The Anxiety of the Freshly Unemployed Man on Labor Day

The Anxiety of the Freshly Unemployed Man on Labor Day September 7, 2015

It is an obvious fact that the postmodern contract economy is not made for the dignity of man as subject and maker.  It only wants to multiply capital for the sake of economic growth. If it were anything else, then we wouldn’t treat real estate as a field for financial speculation, but as a means toward the end of providing people with homes.

The only good thing that might come from it is a sense of solidarity between those who are in great anxiety. As Romano Guardini speculated in The End of the Modern World (in a passage Walker Percy used as an epigram for The Last Gentleman) there is a chance that all these anxieties will bring people together, convert their understanding of the world, with their anxious loneliness as an impetus:

We know that the modern world is coming to an end… At the same time, the unbeliever will emerge from the fogs of secularism. He will cease to reap benefit from the values and forces developed by the very Revelation he denies… Loneliness in faith will be terrible. Love will disappear from the face of the public world, but the more precious will be that love which flows from one lonely person to another…. The world to come will be filled with animosity and danger, but it will be a world open and clean.

I am proud to say that my readers have reached out with their love in return for my labors on this blog. Your financial support has frequently helped me through some very rough patches.

I would like to thank you on this Labor Day. I hope your support continues, because I’m facing a dizzying array of choices in the coming weeks and I’m not sure whether any of them will pan out, or if they do pan out, whether they will be right and just choices.

Freedom is frequently a trap, which is something the modern ideology of freedom doesn’t comprehend. Freedom, exercising it in the dark in an uncertain economy, is my fundamental anxiety. I’m exposed to countless possibilities, but as Walker Percy said in The Last Gentleman, that’s nothing:

Like many young men in the South, he had trouble ruling out the possible. They are not like an immigrant’s son in Passaic who desires to become a dentist and that is that. Southerners have trouble ruling out the possible. What happens to a… man to whom all things seem possible and every course of action open? Nothing of course.

As I told my daughters who came in to jump on our bed as I typed this, “Please stop, let me gather myself, finish writing. Then, then I don’t know what. Nothing.”

I don’t doubt many of you are going through some of the the same and I offer you my prayers and confusion today. May you find your calling or at least fake it until you make something of it. The Polish poet Stanislaw Baranczak captured the precariousness of the need to feel at home in this world well in an untitled poem from his collection The Weight of the Body:

If porcelain, then only the kind
you won’t miss under the shoe of a mover or the tread of a tank;
if a chair, then not too comfortable, lest
there be regret in getting up and leaving;
if clothing, then just so much as can fit in a suitcase,
if books, then those which can be carried in the memory,
if plans, then those which can be overlooked
when the time comes for the next move
to another street, continent, historical period
or world:

who told you that you were permitted to settle in?
who told you that this or that would last forever?
did no one ever tell you that you will never
in the world
feel at home in the world?

Now I’ll go back to the swimming in my head as I sort through tons of job ads and send out my resume like some prayer for an impossible home in this world beyond constant anxiety, or at least a temporary stay.

This is the singular anxiety of a freshly unemployed man on Labor Day.

I don’t know if any of this makes sense, but I’m confused and anxious, so I hope you’ll excuse what I’ve attempted to write here.

By the way, Heidegger was a conflicted Catholic, and influenced writers such as Guardini and Percy.

Please help out through the PayPal donation button on my homepage if you can.

Do contact me if you have any work leads–even contract jobs–in the Seattle area. I suppose I would consider moving somewhere else too if something enticing were available. If you have academic leads then I’m willing to go pretty much anywhere, anytime, because that’s what the academic market requires. My specialty is in comparative literature and religion, but I can teach just about anything (and have done so in the past). I also do editing freelance and translation from Polish to English. The easiest way to contact me is through the Cosmos the in Lost Faceebook page email option.



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