Saturday, October 23, 2004

Get A Wash Hippy!

by Skald

"Get a Wash Hippy" (or something to that effect) was the cover headline of an early FARANG magazine issue. It's a perfect expression of the mainstream's contempt for freedom and non-conformity... even,... no, especially, among that group of "latte-liberals" who fashion themselves as "progressive" or "trendy".

As Nicholson's character points out in Easy Rider, everybody is all for talking about freedom; but as soon as you actually live it- you become an object of fear, scorn, envy, and hatred. Americans, and much of the world, are like that. Freedom is great, as long as its only a theory.

We're taught, from an early age, that we live in the "Land of the Free". We go to war to "ensure freedom". But its all a lie. Americans, for the most part, are slaves. Slaves to companies. Slaves to their jobs. They obey their Masters 40, 50, 60 hours a week. They show up when they are told to show up. They do what they are told to do. They dress as they are told to dress. The eat when told they can eat and shit when told they can shit. They go home only when given permission. They are slaves to bosses. Slaves to the clock.

I've been there. I know. Everyone lies to themselves about work, to make it bearable: we are "being responsible", "providing for our families", "contribuiting to society". We tell ourselves "Everybody has to work". But deep down, we know this is horse-shit. The brain and mouth say one thing, but the heart knows the degrading awful truth.

That's why hippies, and hoboes, and writers, and artists, and "the homeless" are so despised. They aren't just talking about freedom, they are living it. Those people are a terrible shock. Goddam them for exposing our lies: apparently, "Everybody" does not have to work. Somewhere deep inside, in the subconscious, these people stir something... perhaps vague feelings of "They are doing it, why aren't I?" They question the hypocrisy on which our lives are built. Their existence,... their presence... is a nagging accusatory finger-- pointing out our slave existence.

I've noticed a similar reaction when someone learns I am a vegetarian. I mention it only when needed (when invited to dinner, for example), and NEVER argue to convince anyone to follow my choice. Yet the majority will launch into irritated defenses of their meat eating habits... or apologetic excuses for it. I don't say a thing... just the fact that I made a choice somehow stirs feelings of guilt. Most don't want to examine what's happening in their own head, so they get angry & lash out.

Therefore mellow, peace-loving hippies are subjected to angry tirades.... and contemptuous insults. Homeless people are vilified by the media and by individuals-- and blamed for a host of social ills (ills which are perpetuated by the corporations those good-citizen, latte-liberals work for). Artists and writers and freelancers are scorned as lazy, irresponsible, and strange.

Hell hath no fury like a wage-slave exposed. If only these folks would pause to examine the source of their rage & contempt. Maybe they'd stop talking about freedom, and actually give it a try.

Living In An Ambulance

originally uploaded by Hareksson.
By Stefan A. Scheytt
Stefan's Blog

Just wanted to thank you for the bit of inspiration about van living and the free wheeling lifestyle. While I'm not new to this game (having been a traveller for the better part of the last 11 years), it certainly reminded me what I'm about and I was able to glean some great ideas for van-living.

At the moment, I'm negotiating a sale of an ex-NHS ambulance I'm going to kit out and use as a permanent residence. I was on the brink of renting a house in London to live at while I'm working here (for a while) and just before I had to hand over the deposit I thought, "Fuck throwing away all this money. Fuck throwing away more money every month, for rent, for furniture, for bills.

I have a good "docking station" with a shower and parking space at the office, so I really don't need that shit. I should get a liveable vehicle."

For most of this and last year, i've lived out of a hiking back pack, staying in hostels, going travelling and hiking extensively around working odd jobs here and there. This summer I spent a month on a remote Scottish island living in a tent and cooking my food on driftwood fires.

After that, I lived in a Norwegian forest -- always with my laptop and camera. I'll send you a few nice shots for inspiration if you are interested.

Now however, I've been forced to stay in shitty hostels in London while sorting out this job and the lack of privacy and quiet is killing me.

However, any time I've had a flat of my own in recent years it made me miserable -- the expense, and being tied into one place. So, finally, it's occured to me -- instead of living out of a backpack, live out of a vehicle. It's occured to me one day I took a nap in my car. I plugged "living in a car" into google and up you popped.

I shall keep you posted with my experiences with ambulance living.
For the next few months I shall keep working, to fully kit out the amb, replace my laptop & camera (the former which got stolen at the hostel and the latter which i had to sell to keep going), and then, once spring comes next year, i'll book out of this hovel and hit the road once again.


Quick update on the ambulance situation: I won the e-bay auction last night and the baby is mine for UKP 1683.33 -- about 3 grand of your dollars. I'll take delivery of it next Monday and live in it from that point.
Initially, I'll crash on an air mattress with a 4 season sleeping bag, and focus on getting the thing through MOT (vehicle safety inspection). After that I'll add an inverter for 220V power and hook up my stereo :) I'm excited!

Friday, October 22, 2004

by Hakim Bey

JUSTICE CANNOT BE OBTAINED under any Law--action in accord with spontaneous nature, action which is just, cannot be defined by dogma. The crimes advocated in these broadsheets cannot be committed against self or other but only against the mordant crystallization of Ideas into structures of poisonous Thrones & Dominations.

That is, not crimes against nature or humanity but crimes by legal fiat. Sooner or later the uncovering & unveiling of self/nature transmogrifies a person into a brigand--like stepping into another world then returning to this one to discover you've been declared a traitor, heretic, exile. The Law waits for you to stumble on a mode of being, a soul different from the FDA-approved purple-stamped standard dead meat--& as soon as you begin to act in harmony with nature the Law garottes & strangles you--so don't play the blessed liberal middleclass martyr--accept the fact that you're a criminal & be prepared to act like one.

Paradox: to embrace Chaos is not to slide toward entropy but to emerge into an energy like stars, a pattern of instantaneous grace--a spontaneous organic order completely different from the carrion pyramids of sultans, muftis, cadis & grinning executioners.

After Chaos comes Eros--the principle of order implicit in the nothingness of the unqualified One. Love is structure, system, the only code untainted by slavery & drugged sleep. We must become crooks & con-men to protect its spiritual beauty in a bezel of clandestinity, a hidden garden of espionage.

Don't just survive while waiting for someone's revolution to clear your head, don't sign up for the armies of anorexia or bulimia--act as if you were already free, calculate the odds, step out, remember the Code Duello--Smoke Pot/Eat Chicken/Drink Tea. Every man his own vine & figtree (Circle Seven Koran, Noble Drew Ali)--carry your Moorish passport with pride, don't get caught in the crossfire, keep your back covered--but take the risk, dance before you calcify.

The natural social model for ontological anarchism is the child-gang or the bank-robbers-band. Money is a lie--this adventure must be feasible without it--booty & pillage should be spent before it turns back into dust. Today is Resurrection Day--money wasted on beauty will be alchemically transmuted into elixir. As my uncle Melvin used to say, stolen watermelon tastes sweeter. The world is already re-made according to the heart's desire- -but civilization owns all the leases & most of the guns. Our feral angels demand we trespass, for they manifest themselves only on forbidden grounds. High Way Man. The yoga of stealth, the lightning raid, the enjoyment of treasure.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


My favorite thing about ìhomelessî living was the pace of life. As a work-slave I was always in a hurry. As much as I was a slave to a wage, I was a slave to the clock. Get up at 8:00... rush to work by nine. Eat lunch at 12. Home at 5. My life was regimented and my rhythms controlled by the employer and his stopwatch. It didnít matter how I felt... what my rhythms were... that maybe I was a ìnight personî and was most energized later in the day. Nope. Same schedule for everybody. Punch in... shuffle along.

Freed from wage slavery I also freed myself of the shackles to the clock. This was a more insidious form of mental slavery.... as it persisted for some time. In the beginning, it was very hard to escape a gnawing feeling that I should be ìdoing somethingî . But Iím a natural ìdo nothing man of Taoî so in about a month I cured myself of that disease and for the first time since starting Kindergarten, lived completely according to my own whims.

I followed the sage advice of zen masters. When I was tired I rested. When energized, I walked, ran, wrote.... engaged myself in stimulating activity. When hungry, I ate. If I was depressed, I moped around and allowed myself to be sad and useless. When enthused, I ran with it. I napped in the afternoon. I danced in the middle of the night. Whatever my body or mind needed, I gave it.

This, I think, is a workable definition of freedom: the ability to live according to oneís own nature. Itís a zen/taoist notion.... not fighting yourself... but flowing. The more I sank into this lifestyle, the quicker my anxiety melted away. Without a clock and a taskmaster.... depression or illness or fatigue were nothing to be worried about. I responded to them appropriately, let them run their course. As a result, they rarely lingered. Likewise, I could indulge every restless impulse. There were times, when "employed", when I felt like a wolf in a trap... desperate enough to gnaw off a leg. I yearned to be running in the woods, or paddling a river, or throwing a frisbee,... or to just feel the sun and wind on my face. Tension and anger would mount inside me.... building to an unbearable knot of stress.

But homeless... that is, living as a voluntary unemployed nomad.... I could let that be as it was. That restless energy was no longer ìa problemî. When it built... I released it. And so my life established a kind of effortless flow that I'd almost forgotten. Ever since Kindergarten I had been subjected to forced regimentation. Finally, over 30, I was free.

That taste of freedom was so exhilarating, so addictive, so humanizing... that I have never looked back. Never again will I subject myself to full time wage slavery. I may, for the sake of eating & income, have to resort to work from time to time. But in short bursts, or as a freelancer, or part-time. Once you taste freedom... once you remember it....thereís no going back. This is something the social workers and administrators and politicians do not understand. For a sizeable section of the homeless population there is no going back either. Its not that they want to be hungry, or ragged, or dirty, or miserable. Its that they're unwilling to trade away their freedom for an apartment and a steady income. They are not willing to be slaves to fit in.

