Whether you are into myths or not, you’ve surely heard about this dude, Sisyphus. He invented trekking. He was also a king. And like most kings, he was a dick. He managed to do the only thing you should avoid if find yourself in a Greek mythology: he pissed off the Gods. So the Gods summoned their court jester slash strategy consultant, Attila the Hun to fix him a punishment.
Sisyphus’ punishment was to roll a moon-sized boulder up a hill, watch it roll back down because you know how hills work, head back down which must have been relatively less tiring as downhills generally are, and begin rolling up all over again. And he had to do for the rest of his life. I know you are thinking he got off easy, but here’s the savage part: he did this before the iPod.
Now, that’s inspiring.
Man created the machine in his own image, which explains our fear of the bots. Because, if the bots replicate themselves in our image, the Greek Gods won’t just be myths anymore. The earth needs a Deus ex machina and we are building it. Meanwhile, I am doing my best to appeal to a Roman audience.
Machines are measured by their productivity. One easy way to achieve this is to keep the machine running for longer. Another is increasing the speed of the machine. So we designed machines that were capable of doing both.
And we did the exact same thing with our lives.
It’s why when we say hard-work it often means long-work. Our idea of productivity is a function of the number of hours spent doing. Anything. It’s the pandemic started by our education system.
We’ve recreated ourselves in the machine’s image. It’s why even our recreation feels like work. (You are full of shit, trekking.) It’s how we’ve confronted the reality that we are, for the most part, useless. We call it hard work because it is less about what needs to get done and more about how hard it is to do something. The two are mutually exclusive.
The real idiocy is how much hard-workers love to complicate things, the belief being whatever is hard to do must be important. And the corollary of this belief is equally batshit: something complex cannot be wrong. The problem with most work ethic is that it requires you to work so hard so you don’t have to ask yourself if what you are doing is ethical or not.
Most hard work is a result of us trying to find out what more we can do with our lives. It’s why it feels so noble and justified. So arousing.
Hard-work is motivation’s filler word. It’s using Promethean ingenuity to set everyone’s asses on fire instead of discovery. To keep moving not in an attempt to find out more about yourself as much an attempt to never find out You are Sisyphus. When you do, here’s some consolation from the suicide prevention hotline’s employee of the month, Albert Camus: “One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
Utopia isn’t an ideal. It’s a place where hard-work is redundant. It’s a time when humans work to have interesting experiences, follow their imperfections and luxuriate in the casualness of creativity. To imagine happiness, we must know what happiness looks like.