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It hurts my brain to imagine being a 66 year old man writing angsty letters that read like that of a highschooler.



Wow.

There is no hint of a contrived disaffected and put-on teenage style angst here (even if that is a thing!). He is celebrating his freedom from bondage at age 65, from the tyranny of a boss wielding his fate at a whim, from suffering the fate of “emptying out” as a consequence of slaving at jobs that are no better than slavery was for folks living in ancient times.

You read that as “teenage angst”? May I ask how old are you? And may I ask kindly also: was there ever a choice in your life when you thought being a barfly would be better for you than toiling at your “post office”?

If we can’t countenance his exposition of our pathetic working lives (and he does this in brutal and lucid prose), it’s only because we are likely deluding ourselves we aren’t living the way he sees it.

Cognitive dissonance may be at work here.


Ugh, comparing modern 9-5 office jobs to slavery is privileged hyperbole. Our ancestors were nearly all farmers and they all worked 12 hour days of back breaking labor. Modern office corporate jobs may be a bit soul sucking, but they're far from blue collar labor. In some respects they're almost too easy (in that they aren't physical enough to replicate the conditions our bodies adapted to).


Lighter perhaps, but if living were that much easier we wouldn't have the levels of anxiety, depression, burnout, and suicide we have. The levels would then be much, much lower. Especially as we do know so much more about these issues than we did even 50 years ago. But it seems, it's not that simple, something has changed that makes many people miserable in a way that seems to completely offset the material, for lack of a better word, decrease in strife in our lives.

Something about our psychology that meshes terribly with society, but obviously not for all members of society. However, those it hits seem to get hit quite hard.


You are assuming levels of anxiety and depression were lower in the past. But we can't know that since these were not reliably diagnosed in the past. You suggest the levels should be lower today because we know more about these issues - I would expect it would be the other way around: The more we know (and the better overall healthcare) the more instances will be recognized and diagnosed.


I suspect it's that people nowadays have less of a community and feel more alone. Even our way of consuming materialism has become more individualistic. I dislike religious organisations, but I'll admit they did do wonders to bring a community of people together.


A 9-5 quintessentially involves:

- no ownership of your physical and intellectual contribution to your employer

- devoting at great cost to your own personal life the most productive time of your own life to your employer

- running the very real possibility of marooning your skill sets for the exclusive benefit for and relevance to your employer (you do as told)

- running the risk of being fired at a whim especially at later stages of the “career”, becoming of zero value economically in a system designed to create humans as obsolete - much like when a slave is “freed” by a master when he is of no use to him.

I’d take toiling all day in the farms if it meant it’s my farm and it’s my time, and my way of farming. And my kids are toiling with me too.

Yes, this is quite the Marxist way of thinking ... but this perspective needn’t require a Marxist eye - see it for what it is from a value-system that doesn’t dehumanize and disenfranchises the individual from his works.


> Yes, this is quite the Marxist way of thinking ... but this perspective needn’t require a Marxist eye - see it for what it is from a value-system that doesn’t dehumanize and disenfranchises the individual from his works.

I agree that it certainly doesn't require a Marxist eye, and I'm not sure that it is even specifically Marxist in it's analysis. It sounds closer to a Distributist model of thinking. As G.K. Chesterton said, "The problem with a capitalist society is not that there are too many capitalists, but too few". Too few who own their own means of production, too few who can rely on their own capital and community to weather the storms of life or prevent the encroachments of monopolists and the state alike.


> I’d take toiling all day in the farms if it meant it’s my farm and it’s my time, and my way of farming. And my kids are toiling with me too.

This is doable, there are people living like that even in first world countries.


Lies. Farmers didn't work that much.


If it's not contrived and disaffected, that's even worse. This particularly:

"They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this. Why couldn't they? I figured the park bench was just as good or being a barfly was just as good"

Could have been posted on Reddit IAmVerySmart or im14andthisisdeep for the style of writing. He genuinely believes that he is more clever and seeing something they cannot see? (Why does he think they are unhappy at all if they can't see that?). And is somehow working under the idea that he could have no income and a bar would still serve him alcohol, because if it's his role in life to be the more-intelligent-than-you outsider, of course the bar would fall in line with this vision (narcissism). And note that after seeing this truth which they were too dumb to see .. he didn't go and live on a park bench. It clearly was not "just as good" to him, he only wants to posture that it was as good so he looks better. So much for deep insight nobody else possessed, he was doing the exact same thing they were.