And for that, I respect them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Stealth Housing


In hidden corners of Atlanta and environs, huts for the homeless just seem to spring up. Call it . . . stealth housing.

Nick Hess, the smooth-domed leader of one of the oddest construction crews in Georgia, gathered buckets of nails, bundles of hammers and his battery-powered circular saw last Sunday and hiked under dripping skies to a small grove of hardwoods in a concrete wilderness within view of Midtown's skyscrapers.

Once at the site, Hess, 32, and a half-dozen colleagues went to work, laying a simple concrete block foundation and raising modular walls. These builders, most of them computer geeks, are not skilled with the Skilsaw, but within two hours they were putting the roof on the finished structure. A homeless man who'd been sleeping under plastic tarps was waiting to take possession.

"We do the most affordable housing in the metro area," said Jim Devlin, a 41-year-old Little Five Points resident in an Aussie hat, as he pounded nails. "We build it and give it away."

These are the Mad Housers, a band of volunteers who deal with the problem of homelessness by cutting to the chase: Every Sunday they build houses.

Very small houses.

The base model is only 6 feet wide by 8 feet long, with a ceiling that's 10 feet high at the peak. Cost to the Mad Housers: about $350. Cost to the client: zero.

For someone who's been burrowing in kudzu, sleeping in Hefty bags or hunkering under a highway bridge, 48 square feet of floor space makes a world of difference.

It's a weathertight, insulated miniature home, with roll roofing, a locking front door and a cheery wood stove piping in the corner.

One of their clients is Walt Turman, a 52-year-old auto mechanic and tree service worker, who has added a room to his hut plus space for the portable toilet. "This is the way I came up," says the former farm boy, surveying his cluttered domain a few miles away from Sunday's construction site. "I know about cooking on a wood stove 'cause my mama had to get up every morning and make breakfast on one."

Granted, what the Mad Housers do is at the margins of the law. Their huts, which they give away, are generally sited on property that they don't own. But for Mad Houser Vice President Hess, the choice between doing the right thing and doing the legal thing is a no-brainer. "We've been yelled at before and we'll probably get yelled at again."

Beth McCracken, who is studying to be a social worker at Kennesaw State University, wrote a paper on the Mad Housers for a class on grass-roots movements, and was so impressed she launched a fund-raiser to pay for a new hut. "Technically they try to fly under the radar," says McCracken, 34. "I think they're awesome. They're taking on a cause that's overwhelming -- the city can't handle it -- and they're helping out, one person at a time."

According to longtime member Frank Jeffers, 59, the original Mad Housers, who first cohered in 1987, were politically provocative. They built huts in "ostentatious places" to raise awareness of the homeless problem.

But quality control was low. The plywood was thin, the huts uninsulated, the windows too big. "They leaked heat like a sieve and they were totally unsecure," says Hess. "It was a good first pass."

Like many of their huts, that group fell apart in the mid-1990s. The Mad Housers regrouped about two years ago, focusing on shelter, not politics.

Today the Mad Housers succeed by thinking inside the box. For example, consider their unique wood stove design, created by Jeffers: It is built of four nested galvanized shop buckets, with a lid and a 2-inch-diameter vent pipe to carry smoke up through the roof. Perforations at the base control air flow. Cost: about $30. (Clients receive instruction in using the cheap stove, and its safety record is good, says volunteer Kurt Haas.)

The low-budget group, composed of activists, software writers and the formerly homeless, works the same way. The Mad Housers operate on a minimum of fuel, efficiently turning income into shelter. Their huts are exactly the length of two sheets of plywood and the width of one and a half, meaning a minimum of cuts per sheet. Classed as "emergency shelter," the huts are intended to finesse housing codes that apply to permanent dwellings.

Sometimes their overhead is so low they bump their noggins. At a recent "build" they used a plastic bottle filled with water for a level, and they were forced to flatten the hut site by digging in the dirt with pointy pieces of wood and their bare hands.

"We need a shovel," says Devlin during a Mad Houser meeting at a Midtown coffee shop. At the meeting they discuss the upcoming Sunday's construction activities and ways to capitalize on National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, which starts Sunday.

They also talk about a van. Hess, a computer programmer at, reports that insurance on a "company" van will cost $1,500, the entire Mad Houser bank account. No van, man.

Their profile is low and their donations are low too. Yet support comes from a wide range of folks (including an anonymous donor who communicates only through a Washington lawyer).

Middle school students from Atlanta and Boy Scouts from Lilburn have helped on Mad Houser projects, with funds donated by the Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance. A Powder Springs church joined them on a build, and this summer the Furniture Bank of Metro Atlanta donated warehouse space so they could do some of their carpentry inside.

But they've yet to be embraced by the mainstream. Folks in Habitat for Humanity (where starter houses cost $46,000) prefer not to comment on the guerrilla builders. Hess doesn't even want to approach the "big box" retailers such as Home Depot for free plywood. He figures few corporations want to claim charitable deductions to habitual trespassers.

In the meantime, the slumping economy and promises of a cold winter keep business brisk. All two dozen of their huts are full, and there's a waiting list six deep, with requests for huts in places far from downtown Atlanta. (There are potential clients camping in woods around Marietta.)

Some supporters are troubled by the group's underground tactics, but sympathetic to their goals. Phil Greeves of Lilburn says he'd prefer it if the Mad Housers got permission instead of hiding their huts, but he acknowledges that in most cases they'd be denied.

Adam, Greeves' son, built a hut two years ago to fulfill the community service requirement for his Eagle Scout badge. The project changed their opinions about the homeless. "These were not unproductive people," says the father. "They were working Monday to Friday, and on the weekends they'd come out and help with the house."

On the ethics of madhousing, Bill Bolling, founder of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, comments, "I would say you ask forgiveness instead of permission in this case. This is a small legal question vs. a big social issue."

Mad Houser Peter Richards, a teacher at Paideia School, sums up the question this way: "In America," he says, "you have two choices if you're homeless: charity or trespass."

The city hasn't prosecuted any Mad Housers in recent memory, says Sandra Walker, spokeswoman for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, though the city has asked that some structures be removed. "It's an unfortunate situation," says Walker. "It's what [the Mad Housers] feel they have to do, but certainly we have to respect the right of the property owners, and follow the laws."

The Mad Housers will always remove huts if asked by the property owner, says Haas. The group tracks ownership by checking plats, and on at least one occasion disassembled a village when the property changed hands. It will also take down a hut if a resident causes a problem for the neighborhood.

Haas says he doesn't know whether the huts pose a liability risk for landowners, but adds, "In general the sites where there is a clear property owner, the property owner is tacitly aware they [the huts] are there."

Many "hutters" stay a short while, saving enough money to get an apartment or subsidized housing, at which point they turn their huts over to the next in line. Others stay longer. "This reminds me of Boy Scouts," says Joe, a Ghanaian expatriate who has been in his rustic shelter for five years.

If constructing stealth housing is a trend, it's a quiet one. Jim Reid, a perennial candidate for public office in San Francisco, has designed a 10-by-10 house to be mass-produced for that city's homeless, but none is currently in use, perhaps because of the $12,000 price tag.

A similar movement rose and fell in Chicago, and a group in Canada called the Peterborough Collective is trying to raise interest in similar shelters. "It can snowball, even if it's not a big ball," says Richard Van Slyke, an independent videographer who has been taping a documentary about the Mad Housers for four months.

One thing that Van Slyke and others notice about the group is that it is motivated by a desire to do the right thing, even though few of the Housers seem to connect that desire with a religious affiliation.

Salma Abdulrahman, a telecommunications software programmer, says her urge to volunteer with the group doesn't grow out of her Muslim faith as much as from her basic character.

"We're all human beings, we're all people, when you come down to it," says the 24-year-old. "I'd be doing this if I were any religion. It's just part of my personality."

On a drizzly, mackerel-clouded Sunday at another hut site, Abdulrahman is demonstrating her philosophy by hauling wheelbarrows full of firewood from hut to hut, while Jeffers wields a chain saw.

This small village of huts is located on the bones of a ruined amusement park called Funtown. Turman once visited Funtown as a child, when school buses brought a pack of teenagers up from his Heard County high school. Now he lives next to the defunct merry-go-round, which is reduced to a weed-cracked concrete pad.

Here residents carry their water and heat with wood. They grow vegetables and make their own charcoal under Joe's guidance. Turman powers his portable TV with a 12-volt car battery.

"We're just trying to get society back into some kind of balance," says Jeffers, pausing for some cowboy coffee perking on a galvanized drum fire. "Some people have got so much more and other people don't have any heat."

What they provide, says Hess, is hope and dignity, along with a dry place to sleep. "Once you give people a certain amount of hope," he says, "civilization begins there."

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Wanderers

By Rodney Graham

Winnipeg, MB ñ Who has not felt the urge to cast off responsibility and strike out for parts unknown? Without exception, everyone has sat at their office desk fuming over something the boss has done, or not done -- or something in your life you canít do much about anyway. There is a breed of people who have done it --- they said ëÖtake this job and shove it -- I aintí workiní here no more!í It is a lifestyle many of them have embraced as routine and are actually quite comfortableÖ well, most of the time anywayÖ

They used to call them hoboes. They still do in the United States ñ or tramps, but in Canada we call them train-hoppers mostly. Some may ask, ëwhat good are they? They donít contribute to society, theyíre just dirty bums!í Well, I beg to differÖtheirs is a priceless gift to us ñ a rich legacy; a national treasure even, and in the future ñ an historic picture of songs, adventures, tall tales, and balladsÖIt is actually us who owe them a lot. Personally, I have gained intangible treasure from them ñ the good influence theyíve been on me ñ Courage in hardships; loyalty to friends; resourcefulness; bravery; honesty; individuality; humility; optimism; tolerance; generosity Ö

Over the years I have met hundreds of youngsters and telling their story is often quite depressing, both for them, and for me too. But those are the youngsters barely in their teens and most are runaways. Studies have concurred that most are there because of extreme abuse of one sort or other at home. But this article is about those who are now still not so old ñ but sort of ëold handsí at being on the road with empty pockets. The kids I talked to in Winnipeg were mostly in their mid-to late twenties with thousands of miles of train hopping under their belts. Sadly, some of them, of course had tales of a bad childhood that traced its way to the road. But whatever their pasts ñ They were a great bunch: humorous, witty, and, maybe a bit filthy -- but charming nonetheless.

