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Lazy Like Me
December 10, 2004 5:49 AM   Subscribe

Quitting The Paint Factory. Are you feeling overworked? Do you feel like you need more free time? In this essay from the November 2004 issue of Harper's Magazine, Mark Slouka argues that idleness is both a virtue, a health benefit and a requisite for a fully-formed personality. Keep it in mind the next time you feel guilty for doing "nothing" on your time off.
posted by The Card Cheat (62 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
The main article kind of goes off the rails a bit near the end with a somewhat superfluous anti-Bush diatribe (typical of Harper's), but the bulk of it almost perfectly articulates what I've always disliked and feared about the cult of overwork slowly taking over North America.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:54 AM on December 10, 2004


The virtues of idleness? This is a conceit of the wealthy and well educated. Those struggling to support themselves or who simply find themselves in situations that require long hours of work rarely have the luxury of considering alternatives. The American cult of acquisition is far more insidious.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:09 AM on December 10, 2004


Perhaps, but the author of the article argues that keeping the lower classes busy is one way for the ruling classes to keep their stranglehold on power;

Mother knew instinctively what the keepers of the castles have always known: that trouble – the kind that might threaten the symmetry of a well-ordered garden – needs time to take root. Take away the time, therefore, and you choke off the problem before it begins. Obedience reigns, the plow stays in the furrow; things proceed as they must. Which raises an uncomfortable question: Could the Church of Work – which today has Americans aspir­ing to sleep deprivation the way they once aspired to a personal knowledge of God – be, at base, an anti-democratic force? Well, yes. James Russell Lowell, that nineteenth-century workhorse, summed it all up quite neatly: "There is no better ballast for keeping the mind steady on its keel, and sav­ing it from all risk of crankiness, than business."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:13 AM on December 10, 2004


Rather than the lower-classes being "kept" busy, maybe their lower-class busy-ness gives the higher-classes their leisure.
posted by adzm at 6:28 AM on December 10, 2004


A neat trick - argue that the poor are manipulated into working to avoid attacking the arrogance of the rich for choosing not to. And what adzm said.
posted by bluesky43 at 6:35 AM on December 10, 2004


I'm convinced!

I'm going home right now. To hell with this "work ethic!"
posted by nofundy at 6:42 AM on December 10, 2004


bluesky 43, it sounds like you could use a vacation.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:54 AM on December 10, 2004


Rather than the lower-classes being "kept" busy, maybe their lower-class busy-ness gives the higher-classes their leisure.

Either way, work sucks and the workers get screwed;

Bart: "I am through with working! Working is for chumps!"

Homer: "Son, I'm proud of you. I was twice your age before I figured that out!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:10 AM on December 10, 2004


One problem (if you drop out) is that you battle everyone and everything to stay dropped out. Or move to the woods. Or pretend you're insane like the manager of that paint factory.
posted by pepcorn at 8:15 AM on December 10, 2004


Alternatively to what pepcorn said, you could just try to get promoted to management.
posted by shawnj at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2004


Nice essay. I've been an advocate of true idleness for years now (and I walk the walk). But most (as I already see in this thread) will argue themselves silly trying to convince themselves why their enslavement is right and just and necessary. So I don't proselytize.

One problem (if you drop out) is that you battle everyone and everything to stay dropped out.

This is true but irrelevant. You do a thing because it's right, not because it's easy.

Immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous. —Bertrand Russell
posted by rushmc at 8:31 AM on December 10, 2004


thanks, Card Cheat. i've been looking for an online version of this ever since i read it in the magazine. Harper's is the one mag that i get in print, and Slouka's essay is a great reason why. regardless of whether you agree with his precepts, i think it's great non-fiction writing (as i usually find in every issue (not a shill)).

i walk the idleness walk too, but i find there's a fine line between idleness and inaction. it seems harder and harder to do with TV/Internet/etc., but true idleness, i.e. sitting around talking, playing games, is indeed a virtue. living small, and all that.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:49 AM on December 10, 2004


see also
posted by paramnesia at 9:00 AM on December 10, 2004


I enjoyed this immensely. I've always valued idleness, and I'm far from wealthy. In high school, I marvelled at my parents' willingness to toil daily at jobs they loathed to support our family. I respected it and appreciated it, but beneath that, I always felt it was very sad. I'm going to forward this essay to my dad. I think he'll like it.

