Saturday, 2 January 2016

Work is a four-letter word

For most of us, this weekend will bring the revelling to a close - although you might consider extending things a little:
Futures Forum: Saint Monday: in defence of skiving

Tonight's edition of Archive on 4 looked at the world of work:

Work Is a Four Letter Word

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Many of us have grown up with the belief that a strong work ethic is a positive thing, and that by contrast idle hands are the devil's playthings. 
According to Professor Andrew Hussey, that argument makes very little sense. 
Starting off with a line from the Cilla Black song 'Work is a Four Letter Word' he offers a powerful counter-argument by navigating the ideas of, among others, Bertrand Russell, John Ruskin and the Situationists in France, whose graffiti slogan 'Ne Travaillez Jamais' - never work - still appears regularly on Parisian streets. 
Hussey argues that the corporate culture in particular, born out of mid-20th Century America and built upon ideologies of work developed during the industrial revolution and on through to the development of the assembly line, can have a hugely corrosive impact on people's lives. 
The programme features the voices of workers from the 1930s through to the present day, describing working life in call centres where even a trip to the toilet is timed by management. 
Hussey doesn't however suggest that we all take to the sofa to watch TV and eat crisps, though; instead he argues that by taking control of the work we do and the way we do it, work can actually become a positive force in our lives, once stripped of what he regards as the caustic power of modern managerialism.

BBC Radio 4 - Archive on 4, Work Is a Four Letter Word

See also:
The Revolution Of Everyday Life: Raoul Vaneigem, Donald Nicholson-Smith: 9780946061013: Amazon.com: Books
Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing: Andrew Smart: 9781939293107: Amazon.com: Books

And a little poetry:

Philip Larkin - Toads

Why should I let the toad work
  Squat on my life?
Can't I use my wit as a pitchfork
  And drive the brute off?

Six days of the week it soils 
  With its sickening poison -
Just for paying a few bills!
  That's out of proportion.

Lots of folk live on their wits:
  Lecturers, lispers,
Losels, loblolly-men, louts-
  They don't end as paupers;

Lots of folk live up lanes
  With fires in a bucket,
Eat windfalls and tinned sardines-
  they seem to like it.

Their nippers have got bare feet,
  Their unspeakable wives
Are skinny as whippets - and yet
  No one actually starves.

Ah, were I courageous enough 
  To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that's the stuff
  That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
  Squats in me, too;
Its hunkers are heavy as hard luck,
  And cold as snow,

And will never allow me to blarney
  My way of getting
The fame and the girl and the money
  All at one sitting.

I don't say, one bodies the other
  One's spiritual truth;
But I do say it's hard to lose either,
  When you have both.

Toads - A poem by Philip Larkin - Poetry Connection

Video: Philip Larkin reads his poem Toads - audio - Telegraph

And lastly:
Futures Forum: Live more: work less... earn less... spend less... emit and degrade less
Futures Forum: The four-hour working week, the sharing economy and going beyond the master-servant relationship

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