They are not really bums
Like the charming hobo of old, some of the new train hoppers carry their tools with them. But for these young tramps in Canada, their tool of choice is not a hoe like the hoboes carried -- but a squeegee. What I have noticed over the years is how incredibly similar they are to the hobo of tradition.

Although there are differing opinions about how many hoboes there currently are ñ they definitely have kept in touch. In fact, each year there is a convention in Britt Iowa where a ìkingî and ìqueenî of the hoboes is named. The hundredth anniversary of the gathering will be in 2006.

Sarah George, a filmmaker from England, who made a documentary called ìHobo Junglesî, said she had heard estimates of 10,000 to 100,000 regular freight hoppers in North America. But Gerri Hall, president of Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety group, says it is closer to 20,000 who ride the rails occasionally and maybe 2,000 hardcore riders. The largest group, according to Hall are true tramps (Mostly men from 30 to 50 years old). Followed by ìpunksî. Youths according to Hall who are rebelling against society. I would add to that, however, some of these are probably youths who are running from abuse at home tooÖthen there are ìrecreational hoppersî, middle class people doing it for a thrill.

Thereís an old favourite hobo tune called The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Harry "Haywire Mac" McClintock, circa 1920, that goes like this:
On a summer day in the month of May a burly hobo came hiking
Down a shady lane through the sugar cane, he was looking for his liking.
As he roamed along he sang a song of the land of milk and honey
Where a man can stay for many a day, and he won't need any money

Oh the buzzin' of the bees in the cigarette trees near the soda water fountain,
At the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings on the Big Rock Candy Mountains

There's a lake of gin we can both jump in, and the handouts grow on bushes
In the new-mown hay we can sleep all day, and the bars all have free lunches
Where the mail train stops and there ain't no cops, and the folks are tender-hearted

The hobo of history
In the mid-19th century, civil war veterans who were in need of work after the civil war had destroyed much of Americaís economy hopped freight trains. They were probably the first train hoppers. They travelled from farm to farm to work for whatever was offered. They often carried hoes with them. They called them ëhoe-boysí. Many historians agree that the term ëhoboí derived from the phrase ëhoe boyí. When you see cartoons of hoboes with a stick on their shoulder and a knapsack they were actually carrying a hoe with a knapsack tied on the end of it Young men worked in gardens for a few days room and board -- The work they did was arguably not very necessary work, but an agreement whereby the hobo was given a full belly and maybe a pillow for a night. They would also do odd jobs like washing floors in a hotel, for example for nights stay and hot bath.

Black Tuesday, October29, 1929, was the start of the Great Depression. This was the golden age of the hobo. During the depression it is believed that nearly one and a half million hoboes from many walks of life road the rails. They had a culture and code all their own. They werenít bums; bums begged and hoboes did work often for just a meal. According to Jeff Davis, King of the Hoboes, 1913: ëA hobo is a man who will work when he can get it, at a decent wage, but insists upon the right to beat his way from town to town to better his condition-- Men of characterí.
The now famous Canadian ì Trekkersî hopped west from Vancouver BC towards Ottawa in the depression to demand more decent conditions for the poor. They were stopped and beaten by the Regina Saskatchewan while on their way to Ottawa.

Train hopping squeegee punks
The use of the word ìpunksî is not derogatory; by the way, the ìpunk movementî is seen as something quite noble. I ran into Dustin and Mackie at Polo Park in Winnipeg. They had been trying to pan in front of the mall, without much success. Because of their extremely dirty fingernails and condition of their clothes I knew they were train hoppers.

ìWe didnít have much luck here, ì said 24-year-old Dustin, ìWeíre trying to make enough to catch out to Edmonton. 26-year-old Mackie has been travelling for 6 years, Dustin for an incredible 12years (And hopping for 8). They met first in Vancouver BC, one year ago then again in Calgary just three months ago. They then train hopped to Toronto from Alberta. When I met them they had just arrived from Toronto and were heading west again to Edmonton, Alberta. I gave them my phone number and left knowing they probably wouldnít call. Fortunately, however, I ran into them in Osborne Village later that day -- and they introduced me to more squeegee punks and train hoppers than I had ever seen together in one place.

It was raining that day so they had taken shelter under a bridge. The beer was flowing freely and there was carnival atmosphere there. It was like a family reunion, as young men and women who had not seen each other in months or years even, shared adventure stories. Woody Guthrie could be heard wailing away from someoneís ghetto blaster. Later on, as everyone got more sauced, a few of the boys began singing ëKing of the Roadí. None of them knew all the words to it though. Not much opportunity to interview there, but it was entertaining non-the-less. The reason so many had ended up in one spot is because a lot of transient youth and squeegee kids head west for the winter, where it is warmer. On my way home I looked up and saw about a dozen geese flying over Winnipeg ñheading south. I had to chuckle, Öjust like the train hoppersí I thought.

I sat on Osborne S t in Winnipeg talking to Dustin and Mackie the next day. Dustin or Mackie would every so often say, ëexcuse me,í and ask a passer-by if they could have their leftovers. People were coming out of the many restaurants with little leftover bags. Dustin and Mackie were ready for dinner, and showed me the ingenious way they obtained itÖ

Personally, I never would have noticed the bags -- but these two were a seasoned pair and they had hawk eyes. In fact Mackie and Dustin had themselves a quite a good dinner ñ mostly Chinese food. While at the same time generously offering me all kinds of info about their very interesting lives.

I showed them the pictures I had taken of the big group under the bridge the previous rainy night. ìCan I keep this one?î Dustin asked. I told him to keep them all since I made two sets of them.

ìThe rest of them will get a kick out of them when we meet up again,î he said, grinning. Then they showed me some pictures they had taken on trains. There was a picture of an old man standing on the street in one of them.

ìWho is this old man?î I asked.

ìHe is a man who had seen us sitting on the sidewalk in Melville Saskatchewan earlier this summer. It was on our way to Toronto,î Mackie answered. ìIt was funnyÖwhat he had said was,í what are you twoÖsome kind of new age hoboes?í He was interested because he had known hoboes decades ago. He invited us home and he had insisted we eat all the hot dogs we could because he owned a hot dog concession in town,î She looked downwards at the picture again. ìHeís dying,î she whispered...her eyes fixed on his picture, ì He wonít live much longer.î

ìYeah,î Dustin said, ìwe have to stop off and see him on our way through.î
ìYeah, we really should Dustin,î Mackie replied.

The words of the song, Big Rock Candy Mountains rolled in my mindÖ
One evening as the sun went down and the jungle fires were burning,
Down the track came a hobo hiking, and he said, ëBoys, I'm not turning.
I'm heading for a land that's far away beside the crystal fountains;
So come with me, we'll go and see Öthe Big Rock Candy Mountains.í

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Hobo Director

by Skald

ìWriter-Director of Earthly projects sponsored and angeled in Heavenî (Kerouac)

Hobo film making is here and now and within the reach of any would be Director. With just a few simple tools, easily stored in a van or car.... the neo-nomad can be a one-person video studio on wheels.

This will, of course, require an outlay of cash or some clever bartering.... but nothing a few months of work (goddam it)! and car-living frugality canít cure.

The basics are quite simple: A camera, a tripod, a laptop, and a firewire. Thatís all you need to shoot and edit your own films. Optional extras include: spotlight, foldable reflector, microphone(s), professional grade editing software, external hard drive,...... but the bare bones are a camera and a computer.

Camera: It will cost a bit more (say $400 for a new one).... but its well worth investing in a DV video camera. DV stands for Digital Video. There are other, cheaper formats... such as Hi-8, but they present problems when its to edit. DV is the elegantly simple choice because Digital Video can be directly imported to a laptop... no conversion, no extra equipment: super simple. While its certainly nice to get a brand new DV camera.... it is possible to find discounted or used ones. Scan pawn shops, look in classifieds, scour ebay. Many people buy cameras, use them once or twice, and never touch them again (I call this the RV phenomenon). With patience and dedication, even the stingiest HoboDirector can find a good deal.

Laptop: This will be your mobile editing studio. Again, I recommend a higher initial outlay of cash in exchange for greater ease and simplicity: buy an Apple. The beauty of Powerbook is that it is designed from the start to be a multi-media editing studio. Basic video editing software is standard with all Powerbooks. The program is called iMovie. It allows you to directly import raw footage, edit the video clips and arrange them, import and arrange soundtrack music, add voiceovers, create titles and subtitles, and even add a few effects (such as slow motion and fast motion). The program allows for one video track and two audio tracks: everything you need to make basic documentaries and films. For beginners (like myself), this is plenty-- the format makes it easy to learn the basics of editing... the software is simple and intuitive.

Recommended Laptop parameters: I recommend a G4 Powerbook (or above) with a 40GB+ Superdrive. A big hard drive is important, because video eats it up in a big way. The ìsuperdriveî is a DVD player and burner.... so once you finish yr film you can burn it to DVD. I also recommend added memory-- 768 DDR SDRAM or above: this will make the editing process faster (and thus less frustrating). Or you could make due with the standard memory package: give it a try... you can always upgrade at a later time.

