I’m begining to feel increasingly trapped. It’s hard to be an idealist when confronted with such a soul sucking reality. Fun times with capitalist society and its extractory expectations. Somehow I’m made to feel like a failure because I don’t prescribe to the cookie cutter existence that is being shoved down my throat. School, job, marriage, children – a pancake mix life, just add your blood, sweat and tears. This is not to say that these things are intrisically bad but the way we’re pushed towards them, how they become markers of a life well lived is daunting.
My body is posited as a force of production primarily so I am only useful when I can produce. “Idleness” is our Big Bad (definetly the root of ableism imo). The way we think of time off, weekends, holidays, hobbies makes me weary. They’re just the things we do on The Side. But is The Side not where life is? Cliché but this society effectively makes us live to work instead of working to live. Work days are longer, time off a luxury. Why is it that my time is only useful if I’m producing something for monetary consumption?
I want to keep my idealism but I’m not stupid either. I don’t want to keep shaving off parts of myself just so I can afford rent and food. I’m left jagged and aimless in the monotone humdrum of modern life. I have no interest in certain industries because of their contributions to the military-industrial complex, I’m constantly riding myself raw because of the products I use (no ethical consumption in the capitalist world) but I try to remain pragmatic about my approach – I know the kinds of skills that will let me survive and maybe even thrive in the world and I do continue to develop them, skills that make me as independent from the hold of the mainstream workforce and the superstructure it helps maintain as possible.
I don’t want my livelihood to be dependent on me performing pointless acts with unseen consequences especially if the result is me personally creating more value for some faceless CEO in a day than I’ll see in a month. There has to be more to life.
Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” chronicles the life of Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman who wakes up one day transformed into a hideous giant bug. His ability to verbally communicate with others is gone and we witness the deterioration of his family’s relationship with him.
Samsa, having been the primary bread winner for the family pre-transformation, has now become obsolete in his home. His family first takes care of him out of duty but as the story progresses it is clear they no longer see the humanity in him and begin to treat him like vermin. His room is literally turned into the house dumpster and the consideration that used to go into his care-taking becomes non existent. The foreshadowing of Samsa’s ultimate demise is probably this particularly tragic scene where he gets stoned into oblivion with apples by his father, the latter thinking Samsa was endangering his wife.
What makes the story more poignant is that we see all these events unfold through Samsa’s point of view. It is ironic that Samsa has the most human characterization. He is considerate, kind and empathetic to the plight of his family, while they, in return, grow cold and distant when they realize he is now useless to them. To be fair, they’ve been through a change of epic proportions but they become rather callous about the whole affair in no time.
The novella is a fine commentary on the value of a person in our modern day capitalist society. It resonates with the idea that we are all replaceable gears in this giant machine and the moment we outlive our usefulness we don’t matter anymore.
We see poverty as a disease, abundance of currency as synonymous with a rich, fulfilled life. We do everything to escape it, work harder to make more money for what exactly? We are being made to believe that is what leading a life is but I can’t accept that. That need then makes us more susceptible and willing to accept parasitic economic systems imposed on us by our governments instead of creating new ones that allow us to live in a more sustainable manner, less of this overconsumption. I’m not saying luxury is bad, I’m just saying there must be ways to be more considerate as to how we use our limited resources.