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“Art + Courage = Job”

Updated on January 12, 2018

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Creativity, a blessing or a curse? All things considered...
Creativity, a blessing or a curse? All things considered... | Source


This is a response essay written thirteen years ago. Yes. I cannot believe it myself. What have I been doing with my life?

- Great Grandfather, - he said, - It applies to us! We are still

alive, and we are about to lose our lives.

- Good job too.

- What?

- What use is your life to anyone? When I think of what you’ve made

of it the phrase "pig's ear" comes irresistibly to my mind.

~ Douglas Adams “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”

The way I was trying to portray myself in that essay is not very accurate, I was adjusting, generalizing, and, maybe, simply bending the truth. I was not courageous enough to be authentic and genuine at the time. But the main idea was exactly what I thought and how I felt. I had always been nowhere with my life. I did not enjoy much creativity either. I was oblivious to the fact that it was one of my blessings and/or curses. The only thing I felt was severe depression, hopelessness and the impression of being stuck forever. What has changed?

One of the catchy phrases Hal Niedzviecki came up with and I remembered it ever since was

“Creativity + Unemployment = Art"

Last year I lived that truth enjoying my creativity trying to forget that there were practical matters to be taken care of. And now the time, either to take a leap forward into the higher level of it regardless of fear that I might feel (I do) or go back to the … let me put it this way - “simpler solutions”. I don’t know my destiny. I am not a clairvoyant. I am conflicted, depressed, tired, lacking direction, lacking encouragement, lacking health and energy…yet dreaming.

Shall I push until I get a desired result? In sales as I just learned there is a rule about gaining control “Get control or get out!” Nicely put. Shall I turn Hal’s formula into

“Art + Courage = Job”

“Creativity + Courage = Job”?

How to Survive a Stupid Job

This is the original essay.

In his article “Stupid Jobs are Good to Relax With”, Hal Niedzviecki delivers a touching eulogy for part-time jobs that can provide with just enough income for living and yet do not require a lot of effort and time on your part. Despite popular belief, stupid jobs are an unhappy lot for many young educated Canadians. Many students have to work in stupid jobs in the first place in order to be able to pay their tuition, which increases all the time. However, when new graduates finally arrive at the workforce, they find that the “real” jobs are already taken by people of older generations. Then left with little choice, these newly fledged specialists have to return to stupid jobs again. For a person, who is overeducated for a stupid job, the author recommends developing some strategy in order to avoid disappointment and even keep his/her sanity. Niedzviecki proposes a new “culture of anti-work”. Do as little as possible, slack here and there, avoid responsibility, and the reward will be freedom of mind and revitalized creativity. I agree with the author that a “culture of anti-work” is acceptable in some situations, but I think it has to be approached with great caution, and full awareness of its possible devastating consequences.

Culture of Anti-Work

I agree that a “culture of anti-work” can be a good idea for students. If they are lucky enough to find a “relaxing” job that does not require mental or physical exhaustion, yet brings enough money to pay the bills, I do not see a problem in not working very diligently for little pay. For students, this “culture of anti-work” is not very likely to become second nature, because studying is their first priority, and it is a hard job.

However, I disagree with Niedzviecki that the strategy of “having no attitude” is a good idea when new graduates just land in the marshland of stupid jobs. My friends and I went through the nightmare of having stupid jobs, and at that time I learned that what strategy you choose at the very beginning is crucial. Before accepting this “culture of anti-work” - which signals admission of defeat - I would recommend that you try all possible ways to get out of this deplorable situation. It is important because first of all stupid jobs are very degrading.

When I think back on my numerous stupid jobs I cannot remember any freedom of mind and hardly any surges of creativity but instead long-lasting depression and sheer detestation. Stupid jobs are dangerous not only because they undermine self-esteem and engender feelings of worthlessness, but also they lead to acquiring learned helplessness. Working outside the field of the acquired profession for a prolonged period of time “makes null and void” academic knowledge. I always say that I am an engineer only by education, because I graduated from the university seven years ago and never worked as an engineer. My professional knowledge has vanished thanks to stupid jobs.

The danger of relaxing in a stupid job recommended by Niedzviecki is that the process of degradation will occur at a higher speed. I felt it myself, and I resisted it in every possible way. I had the misfortune of seeing my friends giving in to “passivity” too soon. It was especially heartbreaking to see the corrupting results of this passivity, because I knew that my friends did not lack ability and that there was hope for them. After all, the advantage of higher education is that it provides enough knowledge and ability to approach a problem intelligently and find a solution. It is a pity when people cannot make best of their intelligence. If a second education is required, it is better to go for it, than to be stuck being a deliveryman with a diploma in French literature. However, I understand that it is not always possible to overcome circumstances. If nothing seems to work, no matter how hard you try, then it is better to accept the recommendations of Niedzviecki. I agree that it will keep you sane.

