Some ways to whittle the world down

Maslow, found in de Botton’s The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work*:

It isn’t normal to know what we want. 


Last week I built a yurt, start to finish– one of those novelty-type things that actually realized into wood slats and labor. All this talk of not being able to hammer a nail over the internet or something and it was a kind of joke turned oddly pertinent: four days in the middle of nowhere with duck eggs for breakfast and things that grew from the ground ten feet away and power tools and failed-math-cum-trial-and-error, all the while serving a numero uno purpose of total distraction from unemployment round two (twice as bad). All a special kind of first-world respite from alienation, self-pity, and job postings that emphasize the word “twitter” and act like bright neon callings for exodus. I don’t want any of this.

No hesitation, though, (or guilt, etc.) to say that it was nice to feel deserving of things like dinner or sleep. I built a thing.  

*Some (seconded) dislike of Pleasures: I am angry with the voice of most of this book– occasionally mean and quick to deem things surprising or apt (this town “surprisingly devoid of charm,” a (hey!) surprisingly apt summary of the book), all of it existing in a place too far removed to make any effective stabs at saying anything new or real about removedness. But, at least: my library uses old library catalogue cards for the scraps you can write out call numbers on, the one I inadvertently grab to write down the number for Pleasures tagged with the category “self-actualization,” in all caps: SELF-ACTUALIZATION, Maslow’s final step in the hierarchy of needs, “the desire to become more and more what one is, to become everything one is capable of becoming.” In a steady stage of not-becoming I at least have a yurt, and a satisfied basic need in case I face eviction.


  1. Posted August 9, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Your eccentric words have floored me. You write beautifully.

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