"If your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure…it’s necessary."

201207021142 "If your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure...it’s necessary."
It’s a busy time of year for The Beat. While puddling around looking for an old link, I realized that it was July 2004 when I began this blog…8 years of sorta daily blogging, with some breaks for breakfast like today. In that time the act of link blogging has become a lot more time-consuming due to the literally, literally* exponential increase in sources, and the general rise in nerd culture with a concomitant rise in the attention paid to pop culture sites. Anyway, that was a roundabout way of saying whenever anyone asks me ‘how are you’, I say ‘Busy.’ And cartoonist Tim Kreider calls us on this with a piece called The ‘Busy’ Trap, which is also notable for being accompanied by a great illustration by Brecht Vandenbroucke</strong>.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. I once knew a woman who interned at a magazine where she wasn’t allowed to take lunch hours out, lest she be urgently needed for some reason. This was an entertainment magazine whose raison d’être was obviated when “menu” buttons appeared on remotes, so it’s hard to see this pretense of indispensability as anything other than a form of institutional self-delusion. More and more people in this country no longer make or do anything tangible; if your job wasn’t performed by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book I’m not sure I believe it’s necessary. I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.


God knows we’d all like to move to the south of France and enjoy a simple life style, subsisting on rough crusts of bread and full fat milk, whilst hiking to our studios and writing with a quill pen by candlelight, turning off the DSL connection. Our contentment might last until we hacked off our ears from boredom…or forever. We’ll never know because we’ll probably never get to move to the south of France.

At any rate, if I can just survive the next two weeks, Stately Beat Manor will seem like the south of France in comparison.

In the meantime, keep those cards and letter coming.

Comments

  1. My usual nihilism aside, I say nuts to that. Proper trades are well and good, but many in the world have existed without use of them, of electricity or running water or the like. Remember that recent study saying more folks today in the world have cell phones than toilets?
    ART is the only true necessity. Without Art, none of that is worthwhile or bearable. With Art in our lives, even election cycles and comic conventions are feasible, in terms of sanity.
    So there (sticks out tongue).

  2. My usual nihilism aside, I say nuts to that. Proper trades are well and good, but many in the world have existed without use of them, of electricity or running water or the like. Remember that recent study saying more folks today in the world have cell phones than toilets?
    ART is the only true necessity. Without Art, none of that is worthwhile or bearable. With Art in our lives, even election cycles and comic conventions are feasible, in terms of sanity.
    So there (sticks out tongue).

  3. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Remember that recent study saying more folks today in the world have cell phones than toilets?

    All I got to say to that is LOL.

    A family of four all have cellphones but 1-3 bathrooms in their house. Everyone on the floor of a college dorm has cell phones but probably share 4 toliets. Etc, etc. Did no one apply the common sense test at any point while conceiving this “study?”

    But nevermind that. Please tell us who funded this cause I have some magic beans I’d like to sell them for a few grand.

  4. Johnny Memeonic says:

    Remember that recent study saying more folks today in the world have cell phones than toilets?

    All I got to say to that is LOL.

    A family of four all have cellphones but 1-3 bathrooms in their house. Everyone on the floor of a college dorm has cell phones but probably share 4 toliets. Etc, etc. Did no one apply the common sense test at any point while conceiving this “study?”

    But nevermind that. Please tell us who funded this cause I have some magic beans I’d like to sell them for a few grand.

  5. Torsten Adair says:

    Well, my “South of France” is a glacier lake in northwestern Iowa.

    Back in 2004, I escaped the Republican Convention in NYC, and spent a week on a mini-Walden experiment at the lake. The only tech I had? Beside a cable-less television, my laptop PC (with no modem). My cellphone was on roaming, and the nearest landline was next door. AM/FM radio filled the night with distracting noise.

    What did I do? I typed. I decided to update “You’re the Top” for a friend, which meant I had to visit the local library for a rhyming dictionary.

    Aside from the very dark night (one could see the Milky Way) and the resulting eeriness as I kept my own hours, it was quite relaxing.

    Our neighbors at the lake were retired. They kept busy enough, either by writing, engaging in various group activities, reading, fishing, the occasional cocktail hour…

    I think a distinction needs to be made between “busy” and “active”.

