I’ve been taken away from my little house on the hill and moved to the big city (metaphorically speaking) which I’m calling now “the machine, the factory”, because this is what it actually is: the city is an artificial environment, it’s Ford’s assembly line, it’s a big factory where everything is automated and streamlined, a place where you have your running water (almost) all the time, your gas and fire most of the time, your electricity most of the time, the food is waiting you in nicely tucked in shelves, your car or the public transportation system is ready to take you to your destination, your phone lets you to communicate fast with whomever you can reach by the phone – all of these modern inventions having the role to reduce the time you spend trying to fulfill your basic necessities and sometimes even more than that. In short, all the means for you to have more time, to be more productive and to consume more are in place. Thus, you become a machine, a cog in the wheel, trying to do your part, to be efficient and to produce in order to do what is on the other side of the coin: to consume, because the act of consuming is what keeps the economy, the city and the machine growing. Producing and consuming is like Yin and Yang, one cannot exist without the other. It’s your duty to consume and to keep inflating the bubble, to keep your hopes and enthusiasm and the hopes and enthusiasm of others going. The entrepreneurs’ venture is all based on hopes and dreams and without a consuming society, without the machine, he knows that he is doomed to fail. On the other side, the consumer must be constantly coaxed, influenced, persuaded to consume until his raison d’etre, his meaning and life purpose becomes consumerism, he comes to believe that his dreams can be achieved only by the act of consuming. The entrepreneur and the consumer need one another in a mad illusory embrace that keeps on growing and growing into a bubble.
The city is the place where time was invented. Standardized time. Around 1880 or so they (the British railway companies) decided and declared that time needs to be standardized, that there are no more local times, no more cities going with their own local time, that time has to be neatly organized and cut into pieces, arranged into longitudes and “time zones”, “there you go, this is your time from now on, you will do everything according to our time”. The reason for all this standardization? For the better functioning of the machine of course, workers have to get-up up on time and to arrive at the factory on time in order to keep the production going and on time. The machine can’t wait and it doesn’t wait for anyone. Even though the machine itself has no notion of time, it’s only its servants that created it.
But I’m not a consumer at heart. I’m tired of consuming. I don’t want to consume anymore. For example, I’ve been consuming information ever since this morning, content from news sites, from social media (Twitter), from Youtube but have I grown, am I better version of myself after all this consuming? No. I’m still the same. I don’t want to consume anymore but I don’t know what to fill my time with, all this invented, standardized time created by efficiency and automation and by the machine. I don’t need to go to the fountain and fetch water, to hunt or grow my own food, to make candles so I can see in the dark, to wash my clothes, I don’t have to walk for hours to get somewhere and to communicate with someone. No more adrenaline and thrills given by the wait of the hunt and the hunt itself, no more thinking while I go and get water, no more stories and songs told and sang around the fireplace, no more time spent in nature for hours on end. We’ve been taken away from what made us and put into an artificial environment where we are fed dreams and hopes.
What to do when you refuse to be fed the dreams and hopes of a consumerist society and have a lot of time on your hands? I think, I create, I invent, I write.
And I’m not the only one who is doing creative work with his free time, as a matter of fact all of this free time at the disposal of humanity transformed over time into art, research and scientific discovery, a progress that is happening at an accelerated pace. Because of all this extra time we can now travel and discover the world, we live longer and healthier in safer environments. I do acknowledge that all this free time contributed to the first steps of man on the moon and other extraordinary things but I’m also acknowledging the fact that we are losing something in this process and becoming something else, that we are working incessantly at our new artificial environment while degrading our original and natural one. Where is all this progress taking us and in what way it will transform us? We will have to wait and see. However, until then…we must diligently perform our duties like the little cogs in the wheel that we are, we have to produce and to consume. Dance monkey, dance!