Γύρω στο μεσημεράκι σήμερα, έκανα μία από αυτές τις όμορφες συνειδητοποιήσεις που κάνω πού και πού σχετικά με διάφορα πράγματα. Σκέφτηκα πως όσα λεφτά κι αν παίρνει ένας άνθρωπος μέσα από την εργασία του, ΑΝ κάνοντας την νιώθει αηδία και αυτολύπηση, ή θυμό (τέλος πάντων- εν γένει αρνητικά συναισθήματα), αυτό είναι αρκετό ώστε να την εγκαταλείψει μια και για πάντα. Από την άλλη, ο μόνος λόγος που αξίζει να δουλεύεις είναι κάνοντας κάτι που αγαπάς τόσο πολύ και σε γεμίζει τόσο πολύ που δεν φαντάζεσαι να έκανες κάτι πιο όμορφο.
Δεν είμαι χαζή, ξέρω ότι είναι εξευτελιστικά απλό αυτό που λέω, όμως εξηγήστε μου γιατί μια ολόκληρη ανθρωπότητα έχει επιτρέψει να εργαζόμαστε όλοι ως δούλοι και όχι ως δημιουργοί.
Ε, λοιπόν το απόγευμα βρήκα μέσω του brainpickings.org, μια επιστολή του αξιοθαύμαστου κυρίου Bukowski, ο οποίος ήταν αρκετά αβοήθητος (ή δειλός δεν ξέρω, πολύ σκληρό να το πεις αυτό για κάποιο) ώστε να βγάλει τον ευατό του από την εργατική δουλεία που είχε από χρόνια συνειδητοποιήσει, αλλά ταυτόχρονα και για καλή του τύχη αρκερά τυχερός ώστε να πάρει κάποιος άλλος την πρωτοβουλία χειραφέτησης εκ μέρους του. Πόσο γαμάτο είναι που πάντα έρχονται μπρόστα στα μάτια μου πληροφορίες την στιγμή που πρέπει! Χαίρομαι που άνθρωποι έχουν περάσει, και άνθρωποι ζουν ανάμεσα μας που νιώθουν το ίδιο με μένα και σκέφτονται όπως και γω πως η ανθρώπινη εργασία με την μορφή που πραγματοποιείται για το 99,9% του πληθυσμού της γης , τελείται υπό όρους δουλείας, αιώνιας μέχρι τάφου δουλείας….
Ακολουθεί λοιπόν το ευχαριστήριο γράμμα προς τον ευεργέτη του, στο οποίο εξηγεί συνοπτικά την τρέχουσα κατάσταση εργασιακής δουλείας με τον πιο αληθινό τρόπο.
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“To not have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.”
Like many celebrated authors who once had ordinary day jobs, Buk tried a variety of blue-collar occupations before becoming a full-time writer and settling into hisnotorious writing routine. In this mid-thirties, he took a position as a fill-in mailman for the U.S. Postal Service. But even though he’d later passionately argue that no day job or practical limitation can stand in the way of true creativity, he found himself stifled by working for the man. By his late forties, he was still a postal worker by day, writing a column for LA’s underground magazine Open City in his spare time and collaborating on a short-lived literary magazine with another poet.
In 1969, the year before Bukowski’s fiftieth birthday, he caught the attention of Black Sparrow Press publisher John Martin, who offered Buk a monthly stipend of $100 to quit his day job and dedicate himself fully to writing. (It was by no means a novel idea — the King of Poland had done essentially the same for the great astronomer Johannes Hevelius five centuries earlier.) Bukowski gladly complied. Less than two years later, Black Sparrow Press published his first novel, appropriately titled Post Office.
But our appreciation for those early champions often comes to light with a slow burn. Seventeen years later, in August of 1986, Bukowski sent his first patron a belated but beautiful letter of gratitude. Found in Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters 1978–1994(public library), the missive emanates Buk’s characteristic blend of playfulness and poignancy, political incorrectness and deep sensitivity, cynicism and self-conscious earnestness.
August 12, 1986
Thanks for the good letter. I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from. You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’sovertime and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.
You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”
And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.
As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?
Early on, when I was quite young and going from job to job I was foolish enough to sometimes speak to my fellow workers: “Hey, the boss can come in here at any moment and lay all of us off, just like that, don’t you realize that?”
They would just look at me. I was posing something that they didn’t want to enter their minds.
Now in industry, there are vast layoffs (steel mills dead, technical changes in other factors of the work place). They are layed off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned:
“I put in 35 years…”
“It ain’t right…”
“I don’t know what to do…”
They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn’t they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good. Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait?
I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away, I’ve found out that there are other disgusts beyond the system.
I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”
One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.
So, the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy, the jolly joy of the miracle. I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember (no matter how far I’m gone) how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die.
To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.
written for Brainpickings BY MARIA POPOVA