I’m very happy to be in the current issue (no. 35) of The Baffler. My article, “Did the Fun Work?” is an assessment of the role of leisure on contemporary society. What do we expect from leisure? What constitutes leisure? Is leisure, in fact, the opposite of labor?
The issue’s theme is “The Bad Society,” so that provides a sense of where I come down on these questions. But I don’t want to be merely an armchair curmudgeon. With many people feeling worn out and alienated by the oppressions of neoliberal capitalism, leisure seems like a positive antidote. But I urge us to examine what leisure has become. Is leisure, in its present state, something we want more of? Or might we want to remake it?
As neoliberalism reduces happiness to its uses, it steers our interests toward confirming our own feelings via external assessment. This assessment just so happens to require apparatuses (smartphones, laptops, Apple watches) and measurement units (faves, shares, star ratings) that turn us into eager buyers of consumer products and require our willing submission to corporate surveillance.
Finally, thanks to Stephan Walter for the brilliant illustration.