Wednesday 8 August 2007

Show The Working

My maths teacher always told me to show the working.
I couldn't.
I could see the answer, but not how I'd got there.
I'm older now.

It's only fair of me to say that the opinions I have on things are partly based on a lot of reading over the years. I'm not in fact that big a reader, it's just I don't really read novels. I prefer something that's going to tell me something I don't know.
I like to see something in a whole new light when I've finished.

But more importantly, my opionions are based on my own experiences and observations, on my own thoughts on the questions I have found myself asking.
I'm only relatively young still. I'm sure several of my opinions will alter in time.

My childhood wasn't awful, but it was stifling.
I was never an overacheiver at school. I was considered gifted but lazy, as well as a disruptive influence.
I thought school a complete waste of time, and I still think most of it was.
Ironically, it wasn't learning I hated. I'd skive school to stay at home and read Spenser and Malory as a teenager.

Going to University was the best day of my life. For me, it really was the first day of the rest of my life.
I pretty much broke with my family, only to see them at Christmas and Birthdays, and I don't really regret that decision. There have been occasions when I had to return to living with my parents for odd spells, but we don't see the world the same way.

At University, I led a sort of double life.
I lived it up. A lot.
I didn't do a lot of studying.
For three years I slept from 6 AM to 1 PM.

But I was also active in a political party for the first and second year. At one point I even had a position in it.
I was pretty good on the doorstop, wearing a Rosette. That bit I enjoyed.
The meetings bored the hell out of me.
I understood the arguments we spouted, to the degree of how to use these tools in debate.
But I never thought of the issues in human terms.

Hell, ultimately, I supported them because it was my favourite colour...

Well, three years of wasterdom left me pretty ill equiped for working eight hours a day, five days a week, even with a bit of paper saying I had a degree.

I ended up in sales, because I wanted a job that I could get paid for without working too hard, and still have money to get completely trashed on Pills on a Friday night.

This lack of a plan, did get me into a hell of a mess over the years. I drifted blindly through relationships, sold a variety of different products and experienced a lot of things, good and bad, that many people never do.

I had a pretty mispent youth, but I also suffered through it. I went through a few Hells.

I suppose I really began to become very thoughtful in my late twenties.
I found myself questioning so much of the world we live in. I couldn't help but ask, do these things HAVE to be that way?
Why are things that way?

I found myself applying my own observations to political and economic lines of thought.
I think you have to truly go through Hell, to truly question.

One thing I could say for sure, there wasn't much constructive I had acheived.
But that in itself raised a problem. Whilst this was certainly all my fault, it didn't alter the fact that my making zero contribution to society WAS a loss to society. Even if I had little talent, it was some talent of some sort, and society certainly hadn't received it.
And then I saw the deeper problem. Individualism cuts both ways. I had used my individualism to get an easy life, without really giving anything.

And let's be honest, that's what I do now, except I'm better at it.
But only because I'm better paid, have a stable life, don't take drugs every weekend, and therefore, can make it work.

I'm paid, but trust me, my social contribution remains ZERO.

The problem with Individualism, is that it leads people like me to structure their lives in a way that pleases them best. They always will.

The society we live in, basically rewards me better for contributing nothing to its overall well being, than anything socially useful.

I'd love to write for a living, but no one would pay me.
So I work as a salesman.

I lead a cushy life. Do I deserve it?
Not a jot.
I'm just benefitting from living in the right part of the world, and having found a way of making the system work for me without trying too hard.

I'd love to make a positive difference- but I'm not paid to.
I actually hate the concept of selling my labour. I often feel no better than a prostitute.
I just can't get excited by the corporate drivel one talks day in, day out.
It's Newspeak, all of it. I feel positively soiled by it.

And I loathe the crap we all pretend about the virtues our society pretends to have.
So many of the accepted values of our society, the orthodoxies of our time are some of them, completely ludicrous.

And if you publically question them, they'll shout you down. They won't let you be heard.

These are the reasons why, I FEEL crushed by Ingsoc.


Anonymous said...

Everyone has a history, good or bad, that makes them who they are. You can't regret your past, you need to look ahead. I can bitch and complain all day, but to actually get off my ass and do something is a bit much sometimes...I just want to be left to my own. Your not wrong in that!

