Sunday, March 23, 2014

To Enslave An

To enslave an individual troubles your consciences, Archivist, but to enslave a clone is no more troubling to you than owning the latest six-wheeler ford, ethically. Because you cannot discern our differences, you believe we have none. But make no mistake: even same-stem fabricants cultured in the same wombtank are as singular as snowflakes.

- David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

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Think for a moment about the 10 year old you. Take a minute and think about that kid. Whether you had a tough start or the world ran in greased grooves for you, take a minute and think about that kid, about the sort of things that kid saw, dreamed of. Got it? Hold onto it for a minute. Now think about the 15 year old you. What has changed? What, if anything is still the same at the 10 year old? Think about your dreams, think about what you expect life to be like, the things you say you want to do. Hold onto it. Now try it at 20, at 25, at 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 60, 70... What are your dreams made of? What happened to the dreams you used to have, the expectations you once held about life? Are you doing anything you thought you'd be doing? Is your work anything at all like you once imagined it would be? How close are you to your dreams? How far away? If it is far away, what got in the way? Disappointment? A lack of effort? Betrayal? Other plans that seemed better? Are they better?

I have been thinking about work, about the things we do for pay and then what we do with our pay. If you are fucked this is likely a sticking point - either on the earning side, or the consuming side, or both.

Why is this? Because we traded who we are, who we meant to be for a job and the job became what defined us and not the other way around. If you have money, you spend conspicuously. These are outward symbols of the economic status you have achieved. If you are broke, every dollar spent feels like a loss and it can get so mind crushing that you, too, spend conspicuously to at least (for a brief while) have that outward symbol of success.

Everybody has to eat. Everybody has to find a way to secure shelter and care for their family. But we fucked fuckers struggle mightily to be at peace with the economic prerogatives of our time. Why? Here's my take: because we still dream. We still remember the dreams we had as kids - either escape or achievement - and those dreams persist and cause us to think wildly inappropriate thoughts (inappropriate to the world of economics, consumerism and corporatism), namely, that we are unique in the world, with unique abilities and aspirations that don't fit snugly into a niche, a warren, a cubbyhole with a 2% a year annual raise whether you perform like a rockstar or a miscreant. We still believe the uncomfortable thought that we have some thing to do with our time other than acquire durable goods, something to give beyond the hours our employers demand our bodies be on the sales floor.  We're fucked because we still believe in ourselves, underneath all the detritus and weight of our culture's adoration of money (consumerism) and the path to acquire it (corporatism). We still believe.

We often fail in the economy because it doesn't know what to do with us and we try to fit in and it often comes out bad. Vonnegut once wrote that artists and thinkers and cranks could not make it in the corporate world and so retreated to bookstores as it was the only place they felt at home in the world.

But bear this in mind: if you feel fucked because the larger world doesn't have much use for you, or you for it, it is always, and I mean always, the outsider who changes the times they live in. It is always the crank, the loser, the ostracized who advances our understanding of the world. If this is you, welcome to your real work - the work of resisting any and all entities that quash the individual.

If you define yourself as fucked because of economics you have adopted the larger world's definition of success and worth and not hewed to your own. It is hard, I know. The lights have to stay on, the kids need to be fed, and then there's all that work you have to do after you get off work, your real work, your service work, your work to realize the dreams you once had, that still live, that need your attention, that call to you in the night: Move, boy-o. You've got shit to do.

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Listen: you are unique in the world. Your experience, your achievements, your failings are unique and are just what you need to become who you are. Do not believe the admen, the politicians, the 1% or the 99% percent, do not believe the news, do not buy into measuring your self worth by the square footage of your home, or the length of your dick. You are here with a knot of potential that only you can unfurl. Reject the call to consumption and corporate ladder climbing. It doesn't pay nearly enough for the job it does on your soul. No, go work. Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and then get to your true work - the work of subversion, the work of freedom, the work of responsibility, the work of being exactly who that 10 year old kid dreamed of being.

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