Firewire Cable: This is a necessary accessory. A firewire cable connects yr camera to yr computer to import video footage.

Tripod: Tripods can be found second hand very cheap. Get One And Use It. Avoid the home-video disease of ìshakey camî.

And thatís it for equipment.... everything you need to make movies: Compact, simple, easily stored in a car/van....easily carried in a backpack. If yr living in yr car and space is at a premium.... a comfortable and inviting editing suite is available at the nearest coffee shop. Stuff camera, firewire, and laptop into a backpack- haul it to the cafe- order a drink- then set up shop. Use earphones to avoid annoying other customers. If the owners are cool- approach them about hosting an amatuer movie night once a month.... or network with other guerilla film-makers and sponser yr own film festival.

Motorcycle Hobo?

by Skald

Iíve lived in a 4 door Nissan Sentra... Iíve lived in a Toyota Van. Iím cooking up another Walden-On-Wheels experiment-- one I may try if I ever return to the US: Motorcycle living. The idea is to simplify the vehicle element of the car/van lifestyle even further... this seems especially prudent considering the rising cost of both gasoline and car repairs. Other than food, gas and repairs were my biggest expense during the year of van living.

For my part, I doubt that a motorcycle-hobo life would be sustainable (ie. enjoyable) longterm.... but it would be an excellent approach as a short term experiment-- perhaps six months. Oftentimes, the return to America is the hardest part for me. If I donít have a bunch of money saved, its a real struggle.... especially buying and repairing a vehicle. A motorcycle would be an ultra-cheap, ultra-simple, ultra light way to re-enter.

Imagined Drawbacks:
Lack of sleeping space is the number one problem with this idea. Motorcycle living would demand camping--- or couch surfing. Another limitation is storage. Even with generous saddle bags, Iíd have very little space for possessions. Of course, that could be viewed as a positive-- it would force me to simplify to the barest of essentials. Bad weather would be another huge challenge... in terms of keeping clothes & things dry... and in terms of keeping myself warm and dry.

Imagined Benefits:
Ultra-cheap: Purchasing the motorcycle, maintaining it, & gasoline- all much cheaper than the van. Forced simplicity-- no space for extravagence... a good exercise in self discipline. Fun: a motorcycle is more fun to ride..... no walls or windshields.... direct connection to the elements.

Possible Strategies:
First order of business- find a secluded camping space. Probably would require living near a national forest-- in Asheville, NC for example. Once that problem solved... the rest would be easy- just follow ultra-lite hiking principles:
Use a tarp... with mosquito net if necessary.
Choose all clothes for their utility & ability to pack tight, dry quickly, and providing maximum protection. Of course, motorcycle clothing for rain, cold, and heat would be a must.
Use a quilt or 3/4 sleeping bag instead of full sleeping bag.
Use a super-small backpacking stove and cooking gear.
Buy watertight saddle ìbagsî.... also use a waterproof bag as double protection for laptop, cell phone, or other electronics.

The Long-term Strategy
Another idea: take those gas and maintainence savings and use them to rent a small room somewhere. With patient shopping-- I could get more comfort (a room with electricity, a bathroom, and heat) and more space for the same price as van living. An investment in quality biker clothing (for all seasons) would be necessary, but a bike would still be the more economical choice.

Your Strategies
Anyone out there done a stint as a motorcycle hobo? Enter yr. experiences and advice in comments.... or email them and Iíll post the best ones.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Coffee Shop of Horrors

by Skald

Winter was approaching and the money gone. No more good life as a disciplined hedonist. No more Hobopoet reverie. Hardship and destitution had arrived.

I had shelter... my Toyota Van... and a place to park it. I had clothes. I had friends.

But I needed food. I had no money for food. Yet, despite a full 10 months of unemployment, I couldn't bear the thought of getting a job. Better to starve I thought... and for a while I believed it. My first solution was to hit up friends at restaurants. Todd was working at a pizza place at the time... and would sneak me leftovers after hours. He kept me going with a steady diet of pizza, breadsticks, and salad every night.

I found another solution for the daylight hours: Coffee Shop of Horrors. This was a cafe on the square in Gainesville.... run by an eclectic group of goth-freaks: a strange business idea for redneck G-ville but a godsend for me. I'd been a regular since they opened-- and had helped a bit by passing out fliers. When the money ran out and hunger set in... I approached the manager and offered a deal, "You're always complaining about taking the recycling to the solid-waste center.... if you give me free coffee, I'll take it for you". She agreed and I became a caffeine junky by day.... a bloated pizza-pig by night.

Coffee didn't help the hunger pangs, but it did counter the lethargic effects of not eating-- kept me juiced enough to write and continue functioning.

A few days later, I noticed the manager was throwing away a plate of "expired" muffins... and asked if I could have them: from then on I added a steady supply of bread, muffins, cake, and cookies to my diet. It was a diabetic nightmare's... but kept me stocked with calories until that sad and fateful day when I once again succumbed to employment.

Anxiety Culture

Here's a quick plug for "Anxiety Culture"... a great website about the mental environment that makes wage-slavery possible-- and how to free yourself from it. Below are two excerpts from the site.... follow the links for many more good articles. --Skald

from Anxiety Culture

"Whatever you say a thing is, it isnít"
ñ Alfred Korzybski

English Prime, or E-prime for short, arose out of General Semantics. It looks like standard English, but with the words "is", "are", "was", "would be" (and other cognates of "is") removed. Removing the "is" (of identity) from language effectively eradicates metaphysical statements about what things "really are".

For example, the sentence: "Fred is a commie" would appear in E-Prime as something like: "I regard Fred as a commie". E-Prime expresses what we perceive and think about things, rather than what things "really are".

E-Prime makes sense when applied to science ñ eg the argument over whether an electron "really is" a wave or a particle:

Standard English:
"The electron is a particle"
"The electron is a wave"

"The electron appears as a particle to instrument A"
"The electron appears as a wave to instrument B"

The two standard English statements contradict, whereas the E-Prime statements seem complementary. E-Prime makes sense of emotional "human" issues too:

"That film is sexist" (standard English)
"That film seems sexist to me" (E-Prime)

With standard English, debates often degenerate into hysterical "Yes, it is!", "No it isnít!!" type arguments (monkey metaphysics). E-Prime seems to avoid this.
Who knows: in the future, E-Prime might even help prevent a war.

How To Avoid Responsibility
from Anxiety Culture

Preoccupation with work, obligations and duties is a potent form of negative self-hypnosis. For example, every time a compulsively house-proud person tidies up, he/she becomes more sensitive to the onset of untidiness. Eventually it becomes a necessary duty to vacuum every thirty minutes, which does nothing but annoy the neighbours.

The ërequired amountí of work is arbitrarily determined. How often does the car need washing; how much of our work is necessary? More to the point, how little could we get away with? People who talk a lot about duty and responsibility probably never know how much they depress everybody else.

The ëresponsibilityí function of an adultís brain is to receive the cornucopia of rich sensory impressions from the environment ñ colour, taste, touch, movement, sound ñ and then translate it all into problems we feel responsible for. We find burdens wherever we look because thatís what weíre educated to do. Social roles such as ëhard workerí, ëresponsible parentí, ëdevout followerí, etc, merely allow us a choice of burdens to identity with. If we detach ourselves from these burdens, itís regarded as a moral breakdown.

The irritation/anxiety reaction to a sudden problem is caused not by the problem itself, but by the thought that we must do something about it (ie that weíre responsible for it). This is a conditioned response which can be reprogrammed with a psychological gimmick. The technique is to do nothing when you notice a problem ñ or rather, suspend judgement for a few days. Problems often disappear by themselves if they get the chance (especially if they appeared by themselves). In settings tinged with urgency or guilt (eg work or family) they donít usually get the chance.
(If youíre not convinced by this, and you remain attached to solving problems, thereís always the comforting thought that as long as you focus on problems, thereíll be an endless supply of them ñ which conveniently justifies the need to solve them).

The clichÈ, ìnever put off until tomorrow..î, can be reversed for people who worry about problems. Itís always better to postpone worrying. An effective postponement device is the ëworry sheetí, which is a piece of paper for writing down your problem/worry as it occurs ñ so you can forget it now, and deal with it at some later date. Minor worries can be postponed indefinitely.
Rather than putting off lifeís pleasures until after youíve solved all your problems (ie after youíre dead), you postpone all the worrying until after youíve finished having a good time.

Often (and probably subconsciously), the unpleasant effort ërequiredí to solve a problem is just ritualised self-punishment. This results from the dubious belief that we deserve our problems (and thus require punishing). When this notion is replaced with the understanding that you deserve nothing but effortless bliss and happiness, many problems seem to vanish.

The RICH Economy

by Robert Anton Wilson

If there is one proposition which currently wins the assent of nearly everybody, it is that we need more jobs. "A cure for unemployment" is promised, or earnestly sought, by every Heavy Thinker from Jimmy Carter to the Communist Party USA, from Ronald Reagan to the head of the economics department at the local university, from the Birchers to the New Left.

I would like to challenge that idea. I don't think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.

The inevitable direction of any technology, and of any rational species such as Homo sap., is toward what Buckminster Fuller calls ephemeralization, or doing-more-with-less. For instance, a modern computer does more (handles more bits of information) with less hardware than the proto-computers of the late '40's and '50's. One worker with a modern teletype machine does more in an hour than a thousand medieval monks painstakingly copying scrolls for a century. Atomic fission does more with a cubic centimeter of matter than all the engineers of the 19th Century could do with a million tons, and fusion does even more.

Unemployment is not a disease; so it has no "cure."