Anonymous said...

"And I loathe the crap we all pretend about the virtues our society pretends to have.
So many of the accepted values of our society, the orthodoxies of our time are some of them, completely ludicrous.

And if you publically question them, they'll shout you down. They won't let you be heard."

Amen to that. More of us should be saying this, more often.

Without wanting to detract from my absolute agreement, I have to add that this post is actually crying out to be heard, not read: there's a great rhythm to it, I can almost hear the organ and the choir coming in behind you, not to mention the shouts of approbation from the congregation. If the sales ever pall, then you've got another career as a preacher, right there.

Anonymous said...

These are the reasons why, I FEEL crushed by Ingsoc.

So what are you going to do about it?

Anonymous said...

Since you get paid, I'll assume you ahve a job that does something. Thereby you actually do contribute somewhat to society.

The great thing about society is that it doesn't really give a rats a@@ who contributes what, as long as it gets what it needs.

Feel bad for what you've done to get where you are? Why? You feel bad because you think you took the easy road to get there, again why? Would you be a 'better' person if you had worked your whole life, killing yourself to get to the same exact point? Not really, you'd just be more tired.

What you do, not what you did, should be your focus and goal. If you don't like what you are doing, then change it. It's one thing to complain of not giving to society for whatever reason, it's childish to complain about it and STILL not do anything about it. But that is entirely in your mind and up to you.

Would my opinion of you change if your past had been different? No. Would my opinion of you change if you didn't complain about your past :) again No. My opinion of you is based on You now.

Anonymous said...

"I'd love to write for a living, but no one would pay me."

I beg to differ. Political bloggers are millionaires these days. I think you could do it in your sleep. You already are. Why not get paid for something you love? I'm all for doing what you love, the money will come.

Turn Crushed By Ingsoc! to Inspired By Insgoc!

Anonymous said...

Jenny- We all just seek a good deal. I expect to get paid after I have gicven my energy, or certainly done what I was paid to do anyway.
I don't actually regret much- to regret is to wish youer experiences were different, and different experiences, make a different you.

Ian- I think a lot of people feel this way. Certainly, I know a lot of my friends work like crazy for people they despise.
And a lot of lies that they think we buy, a lot more people see through than they realise.

I'd make a lousy priest, my Gran always tried to get me to consider it, but it didn't seem wise.

Lord N- You are right, society doesn't work out if my contribution is useful. It pays people by a different method.
That is pretty crazy, isn't it, surely?
I don't contribute to society, I contribute to the economy. I take part in the moving assets around game.
That's life. I'm being completely selfish- I want to get paid and have an easy life.
Bad for society, thoughj, that this is how it works.

Alexys- Its a lovely idea. I wish I could see some way to do that. I've ben writing a novel for years, but never seem to get the time to really focus on it.
I suspect I'll never finish.

Anonymous said...

"socially useful"

defined by whom?

Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to the frustration in this post. Just the other day I told a friend that sometimes I just feel like leaving everything and go somewhere far far away and work as a volunteer, like the red cross or something – to feel like I’m actually doing something in trying to make this a better place…

… just afraid that that someday will never come…

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. On one hand your posts go on about a great socialist paradise where there are no rich people and everyone gets what they need and yet you are living it and feel you should be doing more.

Let me assure you that when I am capped and/or limited I will be giving the very minimum I can to society. At the moment I feel there is payment for the work I put in. When that goes I won't be doing any more than the minimum.

As far as this post goes only you can make the changes necessary to increase your contribution to society but merely by not scrounging off the rest of us like a lot of people do you are already in a +ve state. It sounds to me like you have a personal mental crisis caused by you evaluating your life rather than a real problem. You will get over it and if you really want to do something then use your skills in a different job which could make a difference such as charity work. Some of it is paid. From what I know of you, albeit limited, I think you could make a difference if you wanted to.

Anonymous said...

We can all question the role we play in society, but one thing is certain if we all abandoned those roles in favour of protracted navel gazing then society would collapse, because society relies on those who do something to keep it going.

Anonymous said...