They know this. Everyone knows this. Everyone who has had a job they don't like for more than a month realises they have no way out. He even quotes several of them saying that exact thing he claims they can't see, in his letter.

I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing,

Oh fck right off, 66 at the time of writing and still singing his own praises like that? The USA and UK are raising state pension age to 67 as we speak, and that's for labouring jobs as well. Working at age 66, Writing at age 66, is no superior feat of endurance. Admiral Grace Hopper retired at age 60, was recalled to the Navy within a year, retired again four years later. Returned to active duty again, was promoted again, retired again at age 79, then went to be a senior consultant at DEC and stayed employed there until her death age 85. And she wasn't boasting about how great she was, she was talking about the younger people she was training and supporting.

Even Heinlein doesn't explicitly self-promote this hard, at least he tries to lecture the reader with "worldly wisdom" for the reader's own benefit, and you just get the superiority as a secondary effect from the way every wise character is Mary-Sue, and it's never done in a "plus you're a loser" way.

He is celebrating his freedom from bondage at age 65, from the tyranny of a boss wielding his fate at a whim

According to the article his income depended on him being a full-time author, and the whim of a wealthy patron. And his "freedom" was age 51.

from suffering the fate of “emptying out”

Jobs he somehow survived thirty years of, and didn't quit to be on a park bench, and didn't consider himself empty and broken and devoid of anything to write about. I guess that's just another way he's better than all those other shlubs, eh?


You're getting downvoted, but I just want to let you know that you're absolutely right. It's a very adolescent thing to reduce life-meaning down to career, and project one's angst onto everybody else. I'm all for finding a way to enjoy the 1/3 of life that is your career, but the "wake up sheeple" alarmism is not higher vision, it's a failure to see both the restrictions of a scarce economy and the joys of family and responsibility.


Have you ever considered that his angst is what highschoolers are trying to emulate?

It's like shitting on Hamlet because it's just a "recycled Lion King".


What does angsty mean? I am never sure if people are using it as a fancy word for 'angry' or they're adopting the german meaning of 'fearful', or 'anxious'.


Honestly, when people use it, they really mean "anger that I personally disapprove of". The choice to say "angsty" instead of "angry" says more about the person making the word choice than it does about the person being described.


UrbanDictionary definitions are quite apt (possibly NSFW link) https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=angsty

the feeling of not being understood by anyone and that the person is alone in the world. When in reality about a million other people are feeling the same thing.

Whining about how much your life "sucks" even though you live in the richest nation in the world and are a pampered little while [white?] boy/girl. Usually teenagers desplay this quality of "No one loves me or understands me".

and https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Angst

A feeling of despair, anxiety, and depression. It is usually applied to a deep and essentially philosophical anxiety about the world in general or personal freedom.

a feeling of dread, anxiety, or anguish that is commonly associated with the teenage years. And angsty teenager tends to wallow in these feeling melodramatically, wanting pity from others while also simultaneously wishing to remain tragically misunderstood, much to the annoyance of his friends.


The difference between fear and 'Angst' is that fear has a tangible object of which somebody can be afraid and 'Angst' doesn't.

So as far as I understand it, people are angsty because they feel afraid but they can't put their finger on the cause, so the only way to react is being angry at each and everybody.

From my point of view, people are using 'angsty' to distance themselves from a problem that they have chosen to ignore. E.g. there are some problems with global warming, but even now, you can ignore them by telling yourself that it's teenage angst that makes people care about it.


He’s not wrong though.


Huh? Bukowski is a world-known writer and poet.


Someone can be world known and still criticized - though it does make you somewhat of a social pariah to do so openly. I'm afraid to tell HN what I think of Picasso, for example.




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