Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Workers Are Really For

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).


  1. Agree Meredith. There are multiple items and pieces of literature that have become quite popular though not every one feels they are essential to leading a fulfilling life.

    There is no standard, no rule or law. Everything is subjective (my Snuggie is my treasure) to the wants and needs of the individual, though a few excited individuals can produce a mass flock of desperate Snuggie buyers.

    I like the current mix and can't wait to see what the future holds for the realm of publishing.

  2. Exactly. You said it very well.

    Nice to see you blogging again!