I am now running on the same sort of treadmill--I have an utterly meaningless office job that is both boring and stressful. My taste for laziness is double-edged. The fact that I spent several years in high school reading books that weren't part of the curriculum and writing poetry instead of doing my classwork kept me in school for an extra year, but it also lead to a creative arts scholarship.

I've always supposed that the key to happiness is finding work that one actually enjoys. But getting to that point takes effort and sacrifice--and then there's the reality that obviously not everyone can do that. Someone has to do this office-monkey job. How about a 20 hour work week?
posted by apis mellifera at 9:25 AM on December 10, 2004


We're moving product, while the soul drowns like a cat in a well

Out of context this looks like a quote from a tenth-grader's Tortured Soul poem.

Idleness, on the other hand, is scratching your balls for four hours in front of Nickelodeon. A better word for the process of finding out who you are and what's important is reflection. Or immersion. Or appreciation. Being alive and aware of it.

Allen Ginsberg -- the true advocate of the soul in an increasingly dehumanizing world -- said, "Poetry is not an expression of the party line. It's that time of night, lying in bed, thinking what you really think, making the private world public, that's what the poet does."

Idleness reclaims nothing. Tuning your senses to the world around you is the real virtue. And then concretizing that in language that publicly codifies our values.

Ginsberg also said, "The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That's what poetry does."

True leaders have to have firstly a “heart” knowledge of the sacredness of human passions and the freedom to pursue those passions, as well as a “head” knowledge of the science of the political machine in order to manipulate it to help us protect all the things we live for. This is what will truly “save the world” and everything that makes it turn and worth turning.
posted by Lisa S at 9:27 AM on December 10, 2004



Rather than the lower-classes being "kept" busy, maybe their lower-class busy-ness gives the higher-classes their leisure.


Maybe. But then again, do the rich actually work less than the poor?
posted by paul! at 9:44 AM on December 10, 2004


A better word for the process of finding out who you are and what's important is reflection.

Agreed, but I think the author's point is that this reflection is not possible if you're busy all the time. I love to write poetry, but I'll tell you, since I've been employed full time (about 3 years), I haven't written much.
posted by apis mellifera at 9:59 AM on December 10, 2004


see also
posted by majcher at 10:03 AM on December 10, 2004


Immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous. —Bertrand Russell

Floors don't mop themselves, sir.
posted by jonmc at 10:09 AM on December 10, 2004


Floors don't mop themselves, sir.

This would explain why my linoleum is dotted with globs of jam stuck with cat hair.

Work is sometimes necessary. I don't really believe that work in and of itself is virtuous, though it probably does make work more bearable to think so.
posted by apis mellifera at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2004


How about a 20 hour work week?

let's start with a 30-hour work week, and see how it goes. better to ease into it, i say.

we can always dare to dream, even at work.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on December 10, 2004


Work is sometimes necessary. I don't really believe that work in and of itself is virtuous, though it probably does make work more bearable to think so.

At this point in our history, it takes quite a lot of effort to make the machinery of society function. To contribute to that effort is virtuous, even noble.

I'd be the last person to discount the benefits of the occasional spell of lassitude, but full-time idleness is not good for you, and frankly if I knew someone engaging in it, I'd probably feel resentful, even contemptuous.
posted by jonmc at 10:31 AM on December 10, 2004


I know people engaging in it, and frankly, I feel rather envious. I've gone through a few periods of fairly extended unemployment, and let me tell you, apart from the stress that came from not having enough money to pay for food and shelter, I rather enjoyed them.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:35 AM on December 10, 2004


I sure didn't. The longest stretch of unemployment I ever went through was about 8 months. For the first couple weeks it was like an extended vacation, but after that I started to feel like an invalid.
posted by jonmc at 10:40 AM on December 10, 2004


from majcher's link:

Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five percent of the work then being done -- presumably the figure, if accurate, is lower now -- would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

not to mention ... (cue threatening music) HEALTH CARE!

anyway, i thought of Paul Goodman when i was reading Slouka's essay.

full-time idleness is not good for you, and frankly if I knew someone engaging in it, I'd probably feel resentful, even contemptuous.

full-time idleness is not always good for you, but i think it would be very good for me. i've been unemployed before, and i volunteered my time. if i were permanently unemployed, i feel confident i would donate a reasonable amount of my time, probably 20-30 hours a week, coaching, teaching, cleaning up my local environment, etc.

i often question the value of my job, and i can't really come to an answer that satisfies me. as apis mellifera accurately notes, only the extremely ambitious and industrious workers get jobs that they actually like to do. the other 90% of us end up addicted to a drug of choice (including TV) or end up hating life and other people. there has to be a better way.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:45 AM on December 10, 2004


For the first couple weeks it was like an extended vacation, but after that I started to feel like an invalid.

The key, as mrgrimm pointed out, is to keep busy, just as it is when you retire. My father retired last year after 38 years at a job he...well, he didn't *hate* it so far as I could tell, but he always said he'd quit the moment it became financially feasible to do so, and he did. Since retiring, he's become more active in the community, taken up two new hobbies and gotten himself in better shape, physically. Whenever I ask him how retirement is, he beams from ear to ear and says "It's excellent."
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:50 AM on December 10, 2004


A beautiful essay, thanks for the link (though yeah, the Bush thing was probably unnecessary; a bit cute to link him to the Futurists).

I don't know if keeping the wheels of society turning is always a noble endeavor. Sometimes refusing to turn them is necessary. Questioning why and how they turn is also noble. And considering that most of us desk jockeys, if we were honest, would admit that we are only working about half the time that we're at work, I think a shorter work week is a wonderful, if nearly-unimaginable, idea. I could do my job in about 20-30 hours, easy.

And isn't it likely that the undesirable jobs that "someone" has to do will eventually be mechanized? Wouldn't garbage collection and janitorial work be fairly easy to turn over to a robot eventually? I think we will have the technology at some point to allow shorter work weeks, provided we can still make sure the newly idle don't then starve.
posted by emjaybee at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2004


I don't know if keeping the wheels of society turning is always a noble endeavor. Sometimes refusing to turn them is necessary. Questioning why and how they turn is also noble.

I don't deny that. But it's also good to remember that just about all the thigs around us, from the bag of chips I'm eating to the PC I type this on to the chair I'm sitting in are the products of many peoples labor, from designers to factory workers, to salespeople, to shop clerks.

Is this stuff supposed to make itself? Are all these people simply unwitting participants in a global conspiracy?

I think not.
posted by jonmc at 10:59 AM on December 10, 2004


jonmc: Russell's position, if you read the entire text of 'In Praise of Idleness' is that work qua work is virtue-neutral. He is asking us to evaluate the fruits of our labors and weigh them against the other uses of our effort when determining the virtue of a particular bit of work. Doing so often reveals that the extra work we do because of our belief in the inherent virtue of work could be better spent. Russell certainly gets utopian by the end of that text, but his underlying thesis is strong. Look no further than at those who downshift their lives and the extra value they derive from being able to pursue their interests. I think that if more people would accept that happiness is not necessarily derived from work and material possessions, we, as a society, would be 'better off' for lack of a better way of putting it.

Certainly one can abuse this philosophy and use it as an excuse to be slovenly, but to pull that quote from Russell and ignore the context is disingenuous. True, the floors do not mop themselves, but it is the value of cleanliness and a responsible lifestyle, not the act of mopping, that holds virtue.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:00 AM on December 10, 2004


True, the floors do not mop themselves, but it is the value of cleanliness and a responsible lifestyle, not the act of mopping, that holds virtue.