Somehow, reading this post felt like someone else was re-telling my life. We more or less went through similar experiences in life. Going to university was the best thing that ever happened to me because it was the first taste of independence that I had. I was never homesick and I knew from then on that I would never go back home. And I took on a few sales jobs initially because I didn't want to have a cap on my salary... and like you, I live a pseudo-cushy life that I feel guilty for having. I can talk non-stop about this darling, but would be better if it's over a few shots of tequila :)

Anonymous said...

As my closest friend murmurs whenever I say "If there is a will there is a way": Sean, is it possible that your will-power is suboptimal?

Sometimes he is a real pest.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on your reading preferences, however a good friend pointed out years ago that novels can help us relate to the human condition and attempt to better understand our fellow man (a far more entertaining way of getting to know man than reading non-fiction psycho-babble).

That said, I'm knee deep in Edward Abbey's The Monkey-wrench Gang right now, so I am the last person who you should talk to about said topic.

We're young, our destinies are still being worked out. Part of faith is knowing that what is in your heart and what is your passion will come to fruition. Keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

I could have written that. Except for the bit where you work in sales and signed off with your 'name'. I did the same through school and uni. I felt the same when I started studying for real. I don't speak to my family except at Christmas and funerals. And some select birthdays.

I hate my job. I am making nothing from it and I do feel like I'm selling myself some days.

Anonymous said...

Well it all sounds like it was FUN Mr Ingsoc! So why worry? What do you sell? I bet its something really silly and inconsequential..can't you take pleasure from thinking of your happy customers enjoying their silly purchases. I bet what you sell adds to the sum of human happiness in some way..

As for the rest of - well you have not wasted as much of your life as I have as I am much older and have achieved very little in personal terms...

Anonymous said...

David- Sorry, missed your comment in the early morning multitasking.

I shall carry on living for today. We can't all change the world, but we can affect the world around us by being part of it.

Ed- From a completely objective sense.
Is the species better off?
Will this aid the survival and growth of mankind?
Does this raise the general levels of human happiness?
What else matters?

Crashie- Don't get me wrong, I actually ENJOY my work. It's just not useful. If there was a way of making it useful, it would be a bonus.
I haven't the patience to be a volunteer, but three hundred years ago, the Jesuits would have ben appealing.

Bag- Not Capitalist doesn't necesarily equal socialist. The left-right spectrum is misleading.

I really don't feel that guilty about what I do. In some ways, I smile at it.
What bothers me is looking at some of the highly intelligent friends I have and wondering, because their talent is wasted too.
Clever people, their lives hammered into a corporate role.
In the case of one my closest friends, he finds his work really mentally straining- and the umpleasant world of corporate back stabbing fairly unpleasant, whereas as I just don't get involved in office politics period.

Mjw- Which is very few of us. I have no intention of abandoning my role, but a species that has achieved what we can, can manage itself a lot better.

Princess B- It's the story of much of our generation.
I've always taken the view that I work, pay taxes and pay my bills. That's what was asked of me.
What I choose to do with the rest of my time is my business.

Work hard, play hard.
And most of my friends are similar- The Julia response to Ingsoc, rather than the Winston one.
I'm happy living like that, really.

Sean- It's a comforting phrase, but not strictly speaking true. I kept willing Tony Blair to resign after being caught in suspenders with an orange in his mouth, but it never happened.

Helen- I have a liking for Sci-fi and fantasy, if I do read non-fiction.
But I also love reading medieval epic, oddly enough.

Faith and Reason can unite. I suppose my real faith is one based on observation.
People truly are amazing. The world we live in makes some of them selfish and mean, but otherwise, people really are great, Good DOES outweigh Evil, and PEOPLe will win out.

Phish- True story- last term of uni.
Me and a mate went up to the campus (a very rare event), to hand an essay in.
While he went and did something I looked into one of the computer rooms.
When He retirned, I said 'Look in there, and be worried.'
He asked why.
I said 'It's ten in the morning. We're only up, because we were up all night doing that essay on Whizz. These dudes GOT up this early of their own free will. These guys won't find being at work for nine O' clock, to work an eight hour day hard.
We are going to be like fish out of water.'

We were.

