Piece One

Morning commuteThis is the first of five posts (pieces) that will provide some background for my critical thinking project, that once complete, may change the direction and content of this blog…and then again…it may not.  These background pieces are little snippets from a few authors that wrote works or pieces within their works that struck a deep chord within me…a chord that rung true…to me.  There are of course more authors and pieces, but these few suffice, for they hit on some of the big questions…and their thoughts…are also taken from other thoughts…that came before.

cubiclesNow, we can all say that these pieces, which serve as foundations for my critical thinking, skew the process from the start.  But, this is who I am and how I view the world…for these few thoughts ring true to me…from what I have experienced, observed, and thought…from youth to the present.  These thoughts run deep within me and throughout me…like the blood in my veins…and cannot be extracted…without ripping out a piece of who I am.

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“Whereupon it occurred to me – so it is with every one.  Just as I dress and go out to visit the professor and exchange a few more or less insincere compliments with him, without really wanting to at all, so it is with the majority of men day by day and hour by hour in their daily lives and affairs.  Without really wanting to at all, they pay calls and carry on conversations, sit out their hours at desks and on office chairs; and it is all compulsory, mechanical and against the grain, and it could all be done or left undone just as well by machines; and indeed it is this never-ceasing machinery that prevents their being, like me, the critics of their own lives and recognizing the stupidity and shallowness, the hopeless tragedy and waste of the lives they lead, and the awful ambiguity grinning over it all.  And they are right, right a thousand times to live as they do, playing their games and pursuing business, instead of resisting the dreary machine and staring into the void as I do, who have left the track.  Let no one think that I blame other men, though now and then in these pages I scorn and even deride them, or that I accuse them of the responsibility of my personal misery.  But now that I have come so far, standing as I do on the extreme verge of life where the ground falls away before me into bottomless darkness, I should do wrong and I should lie if I pretend to myself or to others that the machine still revolved for me and that I was still obedient to the eternal child’s play of that charming world.”

Hermann HesseSteppenwolf

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2 thoughts on “Piece One

  1. I knew that your new series would ask my attention and thought, so I have waited until I have the time to read them and absorb them fully – beginning tonight. The Hesse piece is profound and introduces your series perfectly. Now released from the daily grind game I can look back somewhat objectively. Until marriage and children I chose time over money and so my work life was often intermittent, seasonal and resulting in jobs that were unconventional but fascinating in their oddness. When circumstances necessitated building a career I worked toward an area in which I could combine my creative passions with earning a living and was lucky enough to enter art teaching which became a meaningful and fulfilling life for more than two decades. But that’s not what Hesse is addressing because it was not “mechanical and against the grain” and could not be done by machines. I say I was ‘lucky’ because I’m all too aware that the soulless state of employment Hesse writes about is all too common – see photos of Chinese workers by Andreas Gursky…

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