But without the act of mopping, the virtue of cleanliness is merely an abstract concept, and thus merely a conceit, not a virtue.
posted by jonmc at 11:08 AM on December 10, 2004


Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about idleness.
posted by Panfilo at 11:12 AM on December 10, 2004


Oh, I pulled that quote from rushmc, who posted it here. I've never read Bertrand Russell and have only the most basic idea of who he is.
posted by jonmc at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2004


Sorry about those links. Newbie I'm afraid. It should be RLS and idleness.
posted by Panfilo at 11:17 AM on December 10, 2004


Thanks very much for that essay, Panfilo...the description of the dullards waiting for the train is terrifying; I see them every day on the streetcar on the way to work. I also worry that I'm turning into one of them, day by monotonous day.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:30 AM on December 10, 2004


Virtue itself is an abstraction, regardless of whether you act in accordance with it or not. Do you want to argue that all abstractions are conceit?
posted by Fezboy! at 11:37 AM on December 10, 2004


Virtue itself is an abstraction, regardless of whether you act in accordance with it or not.

Maybe, but cleanliness (or lack thereof) is a physical reality. Either the floor is dirty or it is clean. One cannot claim cleanliness unless the he cleans, thus necessitating actions.

Now, here's some Mr. Clean. Make yourself useful.
posted by jonmc at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2004


He is asking us to evaluate the fruits of our labors and weigh them against the other uses of our effort when determining the virtue of a particular bit of work. Doing so often reveals that the extra work we do because of our belief in the inherent virtue of work could be better spent.

Exactly. jonmc's comments in this thread sound like apologetics for mindless consumerism, which surprises me, given what I know of him. But as I said above, people will turn themselves inside out logically to deny that they are living wrong. (Even Tibetan monks have clean floors, jonmc...it doesn't take 40-80 hours a week to produce one.)

Make yourself useful.

Our definitions of "useful" may not match up. And there are other values than utility that may reasonably be entered into the equation.

No discussion of idleness is complete without a link to Jerome's Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow.
posted by rushmc at 11:56 AM on December 10, 2004


Okay, let's try this another way:
The virtue lies not in the act of mopping, but in living cleanly. Thus, in this case we can say that there is virtue in the act of mopping as it is instantiating the abstract virtue.

Compare to:
You are mopping the floor (again) not because it needs it--and thus not instantiating the abstract virtue of cleanliness--but because it is work.

The difference between the two demonstrates that it is not the act of mopping qua work that holds virtue, but purpose behind the work. Russell is drawing out this distinction to argue that we ought to consider the fruits of our labor before undertaking it. Value judgments about a particular instance of work then become a straightforward Utilitarian calculation.

My point is that you are misrepresenting Russell. He did not advocate hedonism and was not adverse to work, only that work qua work is virtue-neutral and that we ignore this to our own detriment.

On preview: what rushmc said.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2004


Actually, I think we might be confusing our definitions of "work." I define it (loosely) as anything involving physical or mental effort, even if it's enjoyable. For, instance, I love collecting music, but after a day trooping around record stores, making tapes, researching or scoring the net I'm still tired. So it's still work.

I think you guys may be using work as a synonym for drudgery.

(Even Tibetan monks have clean floors, jonmc...it doesn't take 40-80 hours a week to produce one.)

The floor mopping was meant as a discreet, and somewhat humorous, example, but it does take the not inconsiderable effort of a lot of people to produce the various things we enjoy in modern life. How much of these things are neccessary and even good for us (or worth the work that goes into them) is certainly up for debate.

My point is that you are misrepresenting Russell.

Again, all I know of Bertrand Russell is generalities gained from working in a bookstore, and references to him by other people. And of course, the quote rushmc posted, which is what i was retorting to.
posted by jonmc at 12:18 PM on December 10, 2004


Thus, in this case we can say that there is virtue in the act of mopping as it is instantiating the abstract virtue.

Well, that's close enough. My point was that merely thinking the thought "cleanliness is virtuous" does not make the floor clean. So, I guess you could call it a symbiotic relationship.
posted by jonmc at 12:22 PM on December 10, 2004


Better would be to call it an epiphenoma. But speaking of the virtues of idleness, I'm off for an extended vacation right after I send this.

cheers!
posted by Fezboy! at 12:26 PM on December 10, 2004


...most of us desk jockeys, if we were honest, would admit that we are only working about half the time that we're at work...