This tendency toward ephemeralization or doing more-with-less is based on two principal factors, viz:

1. The increment-of-association, a term coined by engineer C.H. Douglas, a meaning simply that when we combine our efforts we can do more than the sum of what each of us could do seperately. Five people acting synergetically together can lift a small modern car, but if each of the five tries separately, the car will not budge. As society evolved from tiny bands, to larger tribes, to federations of tribes, to city-states, to nations, to multinational alliances, the increment-of-association increased exponentially. A stone-age hunting band could not build the Parthenon; a Renaissance city-state could not put Neil Armstrong on the Moon. When the increment-of-association increases, through larger social units, doing-more-with-less becomes increasingly possible.

2. Knowledge itself is inherently self-augmenting. Every discovery "suggests" further discoveries; every innovation provokes further innovations. This can be seen concretely, in the records of the U.S. Patent Office, where you will find more patents granted every year than were granted the year before, in a rising curve that seems to be headed toward infinity. If Inventor A can make a Whatsit out of 20 moving parts, Inventor B will come along and build a Whatsit out of 10 moving parts. If the technology of 1900 can get 100 ergs out of a Whatchamacallum, the technology of 1950 can get 1,000 ergs. Again, the tendency is always toward doing-more-with-less.*

Unemployment is directly caused by this technological capacity to do more-with-less. Thousands of monks were technologically unemployed by Gutenberg. Thousands of blacksmiths were technologically unemployed by Ford's Model T. Each device that does-more-with-less makes human labor that much less necessary.

Aristotle said that slavery could only be abolished when machines were built that could operate themselves. Working for wages, the modern equivalent of slavery -- very accurately called "wage slavery" by social critics -- is in the process of being abolished by just such self-programming machines. In fact, Norbert Wiener, one of the creators of cybernetics, foresaw this as early as 1947 and warned that we would have massive unemployment once the computer revolution really got moving.

It is arguable, and I for one would argue, that the only reason Wiener's prediction has not totally been realized yet -- although we do have ever-increasing unemployment -- is that big unions, the corporations, and government have all tacitly agreed to slow down the pace of cybernation, to drag their feet and run the economy with the brakes on. This is because they all, still, regard unemployment as a "disease" and cannot imagine a "cure" for the nearly total unemployment that full cybernation will create.

Suppose, for a moment, we challenge this Calvinistic mind-set. Let us regard wage-work -- as most people do, in fact, regard it -- as a curse, a drag, a nuisance, a barrier that stands between us and what we really want to do. In that case, your job is the disease, and unemployment is the cure.

"But without working for wages we'll all starve to death!?! Won't we?"

Not at all. Many farseeing social thinkers have suggested intelligent and plausible plans for adapting to a society of rising unemployment. Here are some examples.

1. The National Dividend. This was invented by engineer C. H. Douglas and has been revived with some modifications by poet Ezra Pound and designer Buckminster Fuller. The basic idea (although Douglas, Pound, and Fuller differ on the details) is that every citizen should be declared a shareholder in the nation, and should receive dividends on the Gross National Product for the year. Estimates differ as to how much this would be for each citizen, but at the current level of the GNP it is conservative to say that a share would be worth several times as much, per year, as a welfare recipient receives -- at least five times more.

Critics complain that this would be inflationary. Supporters of the National Dividend reply that it would only be inflationary if the dividends distributed were more than the GNP; and they are proposing only to issue dividends equal to the GNP.

2. The Guaranteed Annual Income. This has been urged by economist Robert Theobald and others. The government would simply establish an income level above the poverty line and guarantee that no citizen would receive less; if your wages fall below that level, or you have no wages, the government makes up the difference.

This plan would definitely cost the government less than the present welfare system, with all its bureaucratic red tape and redundancy: a point worth considering for those conservatives who are always complaining about the high cost of welfare. It would also spare the recipients the humiliation, degradation and dehumanization built into the present welfare system: a point for liberals to consider. A system that is less expensive than welfare and also less debasing to the poor, it seems to me, should not be objectionable to anybody but hardcore sadists.

3. The Negative Income Tax. This was first devised by Nobel economist Milton Friedman and is a less radical variation on the above ideas. The Negative Income Tax would establish a minimum income for every citizen; anyone whose income fell below that level would receive the amount necessary to bring them up to that standard. Friedman, who is sometimes called a conservative but prefers to title himself a libertarian, points out that this would cost "the government" (i.e. the taxpayers) less than the present welfare system, like Theobald's Guaranteed Annual Income. It would also dispense with the last tinge of humiliation associated with government "charity," since when you cashed a check from IRS nobody (not even your banker) would know if it was supplementary income due to poverty or a refund due to overpayment of last year's taxes.

4. The RICH Economy. This was devised by inventor L. Wayne Benner (co-author with Timothy Leary of Terra II) in collaboration with the present author. It's a four-stage program to retool society for the cybernetic and space-age future we are rapidly entering. RICH means Rising Income through Cybernetic Homeostasis.

Stage I is to recognize that cybernation and massive unemployment are inevitable and to encourage them. This can be done by offering a $100,000 reward to any worker who can design a machine that will replace him or her, and all others doing the same work. In other words, instead of being dragged into the cybernetic age kicking and screaming, we should charge ahead bravely, regarding the Toilless Society as the Utopian goal humanity has always sought.

Stage II is to establish either the Negative Income Tax or the Guaranteed Annual Income, so that the massive unemployment caused by Stage I will not throw hordes of people into the degradation of the present welfare system.

Stage III is to gradually, experimentally, raise the Guaranteed Annual Income to the level of the National Dividend suggested by Douglas, Bucky Fuller, and Ezra Pound, which would give every citizen the approximate living standard of the comfortable middle class. The reason for doing this gradually is to pacify those conservative economists who claim that the National Dividend is "inflationary" or would be practically wrecking the banking business by lowering the interest rate to near-zero. It is our claim that this would not happen as long as the total dividends distributed to the populace equaled the Gross National Product. but since this is a revolutionary and controversial idea, it would be prudent, we allow, to approach it in slow steps, raising the minimum income perhaps 5 per cent per year for the first ten years. And, after the massive cybernation caused by Stage I has produced a glut of consumer goods, experimentally raise it further and faster toward the level of a true National Dividend.

Stage IV is a massive investment in adult education, for two reasons. (1) People can spend only so much time fucking, smoking dope, and watching TV; after a while they get bored. This is the main psychological objection to the workless society, and the answer to it is to educate people for functions more cerebral than fucking, smoking dope, watching TV, or the idiot jobs most are currently toiling at. (2) There are vast challenges and opportunities confronting us in the next three or four decades, of which the most notable are those highlighted in Tim Leary's SMI2LE slogan -- Space Migration, Intelligence Increase, Life Extension. Humanity is about to enter an entirely new evolutionary relationship to space, time, and consciousness. We will no longer be limited to one planet, to a brief, less-than-a-century lifespan, and to the stereotyped and robotic mental processes by which most people currently govern their lives. Everybody deserves the chance, if they want it, to participate in the evolutionary leap to what Leary calls "more space, more time, and more intelligence to enjoy space and time."

What I am proposing, in brief, is that the Work Ethic (find a Master to employ you for wages, or live in squalid poverty) is obsolete. A Work Esthetic will have to arise to replace this old Stone Age syndrome of the slave, the peasant, the serf, the prole, the wage-worker -- the human labor-machine who is not fully a person but, as Marx said, " a tool, an automaton." Delivered from the role of things and robots, people will learn to become fully developed persons, in the sense of the Human Potential movement. They will not seek work out of economic necessity, but out of psychological necessity -- as an outlet for their creative potential.

("Creative potential" is not a panchreston. It refers to the inborn drive to play, to tinker, to explore, and to experiment, shown by every child before his or her mental processes are stunted by authoritarian education and operant-conditioned wage-robotry.)

As Bucky Fuller says, the first thought of people, once they are delivered from wage slavery, will be, "What was it that I was so interested in as a youth, before I was told I had to earn a living?" The answer to that question, coming from millions and then billions of persons liberated from mechanical toil, will make the Renaissance look like a high school science fair or a Greenwich Village art show.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Send Me Links

by Skald

Iím in the process of testing and updating the links for Hobopoet.... and am therefore seeking website recommendations. If you know of a good site/blog that covers one of the following topics, please put the link in ìcommentsî:

Car/Van Living
Dharma Bums
Modern Hoboes
Young Homeless Professionals
Vagrant Scholars
Wandering Poets
Voluntary Simplicity
Disciplined Hedonism
Alternate Economies (Barter, etc...)
Living, Travelling, Wandering Abroad
Pilgrimage & Sacred Travel
Homelessness (voluntary or involuntary)
Teaching (English) Abroad
Distance Learning Programs (accredited)
Shamanism/Zen/Taoism/Psychedelics (anarchic spirituality)
(Budget-Guerilla) Video Production
Do-It-Yourself Art/Music/Publishing/.....
Indy Media

I am interested in creative and/or content-rich sites..... please no navel gazing diaries with posts such as, ìToday my girlfriend was mean to meî.

Thanks for the help.

The Abolition Of Work

By Bob Black

No one should ever work.

Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.

That doesn't mean we have to stop doing things. It does mean creating a new way of life based on play; in other words, a ludic conviviality, commensality, and maybe even art. There is more to play than child's play, as worthy as that is. I call for a collective adventure in generalized joy and freely interdependent exuberance. Play isn't passive. Doubtless we all need a lot more time for sheer sloth and slack than we ever enjoy now, regardless of income or occupation, but once recovered from employment-induced exhaustion nearly all of us want to act. Oblomovism and Stakhanovism are two sides of the same debased coin.

The ludic life is totally incompatible with existing reality. So much the worse for "reality," the gravity hole that sucks the vitality from the little in life that still distinguishes it from mere survival. Curiously -- or maybe not -- all the old ideologies are conservative because they believe in work. Some of them, like Marxism and most brands of anarchism, believe in work all the more fiercely because they believe in so little else.

