Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sherwood Anderson's Dream

Recently my mom ran into a chum from my early childhood, who had subsequently spent his life working for an oil company in California, and was now retiring to a home he'd just purchased in Puget Sound.

Yes, that's right, having spent a lifetime helping oil fuel the suburbs that have ruined Puget Sound, he's now retiring on a generous pension to a relatively unspoiled corner of the world that he did nothing to help preserve.

I, on the other hand, refused to believe in a career apart from community. Seattle was my home, and comparing Seattle in 1970 with the Seattle of today, I rest my case.

Sherwood Anderson, curiously, had something to say about this, in about 1930-

"I want men and women who, at any physical cost to themselves, will continue to refuse to work as we understand the word 'work'...[with] such physical energy loose among us, we may begin to do some of the things that now seem entirely out of our reach. We may begin to make towns, houses, books, pictures, even cities that have beauty and meaning...So you see I want a body of healthy young men and women to agree to quit working, to loaf, to refuse to be hurried or try to get on in the world- in short, to become intense individualists. Something of the sort must happen if we are ever to bring color or flair into our modern life."

*Fortunately*, modern capitalism is helping with that 'not working' thing, as steady employment continues to fall and corporations evolve to the lifespan of a fruit fly. Hopefully the future will see less people thinking, like my gradeschool chum, that a life of toil for the corporation will make his world a better place. We've had quite enough of that already.

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