Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Arbeit Macht Frei

For as much as I grumble about my job, it really has given me more than I've given it. Not that I haven't worked - I have a workaholic's loathing for laziness and the people who practice it - it's just that kind of job.

Sometimes it gives me time to read, and so I've read. Due to the numerous inevitable interruptions my job entails I've had to read in nibbles rather than gulps, which must be why the books I've read at work have made such indelible impressions upon me. I've also learned to select reading material for work that has short sections or scenes to make this even easier, which in turn has taught me that working more efficiently is a way to work harder and less simultaneously.

Sometimes it's given me the kind of vantage point that other photographers would die for, or else access to the hidden places where the workings of the modern world are kept. Places like boiler rooms for instance, or rooftops. I feel about a boiler room the way Leonardo must have felt about La Gioconda, and I feel about a rooftop the way he must have felt about the soldiers and labourers who posed for him. (Okay, that may be stretching things a bit; a gorgeous muscular Florentine is always preferable to a rooftop. But, put the two together and you'll be closer to Heaven in more ways than one.)

My job has also given me the opportunity to do my own work in the middle of the night, when the world is silent and Internet traffic virtually nil. It's given me the money to purchase the bones of a collection - books, music, DVDs - suitable to a place called the Pop Culture Institute. Whether I've needed isolation or companionship it's given me these things as well. It's given me exercise and relaxation, feedback and contemplation, time to write and material to write about.

The stresses of evil co-workers, stupid or needy members of the public, and sixteen hour days have in time all fallen away, to the point where now when I encounter any of these things they no longer bother me, since I know that even a couple of days hence the stress they're causing me in the moment will be forgotten. Even the cold shoulders caused by feline neglect have faded, now that I can afford to buy the good food.

I realise the title I gave this post is a reminder of Nazi atrocities (it appears wrought in iron over the gates of Auschwitz) and therefore some people will oppose my using it out of principle. But there were days when I felt like the heartless company I work for was determined to work me to death, and I used this slogan (powered by extra-strength gallow's humour) to cheer myself up. The queer in me enjoys the irony of reclaiming the sentiment; like the swastika is a thousand year old emblem of power destroyed by the Nazis, so possibly was the real message of these words: Work Shall Set You Free.

As indeed it shall. Some day, with much work, I'll be free of my job, free to work full time at my career. Not luck, but work. The people I've worked with - for the most part sluggish and complaisant, working to rule - will still be stuck in their same dead end jobs or else some other dead end jobs while I'll be following my dreams to wherever they take me.
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