Liberals say we should end employment discrimination. I say we should end employment. Conservatives support right-to-work laws. Following Karl Marx's wayward son-in-law Paul Lafargue I support the right to be lazy. Leftists favor full employment. Like the surrealists -- except that I'm not kidding -- I favor full unemployment. Trotskyists agitate for permanent revolution. I agitate for permanent revelry. But if all the ideologues (as they do) advocate work -- and not only because they plan to make other people do theirs -- they are strangely reluctant to say so. They will carry on endlessly about wages, hours, working conditions, exploitation, productivity, profitability.

They'll gladly talk about anything but work itself. These experts who offer to do our thinking for us rarely share their conclusions about work, for all its saliency in the lives of all of us. Among themselves they quibble over the details. Unions and management agree that we ought to sell the time of our lives in exchange for survival, although they haggle over the price. Marxists think we should be bossed by bureaucrats. Libertarians think we should be bossed by businessmen. Feminists don't care which form bossing takes so long as the bosses are women. Clearly these ideology-mongers have serious differences over how to divvy up the spoils of power. Just as clearly, none of them have any objection to power as such and all of them want to keep us working.

You may be wondering if I'm joking or serious. I'm joking and serious. To be ludic is not to be ludicrous. Play doesn't have to be frivolous, although frivolity isn't triviality: very often we ought to take frivolity seriously. I'd like life to be a game -- but a game with high stakes. I want to play for keeps.

The alternative to work isn't just idleness. To be ludic is not to be quaaludic. As much as I treasure the pleasure of torpor, it's never more rewarding than when it punctuates other pleasures and pastimes. Nor am I promoting the managed time-disciplined safety-valve called "leisure"; far from it. Leisure is nonwork for the sake of work. Leisure is the time spent recovering from work and in the frenzied but hopeless attempt to forget about work. Many people return from vacation so beat that they look forward to returning to work so they can rest up. The main difference between work and leisure is that work at least you get paid for your alienation and enervation.

I am not playing definitional games with anybody. When I say I want to abolish work, I mean just what I say, but I want to say what I mean by defining my terms in non-idiosyncratic ways. My minimum definition of work is forced labor, that is, compulsory production. Both elements are essential. Work is production enforced by economic or political means, by the carrot or the stick. (The carrot is just the stick by other means.) But not all creation is work. Work is never done for its own sake, it's done on account of some product or output that the worker (or, more often, somebody else) gets out of it. This is what work necessarily is. To define it is to despise it. But work is usually even worse than its definition decrees. The dynamic of domination intrinsic to work tends over time toward elaboration. In advanced work-riddled societies, including all industrial societies whether capitalist of "Communist," work invariably acquires other attributes which accentuate its obnoxiousness.

Usually -- and this is even more true in "Communist" than capitalist countries, where the state is almost the only employer and everyone is an employee -- work is employment, i. e., wage-labor, which means selling yourself on the installment plan. Thus 95% of Americans who work, work for somebody (or something) else. In the USSR or Cuba or Yugoslavia or any other alternative model which might be adduced, the corresponding figure approaches 100%. Only the embattled Third World peasant bastions -- Mexico, India, Brazil, Turkey -- temporarily shelter significant concentrations of agriculturists who perpetuate the traditional arrangement of most laborers in the last several millenia, the payment of taxes (= ransom) to the state or rent to parasitic landlords in return for being otherwise left alone. Even this raw deal is beginning to look good. All industrial (and office) workers are employees and under the sort of surveillance which ensures servility.

But modern work has worse implications. People don't just work, they have "jobs." One person does one productive task all the time on an or-else basis. Even if the task has a quantum of intrinsic interest (as increasingly many jobs don't) the monotony of its obligatory exclusivity drains its ludic potential. A "job" that might engage the energies of some people, for a reasonably limited time, for the fun of it, is just a burden on those who have to do it for forty hours a week with no say in how it should be done, for the profit of owners who contribute nothing to the project, and with no opportunity for sharing tasks or spreading the work among those who actually have to do it. This is the real world of work: a world of bureaucratic blundering, of sexual harassment and discrimination, of bonehead bosses exploiting and scapegoating their subordinates who -- by any rational-technical criteria -- should be calling the shots. But capitalism in the real world subordinates the rational maximization of productivity and profit to the exigencies of organizational control.

The degradation which most workers experience on the job is the sum of assorted indignities which can be denominated as "discipline." Foucault has complexified this phenomenon but it is simple enough. Discipline consists of the totality of totalitarian controls at the workplace -- surveillance, rotework, imposed work tempos, production quotas, punching -in and -out, etc. Discipline is what the factory and the office and the store share with the prison and the school and the mental hospital. It is something historically original and horrible. It was beyond the capacities of such demonic dictators of yore as Nero and Genghis Khan and Ivan the Terrible. For all their bad intentions they just didn't have the machinery to control their subjects as thoroughly as modern despots do. Discipline is the distinctively diabolical modern mode of control, it is an innovative intrusion which must be interdicted at the earliest opportunity.

Such is "work." Play is just the opposite. Play is always voluntary. What might otherwise be play is work if it's forced. This is axiomatic. Bernie de Koven has defined play as the "suspension of consequences." This is unacceptable if it implies that play is inconsequential. The point is not that play is without consequences. This is to demean play. The point is that the consequences, if any, are gratuitous. Playing and giving are closely related, they are the behavioral and transactional facets of the same impulse, the play-instinct. They share an aristocratic disdain for results. The player gets something out of playing; that's why he plays. But the core reward is the experience of the activity itself (whatever it is). Some otherwise attentive students of play, like Johan Huizinga (Homo Ludens), define it as game-playing or following rules. I respect Huizinga's erudition but emphatically reject his constraints. There are many good games (chess, baseball, Monopoly, bridge) which are rule-governed but there is much more to play than game-playing. Conversation, sex, dancing, travel -- these practices aren't rule-governed but they are surely play if anything is. And rules can be played with at least as readily as anything else.

Work makes a mockery of freedom. The official line is that we all have rights and live in a democracy. Other unfortunates who aren't free like we are have to live in police states. These victims obey orders or-else, no matter how arbitrary. The authorities keep them under regular surveillance. State bureaucrats control even the smaller details of everyday life. The officials who push them around are answerable only to higher-ups, public or private. Either way, dissent and disobedience are punished. Informers report regularly to the authorities. All this is supposed to be a very bad thing.

And so it is, although it is nothing but a description of the modern workplace. The liberals and conservatives and libertarians who lament totalitarianism are phonies and hypocrites. There is more freedom in any moderately deStalinized dictatorship than there is in the ordinary American workplace. You find the same sort of hierarchy and discipline in an office or factory as you do in a prison or monastery. In fact, as Foucault and others have shown, prisons and factories came in at about the same time, and their operators consciously borrowed from each other's control techniques.

A worker is a part time slave. The boss says when to show up, when to leave, and what to do in the meantime. He tells you how much work to do and how fast. He is free to carry his control to humiliating extremes, regulating, if he feels like it, the clothes you wear or how often you go to the bathroom. With a few exceptions he can fire you for any reason, or no reason. He has you spied on by snitches and supervisors, he amasses a dossier on every employee. Talking back is called "insubordination," just as if a worker is a naughty child, and it not only gets you fired, it disqualifies you for unemployment compensation. Without necessarily endorsing it for them either, it is noteworthy that children at home and in school receive much the same treatment, justified in their case by their supposed immaturity. What does this say about their parents and teachers who work?

The demeaning system of domination I've described rules over half the waking hours of a majority of women and the vast majority of men for decades, for most of their lifespans. For certain purposes it's not too misleading to call our system democracy or capitalism or -- better still -- industrialism, but its real names are factory fascism and office oligarchy. Anybody who says these people are "free" is lying or stupid. You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid monotonous work, chances are you'll end up boring, stupid and monotonous. Work is a much better explanation for the creeping cretinization all around us than even such significant moronizing mechanisms as television and education. People who are regimented all their lives, handed off to work from school and bracketed by the family in the beginning and the nursing home at the end, are habituated to heirarchy and psychologically enslaved. Their aptitude for autonomy is so atrophied that their fear of freedom is among their few rationally grounded phobias. Their obedience training at work carries over into the families they start, thus reproducing the system in more ways than one, and into politics, culture and everything else. Once you drain the vitality from people at work, they'll likely submit to heirarchy and expertise in everything. They're used to it.

We are so close to the world of work that we can't see what it does to us. We have to rely on outside observers from other times or other cultures to appreciate the extremity and the pathology of our present position. There was a time in our own past when the "work ethic" would have been incomprehensible, and perhaps Weber was on to something when he tied its appearance to a religion, Calvinism, which if it emerged today instead of four centuries ago would immediately and appropriately be labeled a cult. Be that as it may, we have only to draw upon the wisdom of antiquity to put work in perspective. The ancients saw work for what it is, and their view prevailed, the Calvinist cranks notwithstanding, until overthrown by industrialism -- but not before receiving the endorsement of its prophets.

Let's pretend for a moment that work doesn't turn people into stultified submissives. Let's pretend, in defiance of any plausible psychology and the ideology of its boosters, that it has no effect on the formation of character. And let's pretend that work isn't as boring and tiring and humiliating as we all know it really is. Even then, work would still make a mockery of all humanistic and democratic aspirations, just because it usurps so much of our time. Socrates said that manual laborers make bad friends and bad citizens because they have no time to fulfill the responsibilities of friendship and citizenship. He was right. Because of work, no matter what we do we keep looking at our watches.

The only thing "free" about so-called free time is that it doesn't cost the boss anything. Free time is mostly devoted to getting ready for work, going to work, returning from work, and recovering from work. Free time is a euphemism for the peculiar way labor as a factor of production not only transports itself at its own expense to and from the workplace but assumes primary responsibility for its own maintenance and repair. Coal and steel don't do that. Lathes and typewriters don't do that. But workers do. No wonder Edward G. Robinson in one of his gangster movies exclaimed, "Work is for saps!"