Half the time? Let's not get crazy. A quarter of the time would be more accurate.
posted by suchatreat at 12:44 PM on December 10, 2004


> Actually, I think we might be confusing our definitions of "work."

I think that in Slouka's article, work could be defined as anything you are compelled to do for no reason apart from putting food on the table and a roof over your head...or, perhaps, keeping up with the Joneses. Meaning that the only motivational factors dragging your ass to the office are fear and/or survival instincts. By that criteria, jonmc, your afternoon of crate-digging would not qualify as "work," even though it's hard work and you're tired at the end of the day.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:44 PM on December 10, 2004


Meaning that the only motivational factors dragging your ass to the office are fear and/or survival instincts.

OK, but what about simply because a certain job needs to be done?

For instance, garbage collecting is an unpleasant job, and I imagine most garbagemen are only in it for the paycheck, so there's no virtue involved by the definitions we're working with. Except for the fact that if somebody didn't do it, we'd all be up to our ass in garbage.

(I recall someone upthread saying that somebody this job might be mechanized, perhaps, but as of now, it isn't, so that's kind of beside the point).
posted by jonmc at 12:53 PM on December 10, 2004


and by the way, don't take any of what I'm saying here as attacks or anything. I'm merely posing questions. and enjoying the discussion, thanks.
posted by jonmc at 12:54 PM on December 10, 2004


> and by the way, don't take any of what I'm saying here as attacks or anything.

45 comments to date, and not a single flame, personal attack or insult to speak of. *shakes head sadly* C'mon you morons, you can do better than that!

OK, but what about simply because a certain job needs to be done?

Granted, that job needs to be done by someone (and God bless them and pay them well), but while the work may be for the common good, the only motivating force getting the sanitation workers out of bed in the morning is still the paycheck, as you note.

On preview, what fezboy said; the work itself is virtue-neutral, the results of the work are not.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:11 PM on December 10, 2004


the only motivating force getting the sanitation workers out of bed in the morning is still the paycheck, as you note.

Perhaps, but the City created the Dept. Of Sanitation for the common good, or on the demands of the electorate that somebody do something about all the garbage. So it does sort of circle back to virtue of a sort.
posted by jonmc at 1:15 PM on December 10, 2004


Hmph. It's all a bit confusing, isn't it? Much food for thought. And to think, I mainly posted this because I hate my job and continually harbour the fantasy of getting up one day and walking out the front door, never to return, a la Sherwood Anderson.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:18 PM on December 10, 2004


And to think, I mainly posted this because I hate my job

I hear they're hiring garbagemen...

*ducks*
posted by jonmc at 1:20 PM on December 10, 2004


I've never read Bertrand Russell and have only the most basic idea of who he is.

Maybe if you weren't so contemptuous of idleness, you'd have time to find out[wikipedia]. He's only one of the most important intellectual figures of the 20th century. /snark
posted by jbrjake at 1:36 PM on December 10, 2004


"Whoever doesn't entertain any idle thoughts
doesn't throw any wrenches into the machinery."
- Theodor Adorno
posted by joe lisboa at 3:15 PM on December 10, 2004


I'm not really sure how much work we actually have to do in order to survive; I know people back home (admittedly, working relatively high-paying jobs, albeit ones with very low entry) who work rather casually. I hope to be one of them.
posted by 235w103 at 3:32 PM on December 10, 2004


"The correct way to pass your time is to sell your labour for money, which you then spend in your leisure time. Other ways of doing [this] are 'tolerated'. We call other ways 'alternative'. It is rude to call them 'wrong'. But if you resort to them too much you will die slowly or be killed."

-Momus
posted by idontlikewords at 3:50 PM on December 10, 2004


Also, as The KLF say, in The Manual, re: "How to get a number one song":
Firstly, you must be skint and on the dole. Anybody with a proper job or tied up with full-time education will not have the time to devote to see it through. Also, being on the dole gives you a clearer perspective on how much of society is run.
posted by idontlikewords at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2004


As you may have guessed, I'm not working and at home with my books. Here's one more bit from Huxley's Perennial Philosophy. In the chapter Religion and Temperament, he puts forth the proposition that people with differing temperaments will necessarily have different relationships with the concepts of work, study, socializing and etc. For instance, "Extraversion is not simple; it is of two radically different kinds. There is emotional, sociable extraversion--the person who is always seeking company and telling everybody just what he feels. And there is big-muscled extraversion--the person who looks outward on the world as a place where he can exercise power, where he can bend people to his will and shape things to his heart's desire."

