die faster. Meanwhile, Wall Street gets trillions of dollars to make certain the guys at the tip-top still get their bonuses at Christmas. (I guess that’s the new Christian charity.
But I think that regarding someone out of work with contempt says far more — none of it good — about the person holding that view than the person out of work.
I’m encountering that attitude from some people when they hear I don’t have a steady job and am currently working through temp agencies. What do they think I’m doing, stuffing envelopes and answering phones? I’m doing the same kind of work–desktop publishing, presentation production and graphic design–that I would be doing on staff somewhere.
“Can’t you learn to do something ELSE?” they whine.
What they don’t realize is that more and more companies aren’t adding to their staffs (staves?) with ANY non-commissioned workers. They’re in for a rude awakening when they’re next.
Two last things before I stop. First, here’s how bad it is:
Mone for abstinence, but not dying kids?
Turns out the Florida state legislature has turned down federal money for items such as aid for the disabled, moeny to fund programs for seniors who couldn’t afford their medicine, and hospice care for dying children from needy families. They turned down the money on principle, because it was funded through the mis-named ObamaCare bill. They turned down the money despite having initially REQUESTED the money.
But hey, they took a stand on principle, right? Wrong. Because they DID accept money through the same funding source for ABSTINENCE EDUCATION in public schools.
Meanwhile, the state legislators pay $8 a month for their health insurance – that’s it.
They really do want the poor to die faster, and to stop breeding altogether. It just couldn’t be any more blatant than that.
Living the end of work is looking for a job and there aren’t any. What’s beyond the end of work — off the cliff — maybe is finding a need and filling it. Being a masterless ronin, a freelance problem solver as Melinda describes it. What are you good at? Who needs it? Where can a hole be identified that you could fill? Could you teach something, build something, repair something, sell something? Is there a function corporations could save money by outsourcing to you? Is there a kind of advice people need that you could give? A service you could provide? What do people need?
I lucked into what turned out to be the perfect niche for me: science editing. I figure it isn’t going away. Particular magazines will come and go, but science isn’t going anywhere: it increasingly fills the place in the world that the Catholic Church filled in 1300. And the need to communicate it clearly and accurately isn’t going away.
Jobs used to be the niches, now it’s needs. Sometimes needs people don’t know they have, something that frustrates them that they think nothing can be done about. We have to invent the niche before we fill it.
What are you good at?
I am good at depairing. All my other skills have gone to Hell. I’m not even sure I could do my old jobs if they were given back to me.
Who needs it?
No one. I don’t even need it.
Where can a hole be identified that you could fill?
There’s always freelance murder & mayhem. The problem is that the freelancers are always the stooges that get bumped off after the big job is done – no witnesses, no links, no worries. Even crime doesn’t pay unless you’re a big shot these days….
Could you teach something, build something, repair something, sell something? Is there a function corporations could save money by outsourcing to you? Is there a kind of advice people need that you could give? A service you could provide? What do people need?
Since I no longer have skills that employers deem worthy of paying for, I don’t see what good teaching these skills will do for others. The best case scenario is I might be able to show someone how they can do their job better – but then they get paid for the job and not me.
Even if a corporation outsourced something to me, all that does is perpetuate the problem – I would be taking away a paying job, quite possibly with benefits, for a lesser paying job without benefits. When people are desparate I understand why they do this, but it is nothing less than rewarding the looters for screwing over their own people. (I WOULD do this if it were feasible, but it isn’t. So I don’t even get the satisfaction of moral superioirity, though that’s probably a good thing.)
The niche that needs filled is that one which keeps people from getting screwed over every time they come in contact with Big Whatever. The problem is that the lawyers have already filled that niche quite nicely, and have become just another Big Whatever. SO you can get screwed by the lawyers, or you can get screwed by Big Whatever. Would you rather be hanged or shot? LOL There’s little or no recourse these days for anything. That too is by design.
So my advice to anyone coming up in life would be to figure out who screws people the most, and then do what they do. Not only is that the only way to get ahead, it’s the only chance you’ve even got of treading water these days.
With this I’m going to try to take a few weeks off from the internet again. It’s doing me no good (it takes no effort to find major systemic problems reading the news these days, and it takes a lot of effort to find anything positive being done), and despair can be contagious. So I’m going into quaranteen now before I infect anyone else. Peace out everybody.
Love you, Ice. (Realize those words are probably falling on deaf — absent — ears.) Vaya con dios.
Love you too Annie. And thank you.
Now I’m going to try stopping reading everything but sports news and chess news. We’ll see how that goes.