Cat makes a very good point. Other civilizations have had their Stoic periods too, and the arguments for that kind of life remain very persuasive, I think. I am thinking especially of Matthew Arnold’s “Empedocles on Etna.”
“I say: Fear not! Life still
Leaves human effort scope.
But, since life teems with ill,
Nurse no extravagant hope;
Because thou must not dream, thou needs’t not then despair.”
Are you joking Geoff?
I think this comic’s subject is not easily translated to choices other civilizations were able to conceive of, let alone face in real time. So… what is this comic about?
Larger ambitions come from those who seek wealth and have nothing to do with the land or the individuals caught up therein. There is no meaning behind working for someone so we can go home and be distracted by entertainment, so why not spend that same effort and time relating to the land and taking care of yourself and those you love?
Once the people roared & raged, they tried to change the world & made time for their causes, and putting themselves in a position where they wouldn’t have to rely on menial tasks. Now everyone can be heard & everyone has washing machines. Menial tasks are now often a luxury so people indulge in them instead.
I’m not sure if it’s good or bad myself; when I’ve been without a washing machine it’s a pain to handwash clothes, when I do have one I’m happy to do it for my nice clothes because I don’t have to all the time.
Narrwahl, there are different kinds of ambition than wealth ambition. There’s, for example, the ambition of making an artistic or intellectual work that will last generations.
Only developed countries have washing machines. The irony of hipsterdom is things that they consider trendy, knitting, buying organic, being green, are things that people living in poverty do on a constant basis. They have to wash their clothes by hand, they grow their own vegetables when they can (they can’t afford pesticides or fancy things like that) and they reuse everything because they have to. They have no conveniences, whereas everything we have is a convenience. We pay to have people haul away our waste, while people in underdeveloped countries reuse it in every way they can.
Girl appears to be surrounded by St. Elmo’s Fire in the last four panels.
Wild: just last night I was wishing for the existence of a “laundry hobbyists” community — with newsgroups, forums, facebook pages, etc.
is she making sweaters for the garden vegetables?
Whoa, and check this out: http://psychotichobbyist.blogspot.com/2010/02/homemade-laundry-powder.html
While it might be ironic for some people, I do think that for others the notion that these craft hobbies are integral parts of life for large, less-developed parts of the world is part of the appeal.
I suppose so, but then there are a lot of things that are just part of life here too (UK) -I have rocket & basil growing in a tub as it’s expensive to buy, but cheap & easy to grow; likewise I pick blackberries for crumble & make nettle soup when it’s in season as they’re free & taste good. It’s nice that at the moment it’s mildly fashionable, but I do it as it’s necessary if I want to have nice food, not for any ethical or idealistic reason.
I’m with Cat. Followong ambition is an almost certain guarantee of failure and disappointment. Growing a garden or knitting a sweater are very likely to be fun and satisfying. Choosing the former because there are exciting books about people who did the same is illogical. The end of the story is always the same no matter what you do. Why not make the middle of the story happy?
“Smith’s Organic, Small-Batch Laundry” would make a fantastic t-shirt.
I knit because I like to knit. Ambition (in the get ahead, earn more money, work longer hours way) gets in the way of me having time to knit. It’s that simple.
I hate to get all we are the boomers but is this just yuppie exclusivity plus back-to-the-land hippie?
I really love Cat’s “I’m am waiting” and the transition to darkness. Beautiful!
Well, the “back to the land” movement isn’t far from where I’m at, but there’s the important (I hope) difference of motivation– I don’t want to return to some imagined yesteryear where evverything was peaceful and wonderful; I just want to spend as much of my time as possible doing as I please and depend as little as possible on people I don’t like.
However, while I’m quantifiably not a yuppie (Most of my work is miles from the city, and it’s definitely not white-collar,) but maybe there is something to that article which applies to me. Much of my experience of life has been about going against the percieved majority for no clear reason other than, “that’s what most folks think, so it must be wrong.” I can’t say it’s served me particularly well in a goals-met sort of way, but I’ve met lots of interesting characters along the way.
I, too, would like a T-shirt emblazoned with “ORGANIC SMALL-BATCH LAUNDRY.” Who’s with me?
