Full-time working Americans spend, on average, 41 hours on the clock per week. A third of them work over 45 hours, and one-in-eight over 55.

In the industrial age, the idea of working between 40–55 hours per week sounded like pure delusion. We all learned about the backbreaking, dangerous, alienating working conditions of the late 1800s and early 1900s. Don’t be fooled. We still exist to serve someone else, and our very livelihoods are under threat each minute we take our being in the world for granted.

We are always tired. There is always something, whether in the back of our minds or out in front of us, that keeps us from attaining a true sense of freedom. You wake up early for work, clock in, clock out, turn on the TV, and get ready for bed because there’s work tomorrow. Even our vacations are soured at the end; on the ride home, you know you’ll be back to your normal life tomorrow, as the pendulum of the next week returns to swing between pain and boredom. …


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Marcus Aurelius chilling

In a seemingly-postmodern world, where the only certainty is uncertainty, and social media, AI, and other technological fluff have dominated our quarantined lives, it only makes sense that the Stoic writings of Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus have leaped to the forefront of pop philosophy. …


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Credit — wearecognitive.com

It’s perfectly natural to feel sympathetic, even if the circumstances causing your sympathy aren’t under your control. You sympathize with the homeless guy that never seems to fail in making eye contact with you on your commute to work — after all, one of you is sitting in a leather-padded seat, and the other in a makeshift tent. You also sympathize with the citizens of nations undergoing terrorist attacks. You sympathize with those struggling over the COVID-19 pandemic; the dying, sick, and dirt-poor.

The common denominator behind these everyday moments and our gravitation towards sympathizing with them is that we aren’t directly in control of them. We can give the homeless guy a few dollars, which should afford him a sandwich or a pair of socks. We can donate to organizations that raise awareness for terrorist attacks. We can volunteer at a soup kitchen or provide our own facemasks. But, while these efforts are helpful in the short-term, they fail to provide a significant change for the lives of others in the long-term. And you know that. Unless, of course, you think the homeless man has the time and wherewithal to turn your $5 into $5,000 overnight. …


Incremental reform within America’s policing systems hasn’t been working. After the Ferguson shooting in 2014, where an 18-year old unarmed black man named Michael Brown was murdered at the hands of a white police officer, six cities — Pittsburgh, Stockton, Birmingham, Fort Worth, Gary, and Minneapolis — initiated policies meant to reduce the rates of police brutality and strengthen the bond between police departments and their citizens. …


Disasters cause loyalists. People look to our leaders for help, and — whether they receive it or not — are easily swayed into looking optimistically towards the future. Political figures give heartwarming speeches about how we will get through this as a nation, as we “always do”, and, among the heroic doctors and samaritans spending countless hours working to solve the crises, billionaires who chip into various charities are regarded as benevolent humanitarians. Rinse and repeat.

But for now, the subways remain crowded with working people, all of whom would rather be home. They’re stocking the aisles of Target with the necessities that those at home, with the luxury of safety, will be ordering online. Fast-food workers will still be in contact with dozens of customers. First responders will continue to work tirelessly, knowing that the next emergency could be the one that infects them. Everyone knows how you get the virus; only some have the security to keep away from it. Stimulus package efforts, supposedly aimed at alleviating the impact of the working people, have been underwhelmingly, unsurprisingly mediocre. The Federal Reserve’s corporate fund, however, will manage to provide around $4-$4.5 Trillion to the wealthiest corporations in the nation. As the Washington Post’s Helaine Olen puts it, “The just-passed stimulus bill is not only a missed opportunity to permanently give American workers the benefits enjoyed by those in other wealthy countries, but yet another successful cash grab by corporate interests and the wealthiest among us. …


“As long as there have been men and they have lived, they have all felt this tragic ambiguity of their condition, but as long as there have been philosophers and they have thought, most of them have tried to mask it. They have striven to reduce mind to matter, or to reabsorb matter into mind, or to merge them within a single substance… They have denied death, either by integrating it with life or by promising to man immortality. Or, again they have denied life, considering it as a veil of illusion beneath which is hidden the truth of Nirvana… And the ethics which they have proposed to their disciples has always pursued the same goal. It has been a matter of eliminating the ambiguity by making oneself pure inwardness or pure externality, by escaping from the sensible world or by being engulfed in it, by yielding to eternity or enclosing oneself in the pure moment.” (Simone de Beauvoir, The Ethics of Ambiguity, pp. …


“Let us consider the waiter in the cafe. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes towards the customers with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the client… All his behaviour seems to us a game. He applies himself to linking his movements as if they were mechanisms, the one regulating the other; his gestures and even his voice seem to be mechanisms; he gives himself the quickness and pitiless rapidity of things. He is playing, he is amusing himself. But what is he playing? We need not watch long before we can explain it: he is playing at being a waiter in a cafe.” (Jean-Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, pp. …


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“Eyes” by Henri Matisse, 1951.

Have you ever been sitting in some public place — say, a cafe or subway — and you glance up and see somebody really attractive? Attractive in a sense you can’t really explain. They’re just your type. Maybe it’s their clothes, or their hair, or their face, or height, or all of these put together. You go back to reading that book you were holding, but, now, you can’t really focus on the book as well as you were before. You can’t help but glance up again once in a while. They’re just minding their business, and you, yours — but you catch yourself more focused on that person than whatever you were doing before. …


With the rise of Internet rap in the mid-2000s follows a new sound — one that aims to twist as many rules of contemporary rap music as possible. In his second EP, 5% Aquarium, Drool Audrey fuels the fire of modern experimental hip-hop through mind-bending trap-based production, vivid, outlandish storytelling, and deliberate, unconventional flows that ride over the beat with ease. Drool begins the EP with an opening line that promptly captures the unique absurdity of his sound: “Told this thot come over, let’s go see pink elephants / I just popped up like ‘ahoy’, I’m feeling excellent.” The production is often metallic, pulsing, and bass-heavy; easy enough to follow, yet nuanced enough to be tough to grasp at first listen. …


Kid A was born out of frustration.

The release of OK Computer in 1997 changed everything for Radiohead. It was fascinating, thought-provoking, critiquing, and — more than anything — emotional. Eerie, allusive commentaries on modern technology’s ability to brainwash, monotony in the working world, and a sense of impending doom from who-knows-what, along with masterful melodies and unforgettable drops, spread throughout the project with a chilling intensity. From the moment the album was released, they were critically-acclaimed as the “saviors of rock”, a group that could finally provide the blunt introspection the world needed to hear. …

About

Ethan Hekker

I study Philosophy at Sac State, but I also write Philosophy at Medium.com

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