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hasty entrenchment


“Of all things, hard work has become a virtue instead of the curse it was always advertised to be by our remote ancestors. Our children should be prepared to bring their children up so they won’t have to work as a neurotic necessity. The necessity to work is a neurotic symptom. It is a crutch. It is an attempt to make oneself feel valuable even though there is no particular need for one’s working.”

–discussion in a 1940s Psychiatry magazine

You make shoes for women, you clean people’s teeth, you teach driving (with your own brakes), you run a wedding chapel in Las Vegas, you sell houses, you pray with people, you clean corpses, you review ballet, you pick fruit (you are spiritual, oppressed), you invent products seen on TV, you manage a second-rate drugstore with dusty shampoo bottles, you answer phones at a prison, you clean hotel rooms (for cheap, nasty guests), you collect garbage on the beach, you tweet for a celebrity, you are a line cook, a prep cook, a rebellious chef, you sell herbs at a Farmers’ Market, you drive a bus, you translate, you dictate, you fight wars, you mix drinks (switching bars often), you recycle batteries, you take passport-sized photos, you sell socks at the airport, you repair refrigerators, you deliver babies in bath tubs, you write warranties, you hang rope-swings over rivers for people who like to take chances.

Image is/was “Hasty Entrenchment,’ gouache on paper, by Frederic Remington (1861-1909)

Well said. I think you are right to interpret the quote as critical of the intrinsic value of our work rather than doubting the necessity for doing something purposeful and meaningful with our time each day. I was drawn to the quote because it’s absurd, but also sincere in its wish for a more meaningful way to live. Because it’s from a nineteen-forties psychiatry convention it carries an almost precious, dated respect for the notion of people being neurotic. This was back when neurotic was a word that carried some weight. Psychiatrists were hoping to cure neurotics. Now we accept that our entire world is neurotic, if not worse. Probably worse. Thank you for your comment.

The only thing worse than being employed, is NOT being employed. It is unfortunate that we label people by their job and not by who they are. The great majority go to jobs that they hate, to buy things that they don’t need and eventually end up in boxes in the trash or yard sale. Why is it a reqirement for a boss to be an a–hole? Happy workers are more productive. Living Monday to Friday is the hell of those who do no live in L.A. or D.C.

Why do you think that Monday to Friday isn’t hell for people in D.C., too? I can’t speak for L.A. but, trust me, D.C. sure ain’t no paradise.

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