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How to stay awake: Really! Trying! by meeks
April 13, 2012, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

I once read that Wayne Coyne, frontman of Flaming lips, worked as a short order cook at Long John Silver’s for a decade. I always wondered how he was able to artistically revive himself after such a long period doing tedious, monotonous work. If I recall correctly, he remembers the time fondly and found the experience to be an important prelude to his later artistic period for giving his mind the time and space to drift.

I wonder about the long term ramifications of rote work on different people. As a new worker, these are questions beyond the horizon that I will probably never be able to answer from personal experience, but as a scientist and cultural critic they are tantalizing. I wonder about the effect on the psyche of imputing personally meaningless numbers for a decade, or even a epoch timespan.

I do not think that I am being dramatic overstating the possible effects. The reality for most people is that they spend most of their day working. For example, you sleep for 8 hrs, work for 10, that is 3/4ths of your day spent in ambient darkness. I consider the workplace with its neutral hues, limited windows, inoffensive music, and fluorescent lighting (actually the whitest form of common lighting) an environment designed to deflect notice, therefore a sort of awake darkness. The body has a way of shedding excess through atrophy. Prisoners held for years in solitary confinement go blind; those that stop eating lose their taste buds.

For now, Corporatopia is new and exciting, even the grey and tan jigsaw pattern on my cubicle walls are striking. But subsisting in an environment that takes great pains to not be stimulating to withhold art and aesthetics, for years, decades, a generation, well, I fear that grey has a way of sinking in.

Apparently, Wayne Coyne was able to push through the doors of perception even after being held to a fryer for the better part of a decade. Was it the the thrill of waking-up out of a stagnant life that pushed him through? A yin to a later yang. But what happens if one never wakes up?

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1 Comment so far
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Maybe Wayne Coyne really enjoyed cooking at Long John Silver’s, too? I know I would enjoy a job washing dishes or cleaning, even though it wouldn’t be nearly as intellectually or emotionally stimulating as, say, writing.

Comment by Andy Shenk




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