Both Plato and Xenophon attribute to Socrates and obviously share with him an awareness of the destructive effects of work on the worker as a citizen and a human being. Herodotus identified contempt for work as an attribute of the classical Greeks at the zenith of their culture. To take only one Roman example, Cicero said that "whoever gives his labor for money sells himself and puts himself in the rank of slaves." His candor is now rare, but contemporary primitive societies which we are wont to look down upon have provided spokesmen who have enlightened Western anthropologists. The Kapauku of West Irian, according to Posposil, have a conception of balance in life and accordingly work only every other day, the day of rest designed "to regain the lost power and health." Our ancestors, even as late as the eighteenth century when they were far along the path to our present predicament, at least were aware of what we have forgotten, the underside of industrialization. Their religious devotion to "St. Monday" -- thus establishing a de facto five-day week 150-200 years before its legal consecration -- was the despair of the earliest factory owners. They took a long time in submitting to the tyranny of the bell, predecessor of the time clock. In fact it was necessary for a generation or two to replace adult males with women accustomed to obedience and children who could be molded to fit industrial needs. Even the exploited peasants of the ancient regime wrested substantial time back from their landlord's work. According to Lafargue, a fourth of the French peasants' calendar was devoted to Sundays and holidays, and Chayanov's figures from villages in Czarist Russia -- hardly a progressive society -- likewise show a fourth or fifth of peasants' days devoted to repose. Controlling for productivity, we are obviously far behind these backward societies. The exploited muzhiks would wonder why any of us are working at all. So should we.

To grasp the full enormity of our deterioration, however, consider the earliest condition of humanity, without government or property, when we wandered as hunter-gatherers. Hobbes surmised that life was then nasty, brutish and short. Others assume that life was a desperate unremitting struggle for subsistence, a war waged against a harsh Nature with death and disaster awaiting the unlucky or anyone who was unequal to the challenge of the struggle for existence. Actually, that was all a projection of fears for the collapse of government authority over communities unaccustomed to doing without it, like the England of Hobbes during the Civil War. Hobbes' compatriots had already encountered alternative forms of society which illustrated other ways of life -- in North America, particularly -- but already these were too remote from their experience to be understandable. (The lower orders, closer to the condition of the Indians, understood it better and often found it attractive. Throughout the seventeenth century, English settlers defected to Indian tribes or, captured in war, refused to return. But the Indians no more defected to white settlements than Germans climb the Berlin Wall from the west.) The "survival of the fittest" version -- the Thomas Huxley version -- of Darwinism was a better account of economic conditions in Victorian England than it was of natural selection, as the anarchist Kropotkin showed in his book Mutual Aid, A Factor of Evolution. (Kropotkin was a scientist -- a geographer -- who'd had ample involuntary opportunity for fieldwork whilst exiled in Siberia: he knew what he was talking about.) Like most social and political theory, the story Hobbes and his successors told was really unacknowledged autobiography.

The anthropologist Marshall Sahlins, surveying the data on contemporary hunter-gatherers, exploded the Hobbesian myth in an article entitled "The Original Affluent Society." They work a lot less than we do, and their work is hard to distinguish from what we regard as play. Sahlins concluded that "hunters and gatherers work less than we do; and rather than a continuous travail, the food quest is intermittent, leisure abundant, and there is a greater amount of sleep in the daytime per capita per year than in any other condition of society." They worked an average of four hours a day, assuming they were "working" at all. Their "labor," as it appears to us, was skilled labor which exercised their physical and intellectual capacities; unskilled labor on any large scale, as Sahlins says, is impossible except under industrialism.

Thus it satisfied Friedrich Schiller's definition of play, the only occasion on which man realizes his complete humanity by giving full "play" to both sides of his twofold nature, thinking and feeling. As he put it: "The animal works when deprivation is the mainspring of its activity, and it plays when the fullness of its strength is this mainspring, when superabundant life is its own stimulus to activity." (A modern version -- dubiously developmental -- is Abraham Maslow's counterposition of "deficiency" and "growth" motivation.) Play and freedom are, as regards production, coextensive. Even Marx, who belongs (for all his good intentions) in the productivist pantheon, observed that "the realm of freedom does not commence until the point is passed where labor under the compulsion of necessity and external utility is required." He never could quite bring himself to identify this happy circumstance as what it is, the abolition of work -- it's rather anomalous, after all, to be pro-worker and anti-work -- but we can.

The aspiration to go backwards or forwards to a life without work is evident in every serious social or cultural history of pre-industrial Europe, among them M. Dorothy George's England In Transition and Peter Burke's Popular Culture in Early Modern Europe. Also pertinent is Daniel Bell's essay, "Work and its Discontents," the first text, I believe, to refer to the "revolt against work" in so many words and, had it been understood, an important correction to the complacency ordinarily associated with the volume in which it was collected, The End of Ideology. Neither critics nor celebrants have noticed that Bell's end-of-ideology thesis signaled not the end of social unrest but the beginning of a new, uncharted phase unconstrained and uninformed by ideology. It was Seymour Lipset (in Political Man), not Bell, who announced at the same time that "the fundamental problems of the Industrial Revolution have been solved," only a few years before the post- or meta-industrial discontents of college students drove Lipset from UC Berkeley to the relative (and temporary) tranquility of Harvard.

As Bell notes, Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, for all his enthusiasm for the market and the division of labor, was more alert to (and more honest about) the seamy side of work than Ayn Rand or the Chicago economists or any of Smith's modern epigones. As Smith observed: "The understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations... has no occasion to exert his understanding... He generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become." Here, in a few blunt words, is my critique of work. Bell, writing in 1956, the Golden Age of Eisenhower imbecility and American self-satisfaction, identified the unorganized, unorganizable malaise of the 1970's and since, the one no political tendency is able to harness, the one identified in HEW's report Work in America, the one which cannot be exploited and so is ignored. That problem is the revolt against work. It does not figure in any text by any laissez-faire economist -- Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard, Richard Posner -- because, in their terms, as they used to say on Star Trek, "it does not compute."

If these objections, informed by the love of liberty, fail to persuade humanists of a utilitarian or even paternalist turn, there are others which they cannot disregard. Work is hazardous to your health, to borrow a book title. In fact, work is mass murder or genocide. Directly or indirectly, work will kill most of the people who read these words. Between 14,000 and 25,000 workers are killed annually in this country on the job. Over two million are disabled. Twenty to twenty-five million are injured every year. And these figures are based on a very conservative estimation of what constitutes a work-related injury. Thus they don't count the half million cases of occupational disease every year. I looked at one medical textbook on occupational diseases which was 1,200 pages long. Even this barely scratches the surface. The available statistics count the obvious cases like the 100,000 miners who have black lung disease, of whom 4,000 die every year, a much higher fatality rate than for AIDS, for instance, which gets so much media attention. This reflects the unvoiced assumption that AIDS afflicts perverts who could control their depravity whereas coal-mining is a sacrosanct activity beyond question. What the statistics don't show is that tens of millions of people have heir lifespans shortened by work -- which is all that homicide means, after all. Consider the doctors who work themselves to death in their 50's. Consider all the other workaholics.

Even if you aren't killed or crippled while actually working, you very well might be while going to work, coming from work, looking for work, or trying to forget about work. The vast majority of victims of the automobile are either doing one of these work-obligatory activities or else fall afoul of those who do them. To this augmented body-count must be added the victims of auto-industrial pollution and work-induced alcoholism and drug addiction. Both cancer and heart disease are modern afflictions normally traceable, directly, or indirectly, to work.

Work, then, institutionalizes homicide as a way of life. People think the Cambodians were crazy for exterminating themselves, but are we any different? The Pol Pot regime at least had a vision, however blurred, of an egalitarian society. We kill people in the six-figure range (at least) in order to sell Big Macs and Cadillacs to the survivors. Our forty or fifty thousand annual highway fatalities are victims, not martyrs. They died for nothing -- or rather, they died for work. But work is nothing to die for.

Bad news for liberals: regulatory tinkering is useless in this life-and-death context. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was designed to police the core part of the problem, workplace safety. Even before Reagan and the Supreme Court stifled it, OSHA was a farce. At previous and (by current standards) generous Carter-era funding levels, a workplace could expect a random visit from an OSHA inspector once every 46 years.

State control of the economy is no solution. Work is, if anything, more dangerous in the state-socialist countries than it is here. Thousands of Russian workers were killed or injured building the Moscow subway. Stories reverberate about covered-up Soviet nuclear disasters which make Times Beach and Three-Mile Island look like elementary-school air-raid drills. On the other hand, deregulation, currently fashionable, won't help and will probably hurt. From a health and safety standpoint, among others, work was at its worst in the days when the economy most closely approximated laissez-faire.

Historians like Eugene Genovese have argued persuasively that -- as antebellum slavery apologists insisted -- factory wage-workers in the Northern American states and in Europe were worse off than Southern plantation slaves. No rearrangement of relations among bureaucrats and businessmen seems to make much difference at the point of production. Serious enforcement of even the rather vague standards enforceable in theory by OSHA would probably bring the economy to a standstill. The enforcers apparently appreciate this, since they don't even try to crack down on most malefactors.

What I've said so far ought not to be controversial. Many workers are fed up with work. There are high and rising rates of absenteeism, turnover, employee theft and sabotage, wildcat strikes, and overall goldbricking on the job. There may be some movement toward a conscious and not just visceral rejection of work. And yet the prevalent feeling, universal among bosses and their agents and also widespread among workers themselves is that work itself is inevitable and necessary.