“Culture of anti-work” is appropriate for students and for those who tried all possible combinations to find their way out of the realm of stupid jobs but failed. It is never too late to take the path of least resistance, but it might be too late to win your way back to real jobs. Therefore before giving up, it is better to try to change the situation which led you to having a stupid job. Only if you cannot change the situation, then it might be wise to accept the philosophy of Niedzviecki and change your attitude.

On the other hand...

© 2012 kallini2010


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    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hello Flourish:

      Thank you for reading this old [fill in the blank]. Hal the Unpronounceable Last Name wrote his "Creativity + Unemployment..." eighteen years ago. I hope that situation have changed - for our modern pace of society development, twenty years sounds like a lifetime.

      I think for your daughter this summer job was a necessary experience. She's got vaccinated against thinking that "stupid" jobs are harmless (short-term or long-term) and she saw society from another angle.

      She is lucky she has you as her mother - it's not that people forget - they (we) are unaware of the Bias of all Biases - the fundamental attribution error. You can explain all these phenomenons since you studied human behaviour (I assume).

      There is a question of power, as well, in the field of customer service. A person may not think anything until he finds himself in the position of entitlement - "If I can (yell), I will". Maybe these people who create so much stress for others working stupid jobs are stressed themselves and powerless in any other setting and most likely repeat the treatment they receive from upper "ranks".

      Also a lot of anger we see - anger as fear of not getting what one wants. If you are calm and know how to get best service with what and who you have, there is no need for yelling and despicable behaviour.

      I have been on both sides of customer service - being yelled at and yelling at others. The second scenario left me feel ashamed and it's not something I want to feel again.

      To put it simply - it's not simple at all. My son says that I am the most annoying person in the world and it's where he gets it - bad genes and poor parenting.

      And the episode he loves to reenact -

      I was trying (!) to tell a bus driver ... - she did not let me finish or understand for that matter my point - and I was completely calm and polite - instead she was yelling and yelling and yelling at me. I stood there and just listened waiting till she stops and I can tell her finally...

      So, of course, at one point she realized that she is the only person yelling and she said that my voice was too soft. And hers was not and that is why she is yelling and that's why she is a bus driver and I am not.

      I don't know if it made any difference in her life or whether she remembers it at all. But my son and I will remember it for life. He made sure of it. Now I always use this example for - if you want a change, service, correction, whatnot - you have to speak up, but when you do - be calm and polite. Anger will get you nowhere. Once you get angry, you lose the battle.

      P.S. When I was re-reading (proofreading) my comment before "pushing the button" -

      I got to the word "experience". In every negative, bad events, I tell my son that negative experiences are more memorable and years later he'll re-evaluate them differently, and most likely they will turn into a reliable source of entertainment. But when it is fresh, we will call it "experience".

      Recently, I was complaining about this and that... he looked at me and said quite succinctly, "Well, it was an experience". My mood changed immediately.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      8 months ago from USA

      I've seen what "stupid jobs" can do to people. People make assumptions that people occupying stupid jobs are stupid themselves undeserving of respect, and therefore, they oftentimes treat them terribly. Typically, these stupid jobs are in the service industry and it's unfortunate that people forget that those holders of stupid jobs are someone's child, mother, sibling, or friend just trying to eek out a living like everyone else. My high school aged daughter -- a very intelligent pre-engineering student who has made prosthetic arms for amputees and worked on robots --

      took a summer job at McDonalds and was surprised at the common disrespect. Having been enlightened to the daily degradation service workers face from the public, now I understand why so many of them adopt a slacker attitude out of protecting their own mental health.

    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Dear Astra Nomik, thank you for reading my article and leaving a comment.

      To me, this is a haunting article, as I said I have written it long time ago, and a lot of things have changed yet, I could never forget this.

      "Creativity + Unemployment =

      I don't know why. Only things that resonate with us have this effect. The rest we do not notice as if it is non-existent. Existent, yet invisible to us.

      The statement

      “Creativity takes courage” Henri Matisse

      to me is the fact.

      I am also a strong believer that everyone is creative by definition and talented (by definition or not is quite another matter). Everyone is intelligent and creative. Not necessarily successful (my story), yet I don't seem to be able to abandon my quest of creativity realized.

      “An artist must never be a prisoner. Prisoner? An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success, etc.”

      Henri Matisse

      And if I have to think what am I a prisoner of?

      Lack of self-confidence and ultimately courage.

      Something to work on.

      Thanks again,

      and I will be going to your quarters to read


    • Astra Nomik profile image

      Cathy Nerujen 

      6 years ago from Edge of Reality and Known Space

      This is interesting. Art is something we can all aspire towards, in varying degrees. It depends on us to a large extent. But we can all discover innate talent within us. We have to look first. Many don't try, which is sad. That's what I love about Hub Pages. You never know if you will be a successful writer till you write something and somebody responds in some way.

      I have had more people read my poetry here than in my whole life. And I'm only here two years. Yes, I love that formula for art.




      And so ...


      This is a great hub.


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