Is thinking actual 'work'?
When people say make something of yourself what if you just make nothing of yourself instead
We can all use extra time to think
My Capricorn ass would shame me for not being my most productive self. If I were to watch TV or play Animal Crossing, I’d have a critical voice in my head telling me it’s not the ideal way to spend time.
That’s dumb because it’s my time and I can choose how to spend it.
Yet, I am trying to be more intentional with using my time to do nothing. For example, a routine I maintain is running every-other morning. This week, I now fill a thermos with coffee after I wake up. I take my coffee and I walk on the days I choose not to run. I soak up the sun so I kick S.A.D. in the ass. I ignore my phone on my walk. I feel the uneven brick under my sneakers. The leaves crunch with each step. I let my mind wander. It’s unstructured time to think over shit.
In the last post for this newsletter, I shared a link for Pilvi Takala’s performance piece The Trainee. You can go to the link for the video documentation, here. In the video, the workers in the accounting firm are alarmed because Takala isn’t seen working. She is doing work, though. She’s thinking. Let the MF think.
Takala is documented sitting at her desk doing nothing. She is documented riding up and down in an elevator doing nothing. Anti-work, if you want to call it that.
If you’re thinking about the work, are you doing the work?
It’s funny because it goes against the expectations of looking busy or proclaiming you are busy.
But really, how is this different from you or your co-worker opening a browser tab on their computer for online shopping or for scrolling social media? That's not a task related to work. That’s killing time for your boss.
When I read about the performance piece in Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: How To Resist The Attention Economy, this was my takeaway: the choice to opt out of reacting to busyness is a form of resistance. It goes against conformity if a person chooses to not fill their empty time with busyness.
From Takala’s website,
It is non-doing that lacks a place in the general order of things, and thus it is a threat to order.
I'm not against goal setting. I'm not against tackling projects.
However, I want to think critically about the intentions of opting into projects to keep me busy. For real, structure benefits me. But how many artists have you spoken to that make work back-to-back with no breather in between?
A pause is important to be here in the present. A place of rest is necessary to choose how to move forward in the future.
Art exists because you can’t just consume only pop culture
I think one of the functions art currently has in the world is to let you consume it because honestly, I can't consume on pop culture alone. Consume it and be inspired by it. Then, you make more art.
Pop culture is addictive. It exists because it’s pleasurable. For example, I like Bruno Mars. I first drafted this post with the track “Leave the Door Open” on repeat.
Of course, I don’t always trust the intentions of pop culture. Like, when will there not be a for-profit motive for an album drop or a film release?
Pop culture cannot function without a for-profit motive
The point I make here is art should be produced outside the confines of capitalism. It’s dicey when capitalism weaves into the making and the sharing of art.
See, some pop culture is your friend’s boyfriend that you pretend is cool. But, you harbor an animosity, because maybe he can be dumb as bricks. Probably, he is below mediocrity. Maybe his intelligence is the equivalent of a hot trash racoon.
I take that back, hot trash racoons probably take better thirst trap pictures than me.
Maybe, you held high hopes the current boyfriend would be more refined and emotionally smarter than the last boyfriend. But, he’s still the same.
Your friend should probably date someone different
Do we know why this boyfriend behaves this way? I don't know. Maybe he’s for the lowest common denominator. Maybe your friend cannot visualize a different reality. Art can change our minds and guide us to imagine a different reality. It can be a reality that’s beautiful.
Again, I don’t knock off pop culture. Pop culture benefits me. It’s one of my favorite soft drinks.
“Art and Capital Have Become Nearly Indistinguishable” by James Rushing Daniel. The contemporary art market needs to stop, y’all…
As artists increasingly turn toward anti-capitalist criticism, often openly excoriating the conditions of financialization and overvaluation dominant in the contemporary art world, it is an open question whether art has the capacity to resist its own commodification and capitalism writ large.
r/LinkedInLunatics is a pool of cringe screenshots from LinkedIn. The virtue signaling and the bullshit job titles are plenty in this subreddit.
Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self by Manoush Zomorodi. I read Bored and Brilliant so I can be comfortable with boredom. If Do Nothing is a manifesto on why we should be resistant to busyness, then Bored and Brilliant is the instruction manual on how to be…bored.
Camille Paglia ripped apart Susan Sontag in the interview below. Sontag is “boring” and “solipsistic”. I had to look up what solipsistic means. Why are the words coming out of her mouth moving faster than the timer on-screen?
My fiancé, Eve, shared wonderful edits for this post. Thank you for sharing 💖.
Thanks for listening,