I. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
Working on the Netherlands, I was reminded why I have always had such a visceral reaction against the gospel of Hard Work:
my grandmother--the one who didn't like me because I had no ambition-- prided herself on having some Dutch blood,
which for her came with a sense of moral superiority for belonging to a race that invented capitalism.
But the underside of this pride is the Calvinist belief that we are "born depraved"--a view of original sin stripped of any of Augustine's Mediterranean charm, at least in my grandmother's "cultural Calvinist version--
and must push ourselves always so we don't slip into a vat of filth and sin.
No wonder I go around collecting quotes championing...
You find the most surprising people on the subject.
Here, Willliam Faulkner:
"By temperament I’m a vagabond and a tramp. I don’t want money badly enough to work for it._______
"In my opinion it’s a shame that there is so much work in the world. One of the saddest things
is that the only thing a man can do for eight hours a day, day after day, is work.
"You can’t eat eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day
nor make love for eight hours—all you can do for eight hours is work.
"Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy."
I don't agree with everything he says--I can find other things to do all day long besides work-- but I do relish his puncturing the idea that work is salvific or inherently a moral good.
And here's his delightful bit of advice on the art of reading his work too.
INTERVIEWER: Some people say they can’t understand your writing, even after they read it two or three times. What approach would you suggest for them?
William FAULKNER: Read it four times.
From The Paris Review - The Art of Fiction No. 12
Via Jeff at This Public Address
And now I must get to work--
liberated by realizing I don't object to hard work,
I just object to the idea that we are damned if we don't do it.