Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Growing Up Absurd (2)

In my posting called "Growing Up Absurd (1)" I asked whether most jobs today were any less absurd than the jobs of the judges, lawyers, and other officials in the legal bureaucracy in Franz Kafka's "The Trial". I cited the jobs of generals and soldiers; the jobs of men who make weapons for them; the jobs of the men in that part of the jail system dedicated to keeping drug-users and drug-sellers behind bars; and the jobs of teachers of history in schools.

Although these are "public sector" jobs, they are, apart from the teaching jobs, the sort of public sector jobs that normal men like you think are worthwhile. Normal men like you agree, do you not, that you can never have too many generals and soldiers, and guns and tanks and fighter planes, and jail guards and jails.

I'm going to turn today to jobs in the "private sector". Although, as a normal man, you'll believe as a self-evident truth that all jobs in the "private sector" are worthwhile jobs and therefore not absurd jobs, is it possible you're wrong?

Do you, by chance, work for an organisation that makes or distributes potato chips, popcorn, cheese-whizzes, nachos, fizzy pop drinks, and their like? Or perhaps you work in a hamburger joint, or are the manager of one? If so, your job is in the service of making or selling foods that make your customers unhealthy, so that your foods will kill them if they eat enough of it.

But, even if your customers don't eat enough of your foods to kill them directly, to the extent that they do eat them, they will suffer clogged arteries and high blood pressure that will lead them to expensive heart operations and imbibing expensive drugs that the taxpayer will have to pay for.

Perhaps, though, you work for an organisation entirely different, like a news organisation. Maybe you're a journalist, or an editor, or a television news-reader with expensive hair. If so, you'll surely know that the news you give out is not to educate your readers or viewers, but to distract them from what's really going on, or to frighten them so they'll keep coming back for more.

You may work in advertising, so that your job is to persuade people to buy things they don't need, or don't really want.

Or you may work on Wall Street and routinely do the sorts of things that nearly caused the world's economic system to crash not so long ago.

If you work in any of the jobs I've just talked about, your job is absurd, as absurd as the jobs of the judges and lawyers and officials in The Trial, as absurd as a job where you're paid to dig holes and then immediately fill them again.

The real difference between your job, and the jobs of men who dig holes and immediately fill them again, is that they'll know their jobs are absurd, whereas you either don't know your job is absurd, or you don't want to know. Even if you suspect your job is absurd, you must pretend it isn't, otherwise you'll be fired and your little world will collapse.

Have you wondered about all the jobs people do for nothing, the volunteer jobs that make people's lives better and make cities better places to live in? These are non-absurd jobs, but no-one wants to pay people to do them. Isn't this absurd? Nyaaah, you don't want to think about that........

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