Mutley- I've sold a variety of junk.
There are products I've refused to sell, because I just don't believe in them. I sold training packages once, but my heart wasn't in it.

Let's just say I sell business to business, selling technical products...

Anonymous said...

What an honest post, Crushed. I'll tell you a secret: MOST people muck around at university, sleep till 1 pm, etc - it's part of it! If we couldn't in part regret what we did when we were young, what would we teach the next generation?! I would say you are doing a lot for society right now, in writing your blog: who knows how many lives you might change for the better or influence? You've got a job that pays you, it would seem, well and covers your needs: what's wrong with that? And you satisfy your intellectual needs through reading, blogging and other activities. And from what you tell us, you have a good balance in your social life. I would say this is a period you might well look back on and long for one day! As a former teacher, I would agree with you that school is crap and what's more, bad for your education. You skipped school to read Malory? - Top of the class, Crushed!

Anonymous said...

I was better at the show-and-tell then our Math teacher, so I got to tutor my classmates all three years... unpaid... I should sue them for childlabor! LOL

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of history that I'm proud of and some that I am ashamed of.Really ashamed of. Put it this way, elected office is never going to happen. Western societies may be taking this trait of individualism to the point where it can become more broadly dysfunctional, to both society and the individual. People certainly seem to have little time or energy for serious relationships or for national politics.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the nerds in the underground computer rooms.. they always creeped me out. Something about the unearthly hour, the silence, the hum of the fans and the computers, the blind-covered windows, the humming strip lights and the tap-tap-tap-tap-tap of the keyboard. A handful of scarcely-spaced, lone still silhouettes of perfectly combed heads. The solid stare at the buzzing monitor.


They are the wheels that turn the coils of businesses, but they never - ever - lead them ... (Bill Gates aside, but then didn't he drop out?)

PS// You sound far too organised, any deadline that didnt have you hurtling down the street and through the corridors at break neck speed is not a real deadline.

Somehow, no matter how hard you planned and tried to meet it, it always came down to heart-attack inducing carnage come deadline time.

Anonymous said...


I think I've worked out who you are!

Anonymous said...

You should do what you love and what you're really good at for a living, even if it costs you a higher salary or a "cushy" life.

My dad went back to school for a much less prestigious job years after he'd gotten the first few degrees, and now he has a job he LOVES.. that pays half what the old one did.

Sometimes it's worth it.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't a problem for me. Honest. Its not like I had to make an hour or so adjustment to my body clock. I had to reset the damn thing, which is a hell of alot easier if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Welshcakes- Blogging does provide an intellectual release for me in a sense.
In terms of where I am in my life, to be honest, it's never been as good and I can honestly say, I Personally lead a very happy life.
There's nothing I want but don't have.
The proof for me that school is a waste of time was how boring they made science.
Hated it at school.
Since then, I have come to love it.

Heart- Did you find maths teachers the worst at class control?
I used to eat my lunch in maths.
Non-stop paper fights and stealing of the answer book.

Istanbul T- I had debarred myself from elected office before graduating. My dear mother refers to my life as 'one long debauch'.
Not that this concerns me overmuch.

People can find time, but they'd rather watch big brother. I find time for the people that matter in my life. If I'm not working or with my friends, I blog. That's about all I have time for, but it suits me.

David- Our essay writing strategy was simple.
Most arts departments hasd deadlines ay 9AM, same day.
So we all had different essays due in same day.
We'd meet up round ours and chill for a bit before settling down to work at 11PM, with some good CDs and a bit of magic Essay writing powder.
Rules were, everyone had to write a side of A4 before we could have a smoke.
I was usually done by 4AM and used to go do some cleaning while the others pratted around.

However, I did miss several deadlines by forgetting about essays.
And no, happy to say, not that dude!

Ruthie- My gran always tells me what an excellent priest I'd have made. I'm not sure she quite gets the whole being virtuous thing.

Much as I secretly despise much of what I do, would I turn down a directorship, should it be in my grasp?
Unlike some people, I actually simply work for money- I like to spend lots of it on me.
But I do wish there were other reasons.

Phish- Left to my own devices, as in, over Christmas, or long weekends, I return to that cycle. I actually sleep better mornings than I do nights.