Yesterday, I was reading "What Work Is Really For," in my beloved New York Times. I love articles on this topic, and there have been a few lately. They always seem to say something along the lines of "We should work less!" or at least that we should feel less guilty about not working.
Or something like that.
This one takes the "Work is a means to an end, there to give you time to smell the roses" conceit somewhere else though. The premise of "What Work Is Really For" is that we are controlled by the market, as opposed to the other way around (which Capitalims would have us believe). So it is hard for us to tell what would be life-improving for us; we just buy crap because it's there and we can (Snuggie!).
The author concludes by turning his attention to Education, which he says must "aim to produce self-determining agents who can see through the blandishments of the market and insist that the market provide what they themselves have decided they need to lead fulfilling lives."
This assumes that consumers would buy only what they "need to lead fulfilling lives." But whose life are we fulfilling? You might be fulfilled by the purchase of a Snuggie, while I would choose, say, chocolate. Improvement in subjective in all (debatable?) cases.
This is interesting in light of the recent discussion of genre vs Lit-rature. To be sure, there is a "market" for books. And many, many good-ish things don't get published because the market says they shouldn't (with editors and agents being the interpreters of the market which, swallow the bile! they are qualified to do).
But isn't it great that such a wide breadth of fiction gets published? it's not perfect, but the mix of what's available is astonishing. With the rise of indies and self-publishing, that mix only stands to get richer and more complex.
Who says there's any standard (or teachable) way to "lead a fulfilling life," no matter what good or service we're talking about (ChatRoulette!). I say put it out there and let the market decide (you just might not have a publicist).