I am sorry that the last post caused a few people to write in, as it was just supposed to be an admission of having nothing very interesting to offer. If I have cancer or some shit I will write, ‘I have cancer or some shit’.
There is no mystery. This is a process that everyone knows; of being dragged away from what you should be doing to trivia that others think more important. Let’s have a drinking game; every time I mention something that you’ve experienced, take a swig.
* Your workplace is so pleased that they move you on to some other role in which you have no experience. You now have to find somebody to take over your old role and train them as well as learn the new job.
* It’s a management role. That is, it involves telling people that they can’t have things. Which makes you have to stay ‘on message’ and smile falsely while people get upset at what you are saying. As you place this mask on your face you realise that if you leave it there too long it may never come off.
* More meetings where people have ‘frank discussions’ that are like a goldfish swimming miserably around a bowl. Actually, just more bloody meetings. They all end up with the power structure of the company being used to break the inevitable deadlock.
* You know what will be expected of you at least 9 months in advance. Like you’re in one of Temple Grandin’s cattle machines.
* You’re required to write professionally about things which you know to be indescribable and intuitive. Like writing 70,000 words about ‘green’ or ‘fun’. This is simultaneously stupid and pretentious. Whenever your blather gets up to speed – you’re interrupted by another meeting.
* Death and Taxes.
* Your addictions, be they heroin or the App Store, become overt. You know that you really don’t need that second chicken for breakfast, that boxed set of Gilligan’s Island DVDs or another red smoking jacket with tassels. Actually it’s not being greedy, but being greedy while being annoyed with yourself for being greedy. The annoyance is the problem. And that you don’t really enjoy these things as much as you thought you would when you were poorer.
* No one is particularly interested to hear about any of this – in fact the closer people are to you, the more likely they just want to tell you about THEIR problems in an endless hysterical tirade. Which makes you realise that no one really wants to hear about YOUR problems and so you just don’t bother.
That’s enough, let’s turn this into something useful. It requires a lot of luck to do what you want when you want. For every David Byrne touring around the planet making the same minor point for twenty minutes there’s a million others that could swap in without much notice – but they didn’t make it. Wrong room, wrong party. For every Apple or Hewlett Packard there’s a hundred garages in Palo Alto where the inventors ended up sipping from the exhaust pipe. Every break you get you should thank your preferred deity. Or that you weren’t delivered in some era where cupping & leeches were the remedy for everything. Or Angola.
Acknowledging that we’re really not that badly off there’s still some bad deal going down when bright happy and productive youth keep turning into grumpy middle managers. When young you think you’ll never be like that – somehow you’re going to get off the conveyor belt before the bucket at the end. That’s what my students probably think, that I am some kind of caution sign. YOU COULD END UP LIKE THIS.
It was apparently Rev. William Sloane Coffin that said “Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.” Coffin was a clergyman that upheld the socialist, tolerant, inclusive credo that ‘Christianity’ is supposed to denote. Champion of the draft dodgers, the gays, the poor. As well as concert pianist, CIA operative, member of the Skull and Bones with Bush Snr. Basically one of those people who could do any damn thing they chose and ended up doing their best by everyone. Coffin excelled at everything and feared no man.
A few people like that makes up for a lot of what the other hippies have bequeathed our age – the contemporary idea that advertising is a fundamental human relationship.
So what do you do? Quit? Go join a commune and live off turnips? No, political and managerial power will only be held by heartless people if everyone with a heart refuses to engage with it. You will lose some heart but perhaps you will give some to others. And I guess that any prominence earns hatred, so you may as well be go ahead and make the hate worth it. But put a deadline on it, because creativity is just as valuable as politics.
A cut off point. I give this about a year, then I’m scheduling a mid life crisis, complete with motor bike. Sounds fair.