It would seem that these are the types of temperament which look on the the concept of "idleness" with contempt. In fact, these are the types of people who feel, "a need for activity when in trouble." Huxley goes on to say that solitary confinement (or enforced idleness) is the "most terrible punishment that can be inflicted" on these types of people. However, for those of a more introverted temperament, solitary confinement is no punishment at all.

Introverts are less likely to "make good as normal citizens and average pillars of society," as they are "more concerned with what goes on behind their eyes--the constructions of thought and imagination, the variations of feeling and consciousness--than with the external world." Huxley continues, but "in universities, monasteries and research laboratories, their percentage will almost always be high. Realizing the importance of this extreme, over-evolved and scarcely viable type of human being, all civilizations have provided in one way or another for its protection."
posted by idontlikewords at 4:35 PM on December 10, 2004


How much of these things are neccessary and even good for us (or worth the work that goes into them) is certainly up for debate.

Yes, that's precisely the debate we're having here (triggered by the link).

Interesting quote, idontlikewords. But I dispute "normal" and "average" in it, because while the minority, introverts do comprise a substantial percentage of the population and are not just a few cranks that need to be disposed of in some asylum or other.
posted by rushmc at 5:25 PM on December 10, 2004


Work: "Physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something."

Satisfaction: "The fulfillment or gratification of a desire, need, or appetite. Pleasure or contentment derived from such gratification."

Bertrand Russell: "To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness."
posted by semmi at 8:29 PM on December 10, 2004


Time which you enjoyed wasting was not wasted. —G.K. Chesterton
posted by rushmc at 10:41 PM on December 10, 2004


This is excellent. This is something I've thought about for a long time, and the article is helping to crystallize some ideas for me. The real problem lies in the balance-- it's the classic search for happiness. If one can find a career that truly satisfies them, it's not Work; it's getting paid for doing what one loves. The lines become blurred. If I could make a living by walking through parks, laying on the beach, wandering through the woods, perhaps some backpacking, that would allow for me to be idle and still pay the bills, eat, you know, life maintainence stuff. But it's awfully hard to "drop out" like that. Creating for oneself is rewarding, creating something one isn't invested in, less rewarding by far.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:00 PM on December 10, 2004


creating something one isn't invested in, less rewarding by far

Not to split hairs, but that's because that isn't "creating," it's "producing." And therein lies all the difference.
posted by rushmc at 7:57 AM on December 11, 2004


Work, as we are using the word here, is not measured by the amount of effort, but by the level of obligation. Mark Twain said it best: “Work is anything a body is obliged to do. Play is anything a body ain’t obliged to do.”

As for the obligation to be idle no matter how difficult, I'll keep in mind rushmc's words: You do a thing because it's right, not because it's easy.

I'll use that line the next time I'm asked just exactly when I plan to haul my butt off the couch.
posted by mono blanco at 4:51 PM on December 11, 2004


You have to know French in order to read it. But there's this new controversial book called Bonjour Paresse (Hello Laziness).

In it you will find the Ten Commandments for the Idle:
No. 1 You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay-check at the end of the month, full stop.
No. 2 It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.
No. 3 What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.
No. 4 You're not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track
No. 5 Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.
No. 6 Make a beeline for the most useless positions, (research, strategy and business development), where it is impossible to assess your 'contribution to the wealth of the firm'. Avoid 'on the ground' operational roles like the plague.
No. 7 Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.
No. 8 Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).
No. 9 Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.
No. 10 Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowning when...
I own the book, but of course know no French. A friend of mine bought it for me while in France this summer. Luckily, as the end of the link states, the publisher has been approached by foreign publishers who would like to see it translated.
posted by crasspastor at 5:55 PM on December 11, 2004


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