I disagree. It is now possible to abolish work and replace it, insofar as it serves useful purposes, with a multitude of new kinds of free activities. To abolish work requires going at it from two directions, quantitative and qualitative. On the one hand, on the quantitative side, we have to cut down massively on the amount of work being done. At present most work is useless or worse and we should simply get rid of it. On the other hand -- and I think this is the crux of the matter and the revolutionary new departure -- we have to take what useful work remains and transform it into a pleasing variety of game-like and craft-like pastimes, indistinguishable from other pleasurable pastimes, except that they happen to yield useful end-products. Surely that shouldn't make them less enticing to do. Then all the artificial barriers of power and property could come down. Creation could become recreation. And we could all stop being afraid of each other.

I don't suggest that most work is salvageable in this way. But then most work isn't worth trying to save. Only a small and diminishing fraction of work serves any useful purpose independent of the defense and reproduction of the work-system and its political and legal appendages. Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five percent of the work then being done -- presumably the figure, if accurate, is lower now -- would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Theirs was only an educated guess but the main point is quite clear: directly or indirectly, most work serves the unproductive purposes of commerce or social control. Right off the bat we can liberate tens of millions of salesmen, soldiers, managers, cops, stockbrokers, clergymen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, landlords, security guards, ad-men and everyone who works for them. There is a snowball effect since every time you idle some bigshot you liberate his flunkeys and underlings also. Thus the economy implodes.

Forty percent of the workforce are white-collar workers, most of whom have some of the most tedious and idiotic jobs ever concocted. Entire industries, insurance and banking and real estate for instance, consist of nothing but useless paper-shuffling. It is no accident that the "tertiary sector," the service sector, is growing while the "secondary sector" (industry) stagnates and the "primary sector" (agriculture) nearly disappears. Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order. Anything is better than nothing. That's why you can't go home just because you finish early. They want your time, enough of it to make you theirs, even if they have no use for most of it. Otherwise why hasn't the average work week gone down by more than a few minutes in the past fifty years?

Next we can take a meat-cleaver to production work itself. No more war production, nuclear power, junk food, feminine hygiene deodorant -- and above all, no more auto industry to speak of. An occasional Stanley Steamer or Model-T might be all right, but the auto-eroticism on which such pestholes as Detroit and Los Angeles depend on is out of the question. Already, without even trying, we've virtually solved the energy crisis, the environmental crisis and assorted other insoluble social problems.

Finally, we must do away with far and away the largest occupation, the one with the longest hours, the lowest pay and some of the most tedious tasks around. I refer to housewives doing housework and child-rearing. By abolishing wage-labor and achieving full unemployment we undermine the sexual division of labor. The nuclear family as we know it is an inevitable adaptation to the division of labor imposed by modern wage-work. Like it or not, as things have been for the last century or two it is economically rational for the man to bring home the bacon, for the woman to do the shitwork to provide him with a haven in a heartless world, and for the children to be marched off to youth concentration camps called "schools," primarily to keep them out of Mom's hair but still under control, but incidentally to acquire the habits of obedience and punctuality so necessary for workers.

If you would be rid of patriarchy, get rid of the nuclear family whose unpaid "shadow work," as Ivan Illich says, makes possible the work-system that makes it necessary. Bound up with this no-nukes strategy is the abolition of childhood and the closing of the schools. There are more full-time students than full-time workers in this country. We need children as teachers, not students. They have a lot to contribute to the ludic revolution because they're better at playing than grown-ups are. Adults and children are not identical but they will become equal through interdependence. Only play can bridge the generation gap.

I haven't as yet even mentioned the possibility of cutting way down on the little work that remains by automating and cybernizing it. All the scientists and engineers and technicians freed from bothering with war research and planned obsolescence would have a good time devising means to eliminate fatigue and tedium and danger from activities like mining. Undoubtedly they'll find other projects to amuse themselves with. Perhaps they'll set up world-wide all-inclusive multi-media communications systems or found space colonies. Perhaps. I myself am no gadget freak. I wouldn't care to live in a pushbutton paradise. I don't want robot slaves to do everything; I want to do things myself. There is, I think, a place for labor-saving technology, but a modest place. The historical and pre-historical record is not encouraging.

When productive technology went from hunting-gathering to agriculture and on to industry, work increased while skills and self-determination diminished. The further evolution of industrialism has accentuated what Harry Braverman called the degradation of work. Intelligent observers have always been aware of this. John Stuart Mill wrote that all the labor-saving inventions ever devised haven't saved a moment's labor. Karl Marx wrote that "it would be possible to write a history of the inventions, made since 1830, for the sole purpose of supplying capital with weapons against the revolts of the working class." The enthusiastic technophiles -- Saint-Simon, Comte, Lenin, B. F. Skinner -- have always been unabashed authoritarians also; which is to say, technocrats. We should be more than sceptical about the promises of the computer mystics. They work like dogs; chances are, if they have their way, so will the rest of us. But if they have any particularized contributions more readily subordinated to human purposes than the run of high tech, let's give them a hearing.

What I really want to see is work turned into play. A first step is to discard the notions of a "job" and an "occupation." Even activities that already have some ludic content lose most of it by being reduced to jobs which certain people, and only those people are forced to do to the exclusion of all else. Is it not odd that farm workers toil painfully in the fields while their air-conditioned masters go home every weekend and putter about in their gardens? Under a system of permanent revelry, we will witness the Golden Age of the dilettante which will put the Renaissance to shame. There won't be any more jobs, just things to do and people to do them.

The secret of turning work into play, as Charles Fourier demonstrated, is to arrange useful activities to take advantage of whatever it is that various people at various times in fact enjoy doing. To make it possible for some people to do the things they could enjoy it will be enough just to eradicate the irrationalities and distortions which afflict these activities when they are reduced to work. I, for instance, would enjoy doing some (not too much) teaching, but I don't want coerced students and I don't care to suck up to pathetic pedants for tenure.

Second, there are some things that people like to do from time to time, but not for too long, and certainly not all the time. You might enjoy baby-sitting for a few hours in order to share the company of kids, but not as much as their parents do. The parents meanwhile, profoundly appreciate the time to themselves that you free up for them, although they'd get fretful if parted from their progeny for too long. These differences among individuals are what make a life of free play possible. The same principle applies to many other areas of activity, especially the primal ones. Thus many people enjoy cooking when they can practice it seriously at their leisure, but not when they're just fueling up human bodies for work.

Third -- other things being equal -- some things that are unsatisfying if done by yourself or in unpleasant surroundings or at the orders of an overlord are enjoyable, at least for a while, if these circumstances are changed. This is probably true, to some extent, of all work. People deploy their otherwise wasted ingenuity to make a game of the least inviting drudge-jobs as best they can. Activities that appeal to some people don't always appeal to all others, but everyone at least potentially has a variety of interests and an interest in variety.

As the saying goes, "anything once." Fourier was the master at speculating how aberrant and perverse penchants could be put to use in post-civilized society, what he called Harmony. He thought the Emperor Nero would have turned out all right if as a child he could have indulged his taste for bloodshed by working in a slaughterhouse. Small children who notoriously relish wallowing in filth could be organized in "Little Hordes" to clean toilets and empty the garbage, with medals awarded to the outstanding. I am not arguing for these precise examples but for the underlying principle, which I think makes perfect sense as one dimension of an overall revolutionary transformation. Bear in mind that we don't have to take today's work just as we find it and match it up with the proper people, some of whom would have to be perverse indeed. If technology has a role in all this it is less to automate work out of existence than to open up new realms for re/creation. To some extent we may want to return to handicrafts, which William Morris considered a probable and desirable upshot of communist revolution.

Art would be taken back from the snobs and collectors, abolished as a specialized department catering to an elite audience, and its qualities of beauty and creation restored to integral life from which they were stolen by work. It's a sobering thought that the grecian urns we write odes about and showcase in museums were used in their own time to store olive oil. I doubt our everyday artifacts will fare as well in the future, if there is one. The point is that there's no such thing as progress in the world of work; if anything it's just the opposite. We shouldn't hesitate to pilfer the past for what it has to offer, the ancients lose nothing yet we are enriched.

The reinvention of daily life means marching off the edge of our maps. There is, it is true, more suggestive speculation than most people suspect. Besides Fourier and Morris -- and even a hint, here and there, in Marx -- there are the writings of Kropotkin, the syndicalists Pataud and Pouget, anarcho-communists old (Berkman) and new (Bookchin). The Goodman brothers' Communitas is exemplary for illustrating what forms follow from given functions (purposes), and there is something to be gleaned from the often hazy heralds of alternative/appropriate/intermediate/convivial technology, like Schumacher and especially Illich, once you disconnect their fog machines. The situationists -- as represented by Vaneigem's Revolution of Daily Life and in the Situationist International Anthology -- are so ruthlessly lucid as to be exhilarating, even if they never did quite square the endorsement of the rule of the worker's councils with the abolition of work. Better their incongruity, though than any extant version of leftism, whose devotees look to be the last champions of work, for if there were no work there would be no workers, and without workers, who would the left have to organize?

So the abolitionists would be largely on their own. No one can say what would result from unleashing the creative power stultified by work. Anything can happen. The tiresome debater's problem of freedom vs. necessity, with its theological overtones, resolves itself practically once the production of use-values is coextensive with the consumption of delightful play-activity.

Life will become a game, or rather many games, but not -- as it is now - -- a zero/sum game. An optimal sexual encounter is the paradigm of productive play, The participants potentiate each other's pleasures, nobody keeps score, and everybody wins. The more you give, the more you get. In the ludic life, the best of sex will diffuse into the better part of daily life. Generalized play leads to the libidinization of life. Sex, in turn, can become less urgent and desperate, more playful. If we play our cards right, we can all get more out of life than we put into it; but only if we play for keeps.

No one should ever work. Workers of the world... relax!