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🤯Unknown Unknowns #112 - Bullshit Jobs
What does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law? - David Graeber
David Graeber asks this question in his essay, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. With all the gains in productivity, why are all of our jobs so much bullshit? His conclusion is that because 1% of the population controls most of the disposable wealth, they use it to maintain that hierarchy.
I don’t know if I fully agree with that sentiment, but I agree that money shapes the culture. Work is creating something of value in exchange for money. But value is subjective, what one person finds valuable, others will not. And those with money, use that money to have what they find valuable created. If you want to make money, you need to create what people with money find valuable.
Why do I rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. - Willie Sutton
The easy path is to go where the money is - the 1% as Graeber points out. But when you make that choice, you’re also voting for their values. You’re using your talents to produce something that is against your taste. It took me over eighteen years to understand that was untenable for me.
You need to find the people who value what you value and produce for them.
1️⃣ Jack Raines talks about the eternal procrastination of freedom.
After spending 22 years preparing for this moment of unbounded freedom, we spend the next 40 years squandering this freedom making money that we don't need to buy stuff that we don't want to impress people that we don't care about to maybe, if we are lucky, spend our excess cash in retirement when it is least valuable to us because of our limited energy.
2️⃣read Straw Dogs, by John Gray.
From the book:
We are terrified that we are useless.
Many trends in industrial societies lead to a future where humans are supported by machines, just as our ancestors were by wildlife. We are approaching a time when almost all humans work to amuse other humans. The old industries have been exported to the developing world. At home, new occupations have evolved, replacing those of the industrial era. The function of this new economy, legal and illegal, is to entertain and distract a population which, though it is busier than ever before, secretly suspects that it is useless.
When we feel useless and we have no control over our lives, we tune out. We try to avoid confronting, we turn to drugs, video games, porn, distraction, anything. Because in a society where your productivity, your output, and your control are kind of the main good, idleness is a sin. It's something we feel guilty about.
3️⃣talks to about the Pathless Path.
Paul Millerd: A lot of people are trying to do things that are hard. Because of our scripts we need to suffer, you need to sacrifice, you need to do all these things. How have you thought more about this?
David Perell: Well, yeah. This is the problem. So what is the fundamental script of school? You will do well if you get good at doing things that you don't want to do and be disciplined in doing those things. The fundamental script of the pathless path is “you will do well if you find the things that are that are uniquely easy and enjoyable for you and get aligned with those things and then go follow that.” Those are such separate messages and the school message has us trapped because it creates a culture where a bunch of people are doing things that they don't want to do.
4️⃣ Morgan Housel writes about the difference between intelligence and smarts.
It’s why the world is filled with intelligent jerks who have gone nowhere, and middling students who struggled through calculus but go on to live successful, happy lives.
Quote of the Week:
“All of our great artistic and religious traditions take equally great pains to inform us that we must never mistake a good career for good work. Life is a creative, intimate, and unpredictable conversation if it is nothing else, spoken or unspoken, and our life and our work are both the result of the particular way we hold that passionate conversation.” - David Whyte
You can find more of my writing at chr.iswong.com.
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Leaving you in peace,