Nancy Huntting, Aesthetic Realism consultant, writes:
What troubles people so much—each and every day—-is deeply and magnificently explained in “Restlessness, Understood at Last“! Find out what causes restlessness, how it’s encouraged by our current economic system, and what can truly end it—in this thrilling new issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.
The commentary by Ellen Reiss begins:
Dear Unknown Friends:
Here is the second part in our two-part publication of Mind and Restlessness, by Eli Siegel. He gave this lecture—this definitive, wonderful, immensely kind lecture—in 1948, and what we are publishing is a reconstruction of it from the notes of two people present then: Martha Baird and my mother, Irene Reiss. Early in the talk he said:
Restlessness can be defined as motion with againstness. And there is something compulsory about the motion….It’s motion without symmetry, motion that is undesired….The restlessness that is the deepest is the feeling of not being at home in the world you have been born into….In fact, not being at home in the world is one of the larger definitions of restlessness.
In this talk Mr. Siegel does what no one else has done: he explains restlessness. It is a state of being that distresses people intensely, and which itself is distress. He explains it in its intricacy, subtlety, depth, as well as in its overt manifestations. And he does so in great spoken prose. While what he says is about people of all centuries, I mentioned in the last issue some particular forms of restlessness in America today. I continue doing so, as I speak about a restlessness forced on people by our current economy.
Jobs, Money, Restlessness
In the 1970s, Eli Siegel explained that a way of economics which has gone on for centuries no longer works. This economic way is based on contempt, on seeing human beings in terms of how much profit somebody can squeeze out of them. And it will, he showed, never recover. For the past four decades there has been an intense effort to keep alive that contemptuous economic arrangement. And one result of the effort has been conditions making for a tremendous, widespread restlessness.
There is the so-called “gig economy.” It includes, according to forbes.com, “more than one third (36 percent) of U.S. workers…, 57 million people” (8-31-2018). “Gig economy” is a cute term, and even has something of a chic sound to it. But really, it’s a term for something terrible. “Gig economy” means an economy in which people do not have a steady job: they get a short-term job (a gig), with no benefits of course, and no sense of how long they’ll have to hunt, with no money coming in, until getting the next “gig.” Will they be on the hunt for months—years—longer? And if there is a next “gig,” will it pay them what they need? So people have to worry about whether they’ll have an income at all, be able to feed their family, whether they’ll make their mortgage payments or pay their rent, whether they’ll have a home at all. The “gig economy” forces a constant restlessness on people. In keeping with the description of restlessness I quoted: how can you feel “at home in the world” amid a situation of such day-after-day uncertainty and worry, such “undesired,” “compulsory” motion?
There’s been a big propaganda attempt to make this way of working seem fashionable, “flexible,” and to make what has been called job security seem so outdated. But the “gig economy” exists for only one reason: so that as much of the profit as possible generated by any job can go to the employer rather than to the persons doing the work. If work consists of “gigs,” the employer has little obligation to the people working for him or her—can dispose of them easily, evade paying benefits, and of course evade the possibility of a union with its insistence that those who work be treated with justice, including financial justice….Read more