“Hesiod, the poet himself, a man of many talents blessed by the Muses, once told his brother Perses, “Work the work,” (ergazeo ta erga) and never has a truer word been spoken.
Work is the lifeblood of man, that which gives one purpose in an otherwise squalid and pointless existence.
Don’t get me wrong. I stay as far away from the stuff as is humanly possible. If Hard Work and Physical Labor approached me with a winning lottery ticket for a cool $50 mil. I would run a mile. It’s not so much that I object in principle to working, or “hard work” as it’s usually put by those who subject themselves to the experience, the actual blood and sweat of work, so much that I object to it in practice. I’m a thinker, not a doer, and people like me (specimens of such estimable class and value) are few and far between. Our talents and our energy must be conserved and directed toward the idea of work, the essence, the Platonic ideal of the thing, not the action. If something needs doing, I make note of it to any and all in earshot and wait for someone to do it. Perhaps it doesn’t get done. Do I worry myself about that? No. The execution, the alleged “hard work” of a thing is not my concern. The real work has been done between my ears. There is the achievement of man, in the thinking, not the doing.
In truth, I work. I work very hard; most people just don’t notice, which, if we’re being honest, is their failure, not mine. Try as I might, the work I do just does not get the recognition that it deserves, a true crime against humanity if there ever was one.
Build a school? No thank you; but I know where one is needed. Clean up the polluted river? A fantastic idea, of which I actually thought, so off you go. I think City Hall needs new leadership, so why don’t you run for mayor? Someone better do something about that pothole on Main. Cars drive too fast down my street; why doesn’t someone do something? Clean up the park, build houses for the homeless, adopt a shelter dog, recycle, stop air pollution, grow your own food, feed the hungry, clothe the needy.
I have all these ideas and no one will execute on them.
It’s as if no one wants to work anymore.”
Excerpted from an interview with F. Rutherfords Finklehouse-Shays, heir to the Finklehouse-Shays diamond mining empire.
This “essay” or short story (or perhaps satirical monologue, as was suggested to me, would be better) was written for the monthly Symposium at the Soaring Twenties Social Club (https://soaringtwenties.substack.com/). The topic for the November issue is “Work”.