No Hindrances

A student sent me an email expressing a hope that failing to show up for the oral exam and the final as well as missing the last 7 weeks of class “will not hinder the final grade.”

No, none of this will hinder the failing grade from being entered into the system.

A Failed Critique of Endless Toil

I just read the funniest article ever. A journalist criticizes the terror or rest and enjoyment and makes some very good points:

Recently, I saw a man on the Tube wearing a Nike T-shirt with a slogan that read, in its entirety, “I’m doing work”. The idea that playing sport or doing exercise needs to be justified by calling it a species of work illustrates the colonisation of everyday life by the devotion to toil.

Marriage is hard work, you did a good job tying your shoe-laces, we need to work on our relationship, parenting is the hardest job in the world – all these expressions imply that an activity, no matter how lofty or trivial, needs to be classified as “work” or “job” if it is to have any value or dignity whatsoever. If something isn’t a job, then it might turn out to be fun and enjoyable. And one will certainly die of guilt if it turns out that s/he is simply enjoying life.

Sadly, an article that starts so well soon gets caught in a web of its own internal contradictions. The author criticizes productivity apps and time management tools for. . . preventing people from doing something useful:

The paradox of the autodidactic productivity industry of GTD, Lifehacker and the endless reviews of obscure mind-mapping or task-management apps is that it is all too easy to spend one’s time researching how to acquire the perfect set of productivity tools and strategies without ever actually settling down to do something.

It is strange to see a condemnation of useless loafing in an article that sets out to praise useless loafing. Instead of feeling encouraged by the inventiveness of people who can use even productivity apps to have some unproductive, mindless fun, this author criticizes such folks for not being productive every second of every day.

The conclusion to this article about the evils of endless toil and soul-crushing daily grind of capitalist societies is the following:

Perhaps I shouldn’t mock. All that time saved every morning by knowing the exact location of the baseball cap you want to wear will surely add up, earning you hours more freedom to hunt and hoard ever more productivity tips, until you are a purely theoretical master at doing nothing of value in the most efficient way imaginable.

People shouldn’t have silly, unproductive hobbies and should avoid “doing nothing of value” because that makes them ridiculous, the author suggests. The most hilarious thing about this piece is that its author is entirely oblivious to the inconsistency of his approach towards the relentless drive towards 100% productivity. On the one hand, he seems to abhor it but, at the same time, seeing people lounge about causes profound existential angst that makes him contradict his own argument.