There's No Space for Gift

Peter Rollins on Almost Heretical:

You’re supposed to like your job, which is horrific. Not only do you have to work for somebody, you have to like it. You have to wear their t-shirts. I mean, that’s a sign of an idiot. I mean, you’re being exploited. If you work in a company, they’re exploiting you, right? In the old days, you knew that, but you had to do it because you have to feed your kids and you have to, you know, bring home the work.

And so you did it five days a week. You signed off at five and you forgot about your work and at the weekend you didn’t think about it. Now you have to go to work, and as I say, you have to wear their t-shirt, have to go on their retreats and have to smile all the time. It’s like, not only are you alienated, you have to deny that you’re alienated, which causes symptoms.

Because what is a symptom? A symptom tells the truth that you cannot tell yourself. So if you have to pretend that everything’s great, the symptom explodes. And of course we’re seeing the explosion of all these…I mean, fatigue is a very interesting modern symptom that you could say is a type of protest precisely against this weaving of everything into productivity. There’s no space for gift.


When I wrote 2023 in Review: Preface on the first of this year, I was maybe sensing something, a reconfiguring, some hint at the acknowledgement of all these symptoms (fatigue being primary among them) telling me a truth that I cannot tell myself.

I’ve still picked up and started Cal Newport’s new book, Slow Productivity. He might be onto something, too. I need to finish this podcast and read that book, but I’m too busy trying to be productive.

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