I’m reading Studs Terkel’s Working:People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. I’m not exactly sure why I chose this books, but in part, it has to be because I currently have a full-time, 9-5 job, commute and all, for the first time in a very long time and I’m finding it tough to adapt. I’m also trying to reconcile the conflict that I see in the naivety of thinking something like “fuck work”, which I’ve heard a million times in DIY punk lyrics, and really feeling that working full time doesn’t afford me, and likely many others, very much time to do things that are meaningful in life.
I’m only into the introduction of the book, but so far I’ve come across a few snippets that seem relevant to these questions:
“… his work at least gives him a secure place in a portion of reality, in the human community …” – Sigmund Freud, quoted from Civilization and Its Discontents
“Learning is work.Â Caring for children is work.Â Community action is work. Once we accept the concept of work as something meaningful-not just as the source of a buck-you don’t have to worry about finding enough jobs. There’s no excuse for mules any more. Society does not need them. There’s no question about our ability to feed and clothe and house everybody.Â The problem is going to come in finding enough ways for man to keep occupied, so he’s in touch with reality.” – Ralph Helstein
These two quotations sum up my conflict – not working seems to disconnect one from reality in a way, because work is such a huge part of so many’s reality.Â However, work disconnects one from reality in other ways.Â I want to believe that Helstein is right, that we can define work in different ways so that we can really be “in touch with reality”.