Is it me or has Girl decided to wear some sort of space helmet? It’s a guy, wearing an awesome space helmet. Space helmet.
Doing things with your hands feels good. Building, mending, lifting. Being. We were made to do these things. We were not made to slouch infront of screens for our entire adult life. But we do. Vicariously living in some condensed fantasy world, ignoring the fact that our spines are fusing in one buckled lump, our gametes are turning sterile and our will and ambition melting into the cheat plastic turd that we’ve fashioned of Earth.
Maybe people like doing things with their hands that isn’t typing and staring at a screen.
Everything about now is terrible. But there’s a solution! There’s nothing quite like not doing what you’re doing.
But don’t worry, we will learn to despair about what we will be doing soon, too.
Maybe some day, we’ll grow sick of growing sick. But don’t count on it.
I don’t know if hand washing laundry will ever be as popular as re-wearing dirty laundry.
matthew arnold <3
in a nutshell, i like living my life without fucking over underprivileged people or tearing apart mountains. plus it does kind of feel good to make things with my own hands, thats why i made my own toothpaste today. its also a lot cheaper
Cynthia said: “The irony of hipsterdom is things that they consider trendy, knitting, buying organic, being green, are things that people living in poverty do on a constant basis.”
I know how that feels. We were pretty poor, for Americans anyway, so homemade clothes, canning, and home farming were pretty normal things in my childhood. Yogurt containers became lunch containers, and after that, herb pots. When the fruit goes bad, you cut off the worst parts and use the rest for muffins. It didn’t exactly make me the coolest kid in school, but we got by. Then the urbanites get a hold of it, giggle about how quaint handmade goods are, label it “simple living” , and act as if they invented it. Marketing departments everywhere, realizing how superficial this new frugality is, mutates the message to read, “Simplify your life by buying stuff.”
@Aaron A: Then the sinister force behind consumption isn’t really conglomerates, it’s the individuals that influence them with their spending habits.
The human yearning for “simplicity” vs luxury is well documented. Candide, The Prince and the Pauper, Hannah Montana’s Double Life; the list goes on. After years of verbal abuse, I’ve often wondered if my life would’ve been better with the support of pity lent to people with bruises or self-inflicted cuts. Certain things are more physical, more manageable given the opportunity, but often we are inadequate in dealing with our own situations. The inability to solve our own problems is comfortable in a way, and accomplishing tasks that the less-fortunate often must gives “simple” satisfaction.
“… if you wanted to walk around with your head in the air, then you needed to have both feet on the ground. Scrubbing floors, cutting wood, washing clothes, making cheese – these things grounded you, taught you what was real. You could set a small part of your mind to them, giving your thoughts time to line up and settle down.” ~Book 34th.
Rodrigo said: “Then the sinister force behind consumption isn’t really conglomerates, it’s the individuals that influence them with their spending habits.”
I’m with you on that one. Complaining about conglomerates may be cathartic, but they’re just giving the people what they want. If we don’t buy it, they’ll stop producing it, whether “it” is corn flakes, wind turbines, or cadmium-laced costume jewelry.
“[A]ccomplishing tasks that the less-fortunate often must gives ‘simple’ satisfaction.”
In general, it just feels good to know that you had some impact on the real world. Volunteering is an excellent way to get that feeling; even if you’re shuffling paper, you know that you’re helping to build a house, or keep kids in school, or organize a special version of the Olympics. Whatever it is, it’s a meaningful goal to which you are contributing; that’s a feeling that you don’t get very often working in the information or service industries.
and just imagine if hitler had opened a laundromat instead!
(screw you, godwin.)
athom, I think your reaction is EXACTLY the sort that a prescient Stoic might take apart in the way Geoff described. Congratulations. ;)
All these people talkin’ about getting back to the land. Hell, my Grandfather was too poor to get off the land, his son almost got off the land, but, finding that food was preferable to starvation, found himself simultaneously in the woodworking industry and on the land. Hasn’t much improved, I now own the land and the soil’s good, the garden over produces, and the food tastes excellent. The “simple life” is a pain in the ass, but if it’s where you started, it can deliver some extra freedom. It’s pretty entertaining watching the rich kids move here to find the “time that never was” and suffer disillusionment.