  6. Torsten Adair says:

    Well, my “South of France” is a glacier lake in northwestern Iowa.

    Back in 2004, I escaped the Republican Convention in NYC, and spent a week on a mini-Walden experiment at the lake. The only tech I had? Beside a cable-less television, my laptop PC (with no modem). My cellphone was on roaming, and the nearest landline was next door. AM/FM radio filled the night with distracting noise.

    What did I do? I typed. I decided to update “You’re the Top” for a friend, which meant I had to visit the local library for a rhyming dictionary.

    Aside from the very dark night (one could see the Milky Way) and the resulting eeriness as I kept my own hours, it was quite relaxing.

    Our neighbors at the lake were retired. They kept busy enough, either by writing, engaging in various group activities, reading, fishing, the occasional cocktail hour…

    I think a distinction needs to be made between “busy” and “active”.

  7. The initial observations the author made about how we all complain about being “so busy” really hit home. I’m guilty! I’m going to re-think how I respond and get out of that “I’m so busy” doom-loop of complaining.

  8. The initial observations the author made about how we all complain about being “so busy” really hit home. I’m guilty! I’m going to re-think how I respond and get out of that “I’m so busy” doom-loop of complaining.

  9. His specific example for a career taking itself too seriously is entertainment reporting. So he’s taking direct aim at you and those you report on (me).

    Of course the reason we value your reporting so much is that it’s timely (rush rush!!! find out if the new online rumor is true!) and thoughtful (ie you think about it way too much and perhaps jam it into conversations when away from work). SO his advice is 100% wrong for you. If you only went online for a few hours every day at the public library and spent all evening eating leisurely dinners with your American expat friends in Provence I doubt anyone would read your always late, rarely thoughtful columns.

  10. His specific example for a career taking itself too seriously is entertainment reporting. So he’s taking direct aim at you and those you report on (me).

    Of course the reason we value your reporting so much is that it’s timely (rush rush!!! find out if the new online rumor is true!) and thoughtful (ie you think about it way too much and perhaps jam it into conversations when away from work). SO his advice is 100% wrong for you. If you only went online for a few hours every day at the public library and spent all evening eating leisurely dinners with your American expat friends in Provence I doubt anyone would read your always late, rarely thoughtful columns.

  11. Chris Hero says:

    Well, I think the author of the quote was being silly. But the only important job is engineering! ^_^

    Actually, as an engineer, I think all modern day engineers suck. Back in the 60s, the engineers put a man on the moon using only protractors and slide rules. Hell, give me a job with just a protractor and a slide rule and I’d be *extremely* happy! Math is the greatest thing ever!

  12. Only July 2004? For some reason I thought it existed before that on Comicon.com.

    Either way, happy birthday and thanks for years of news and entertainment. There’s been various comic blogs and news sites that I’ve read now and again, but The Beat is the only one that has been constant for me.

    So thanks Heidi and other contributors!! I imagine I would have stopped reading years ago if it was written by a cat or a boa constrictor in a Richard Scarry book. :)

  13. Interestingly, the SoCAL climate of San Diego share the same Mediterreanenan biome of that South of France: rounded hills covered in scrub brush or chapparal… along a dramatic coastline view that enjoys a dry, semi-arid weather all year round.

    It’s just instead of the Côte d’Azur as a Summer destination for outside visitors, we here have Comic-Con!

    /wesside, yo

  14. Chris: As a fellow engineer, I’m there with you! I don’t use anywhere near as much math in my day-to-day life as I thought I would studying it in college. but I don’t know that I’d go back to protractors and slide rules…I think playing with 3D CAD modeling software is one of the most fun ways to kill a work day.

  15. Pedantically speaking, Angouleme is in the west of France, not the south. I wish it was in the south, because it would probably be easier to get to – instead of out in the middle of nowhere.

  16. Kate Willaert says:

    ^
    In complete agreement with Gene Ha above.

    Though I do agree with the idea in the article that the brain does need some downtime every now and then as well. A lot of my best brain-storming sessions come when I’m doing something really boring and repetitive that allows me to get lost in thought, like walking the treadmill.

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