March 02, 2016

Unhappy when working. Unhappy when workless.

Fritz Kreisler by Paolo Garretto, which looks remarkably like George Orwell

George Orwell said in an essay on Oscar Wilde:
"Even in the most highly-mechanised countries, an enormous amount of dull and exhausting work has to be done by unwilling human muscles."
Maya Angelou said "next to loss in battle nothing is as melancholic as victory." Henry D. Thoreau said:
"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things."
Karl Marx wrote in 1881 in the New York Tribune:
"Fortunately there is that about hope: it is never satisfied. It is met, sometimes, but never satisfied, you’d be hopeless."
George Orwell wrote:
"Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering and only the very sound or the very foolish imagine otherwise." 
Even when Orwell found profile and profit he complained. He said
"Everyone keeps coming at me, wanting me to lecture, to write commissioned booklets, to join this and that, etc — you don’t know how I pine to be free of it all and have time to think again."
Christopher Hitchens wrote in 'Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays' (2004) that there is no escape from anxiety and struggle:
"The search for nirvana, like the search for utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle."  
Friedrich Nietzsche said:
"To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities — I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not — that one endures."
Aldous Huxley 'Brave New World' said:
"Awful? They don’t find it [the work] so. On the contrary, they like it. It’s light, it’s childishly simple. No strain on the mind or the muscles. Seven and a half hours of mild, unexhausting labour, and then the soma ration and games and unrestricted copulation and the feelies. What more can they ask for? True,” he added, “they might ask for shorter hours. And of course we could give them shorter hours. Technically, it would be perfectly simple to reduce all lower-caste working hours to three or four a day. But would they be any the happier for that? No, they wouldn’t. The experiment was tried, more than a century and a half ago. The whole of Ireland was put on to the four-hour day. What was the result? Unrest and a large increase in the consumption of soma; that was all. Those three and a half hours of extra leisure were so far from being a source of happiness, that people felt constrained to take a holiday from them."
Christopher Hitchens said:
"One can’t live without fear, it’s a question of what is your attitude towards fear."


Hunter S Thompson wrote:
"For every moment of triumph, for every instance of beauty, many souls must be trampled."
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Page, July 15 1763:
"Perfect happiness, I believe, was never intended by the Deity to be the lot of one of his creatures in this world; but that he has very much put in our power the nearness of our approaches to it, is what I have steadfastly believed."
Christopher Hitchens [from the forward to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World]
"The search for Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle."
Christopher Hitchens said
"I think despair is quite a good starting point. I mean I think it’s very good to know that we’re born into a losing struggle … I’m not very impressed by people that say ‘I wish it wasn’t true, so I’ll try and act as if it isn’t.’ It is true. Everything is governed by entropy, decline, annihilation, and disaster … I don’t want a world without anxiety, grief, pain and struggle."
Hitchens also said:
"Cynicism is good. It would be alarming if there was mass enthusiasm."
He also said:

"My own view is that this planet is used as a penal colony, lunatic asylum and dumping ground by a superior civilisation, to get rid of the undesirable and unfit. I can’t prove it, but you can’t disprove it either."

Larkin said to the Paris Review:
"But “happiness,” in the sense of a continuous emotional orgasm, no. If only because you know that you are going to die, and the people you love are going to die."
Philip Larkin also wrote these verse:
'Life is first boredom, then fear
Whether or not we use it, it goes
And leaves what something hidden from us chose,
And age, and then the only end of age'
Cartoonist Peter Dunlop Shohl wrote about Foxes and Hedgehogs:
"Isaiah Berlin, the British diplomat and philosopher, is celebrated for separating thinkers into two groups. The first group is foxes, the second, hedgehogs. Foxes know many things; hedgehogs know one big thing. If ever anyone fit the hedgehog category, it was Norwegian-American economist and anthropologist Thorstein Veblen. 
Veblen's big idea was propounded in a small, wry book first published in 1899, "The Theory of the Leisure Class". His notion was that the actions of humans across the world are driven primarily by an urge to display their superiority by demonstrating their economic clout through the showing off of wealth. The more wasteful and frivolous an activity, the more it shows how much you can afford to throw away. He called this "Conspicuous Consumption". He goes on to explain darn near anything anyone does in terms of his great idea, and makes quite a case. 
Why do suburbanites own SUVs to drive to the grocery store? They are expensive gas hogs, and thus confer status. Why do we buy McMansions with three car garages, jacuzzis and opulent kitchens, and payments that slowly crush us? Veblen knows. Your boat, your vacation, your membership in the gym? It's all about the bling, baby. 
Veblen finds replications of this behavior across time and culture. It crosses lines of class and race. If Veblen were alive today, he would not find us difficult to recognize or understand. Foxes or Hedgehogs, we're all too human."
More on the Theory of the Leisure Class here. The Dublin working class playwright Brendan Behan, a staunch Irish Republican, saw the Anglo-Irish as Ireland's leisure class and famously defined an Anglo-Irishman as "a Protestant with a horse".

Read about the rise of the servant economy on Vox here.  Lisa Pollack wrote in the FT about ”Job Porn”, that "Career change can all too often be a fantasy". And flaneurs, listen to Laura Elkin talk about the Flaneuse here.

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