What I do, not what I say
If I do not do,
do I not have a say?
Why is it enough to tell you what I do?
For a living?
When I would much prefer to tell you what I am?When I feel alive?
Slogans to believe in:
'Arbeit macht frei'
'careers for life'
your career for my life?
'fair exchange is no robbery'...
Freedom to relate
freedom to individuate
freedom to sleep in late
The concentration camp transposed to the corporate cubicle
defined by our employment status
of the boardroom
With so many people out of work and looking for work now there are important questions it is tempting to overlook in this atmosphere of ambient economic and cultural anxiety. These are questions that have a significant bearing on our future relation to the culture of employment, perpetual questions such as:
What the world calls 'work', is that what we call' work'?
Why do we work?
What do I call myself:
Employer or employee?
Drone or director?
Wage-slave or new-wave?
What I call myself, must it be simply a derivative of what I do?
Before this recession there had been extraordinary changes in our relation to work: the traditional 'job for life' had been replaced by the 'mid-life crisis', the idea of re-training and re-education in one's middle age was becoming the new tradition. A generation of serfs were being superseded by a generation of self-starters. We were raising children to believe they could be whatever they wished. Celebrity programmes and the internet offered everyone the chance to have much longer than Andy Warhol's proposed fifteen minutes of fame. The world was our oyster and we were each a grain of sand that could yet become a pearl.
The economists warn that this recession may be followed by a depression. I agree. But the depression I fear is one of hopelessness, lost dreams, flattened expectations, destroyed ideals. So, I urge you to consider once more: What do I call myself? What I call myself, must it be simply a derivative of what I do? What I call myself, is that the limit of what I can be?
We all recognise the joke because it has universal appeal:
"Help! Help! My son - the engineer - is drowning!"
Who does she fear losing: 'son' or 'engineer'?
Meanwhile, here's Sinead singing of two lovers who have only love, of a suitor who will not be slighted for his lack of worldly goods...