The lapse of luxury

"It is bitter to have loved and lost than never to laugh it off," Bamuall Subtler

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

fag of freedom flying

I'm preparing to reenter the workforce and dread it. Work feels like slavery. "I'm gainfuly unemployed," I once said after quitting a demoralizing job.

When defining slavery and employment, I'm slippery between synonyms. Slavery is bowing to work under threat. There are also dire consequences if we don't work for money: a life of poverty and severe limitations on where we go, what we eat, medical attention, friends, etc. We don't use the phrase wage slave to be ironic -- we often believe and behave as slaves. I gotta, I must, I haveta.

If working for money is the opposite of slavery then freedom is money, or freedom can be bought for money. Maybe we can agree money buys power. Let's shake on it: the opposite of slavery is not freedom but power.

When I shout "I need freedom," I euphemistically intone, "I want power." Wanting power is not a bad thing. I need control over objects and influence people to get food, shelter, etc. But we are nice people and will keep saying we want "choices", "liberty", "freedom" -- while blithely hoping for pain-free and fear-free circumstances.

If there is a state of freedom -- IF -- it is the belief that I can make pleasurable choices. I say pleasurable because I can't ignore the positive emotional exudation of the word "freedom". It's abit like a religion; there is no freedom without belief. When we believe we are free we become factories manufacturing choices. Just watch me, I can, I will, why not?

But I'm no believer. I can't believe in abstractions. The best I can do is pull on a persona of hope. And I'm not playing cynical; masks restore damaged skin.



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