Permanent Vacation

The time/money equation is not very clear. Time is of less value when experienced without the buffer that money provides; experienced ‘head on’, time is crushing in its vastness and apparent lack of meaning. Money acquires much of its utility in its ability to reroute time through directed activity (let’s take an uncreative example here- buying a lambchop, and then a candle to make it look nice on the plate). The ‘pursuit of happiness’ in the contemporary sense often is nothing other than tinkering with the scales of balance between time and money- finding enough time to spend your money, or acquiring enough money to spend so that time doesn’t make it’s oppressive presence felt. Being of the mind that time (specifically experience) is more valuable than money (potential), I have structured my life so as to more often be endowed with a surplus of time than of money. This has worked out ok so far, as I have been surrounded by like-minded individuals with whom to share this overabundance of experience (and I’m being very generous here by making time a synonym for experience- it is more than likely that it is only the presence of others that have allowed this rationalization and conflation of terms). But, removing these individuals and replacing them with their avatars on the internet in the past few weeks has left me, once again, a little confused as to how and why I have structured my life like this.

Because I am able to provide for myself on a very basic level (I am able to eat (though I did balk and frown at the brown maggots in my rice this morning before grimly picking them out and consuming the rice with a resultant pride), sleep in a house (in which I walk softly in order to make it appear I am not there), bathe (using others shampoo) etc.), my experience is more akin to being on a very prolonged and cheap vacation than struggling for a meager subsistence. When threatened with absolute privation, I am able to summon elements of my various privileges to keep me from slipping in class (whether this involves sleeping on a fellow artist’s floor or being able to land a crappy service industry job that would not be available to the illiterate maimed). But with my ability to survive unthreatened a chief motivator of the urge to ascend in class has been removed. Joining the elite seems impossible due to the various safeguards that have been put in place to keep the lazy and rebellious from stumbling on in to their comfy echelons, and as a result I instead must rely on either hedonism or the ethic of ‘improvement’ as motivators for the actions I must take to lessen the mental impact of the time void yawning in front of me. Both of these motivators require a bit of narcissism, and as a result I have developed an anxiety that stems directly from my refusal to acknowledge narcissism as a sufficiently ethical motivator while still modeling my lifestyle around its unpleasant requests. The chief way in which this anxiety manifests is to complicate the manner in which I experience my ‘free’ time. And although this article isn’t funny at all, it is pretty funny how I end up trying to maneuver around this blockage in my life- this article (as well as others) being a primary manifestation of the problem as well as an attempt to solve it. So in an extremely dry, general sense, this article is as funny as any other endeavor with premises that preclude the content (the profound tweet, the master’s degree in art administration, the shrug etc.). Not laugh out loud funny, that’s for sure.

Having recently moved to a new city, I am constantly asked the question “what do you want to do?” As you can see, it’s complicated. I suppose what I ultimately want to do is rewrite this article from the vantage point of a person who is ‘experiencing the world’  rather than from the point of view of someone who is ‘experiencing themselves (in the world)’ (experiencing alienation). This is the difference between someone who is on vacation and someone who is at work. Uneasy in the workplace, in which I am unable to discern which circuitous path will lead me towards any goal other than that of earning an increased wage in an atmosphere of diminishing physical and mental discomfort (but always retaining the fundamental discomfort of ‘working for…’ i.e. of sublimation), I am unable to make the sacrifices that actual advancement requires. Equally uneasy in vacationland, in which I am unable to extract enough pleasure from time to justify its passing (without the experiential structure provided by expensive drugs or travel), I am unable to relinquish the idea that every moment not spent in hedonistic bliss is a moment of squandered productive capacity. The ‘art’ that results is nothing more than an anxious response to this unresolvable problem. Keeping this in mind, it is increasingly difficult to see anything other than this anxious response in every artifact engendered by my experience of unstructured time- they are all just little impositions of structure; direct contradictions of the premise that freedom is the absence of imposed structures (limitations) on human potential. It ends up appearing as though my freedom consists of my decisions of when and how to articulate the anxieties that arise from compromise, which is not the best for a life goal. What do I want to do? Transform my vacation into work and then take a real vacation from it.

I am tempted here to get into a ‘discussion’ about addiction and repetitive behavior in general as the most common solution to this quandary but I’m sure everyone knows my point already so I won’t belabor it (‘addiction is addictive because of its ability to structure time, congratulations Dyl you figured it out’). What’s more interesting I think is to provide an example so y’all can laugh at the manner in which I flail in the vortex. Last night, disgruntled by my own inability to fully enjoy the hedonistic way in which I spent the day (eating food, listening to baseball in the van, swimming in a swimming pool, drinking beer, reading frivolous articles on the internet and watching a nature documentary in untranslated dutch which I couldn’t understand- all activities which have been divested of some of their charm due to my own routinization of them), I resolved that the next day, this Monday, I would reorient myself towards production and achieve satisfaction from ‘work’ (which, without compensation, loses much of its clarity and is experienced more as rerouted leisure). What a gas. I got up after lying in bed ‘only’ ten minutes after I woke up, then read news websites, made coffee, rice and fish, ate it slowly, refrigerated some water for later, drank more coffee, read some financial articles that I told myself reflected the way in which the world is administered and were thus beneficial to read, put my t shirts in one pile and long sleeve shirts in another pile (plus some t shirts I didn’t like in a bag), uploaded a video that anyone who cares has already seen to youtube and sat down to write this article. Now would you call this day any more productive than yesterday? LOL.

Ultimately what’s missing here is interaction. Without a community both creative work and hedonistic activities fall back upon the weak little individual to justify, something he cannot hope to manage on his own. The online community of quips and congratulations doesn’t have enough presence when I get up and move around the room. Being unable to afford to do things that aren’t almost completely free (excluding the gas it takes to drive somewhere near), I am separated from a large swath of people (moving around in the world requires money). It’s an interesting place to be, on permanent vacation out here in fantasy land. It leads to time usurpation practices like the one I’ve hopefully just tricked you into participating in with me. Thanks sucker.


  1. Jay Freeman

    I have been tricked. The concept of freedom as a commodity and the necessity forced upon an individual by the world of purchasing said freedom is one that has plagued me for the past few years. As I have settled into “a real job” – a horrifying thought at times – the realization that my ability to do a wider variety of things has increased inversely proportional to my time available to do those things. This is perhaps not intellectually profound, but when the thought occasional hits one upon waking, it can be crushingly depressing.

    I have little to offer in the way of insight into your conundrum, so I hope you can settle for an “Amen, Brother.”

  2. I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. Or at least it speaks to me now that I don’t have a job to structure my time. Keep writing. Please.

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