But we also like work because, the truth is, it’s fun if you do it right—that is, work without fun is just an empty motion, like having sex with a prostitute. In Alabama, work without fun is called work once removed, because it’s like having sex with your cousin once removed.
History bears witness to the confluence of work and fun—the civilizations that did the most work always had the most fun.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did very little work, and they were in a constant state of panic, which, through the miracle of evolutionary psychology, we use to rationalize our addiction to xanax.
The ancient Greeks and Romans were split up into two classes of people: one waged war to avoid work while the other studied scrolls to avoid work. We don’t know if warriors or scholars had any fun, but we do know that their modern counterparts, jocks and nerds, don’t have as much fun as Van Wilder.
At the onset of their civilization, the Arabs worked harder than any group of people. They even figured out how to cure infection, which was tons of fun if you had an infection. Not too much later, after Arabs acquired the taste for beating women, they began to kill people who did work because they decided that feeling a false sense of superiority was better than having fun.
In the middle ages, no one worked, and so it’s no surprise that people needed plagues just to have something to talk about. Historians are still trying to figure out how humanity didn’t die off before the 15th Century. I contest that we persisted because of the Catholic church’s institutionalized breeding through marriage. This may have been practical, but Catholic sex is anything but fun.
And finally, the North won the American Civil War because they did more work than the South, and winning a war always calls for cheer, which is why the French are so rude. There may have been more labor in the South, but having a person do a job for free is about as productive as hiring a stripper to change your oil, and not in the male g-spot kind of way.
Historical demonstrations are fun, but the question still remains: How can we get excited about a certain project at work, even if it’s difficult, yet drag our feet through other projects, even if they’re easy?
Many reasons come to my mind, most of which involve the acquisition of money and sexual partners, but one in particular is relevant today. I think that “work” is different from work because productivity isn’t simply a motion as I implied earlier with a gratuitous incest joke. Man’s work is the direct result of the way that he thinks, so if we understand why the work that we do is important, and if we know why we’re doing the work, then we feel our lives have at least a glimmer of purpose, which is just about the most fun thing ever.
Karl Marx, Noam Chomsky, and anyone else with a library larger than their common sense would celebrate Labor Day for the same reason that they would celebrate an ant colony. But labor is mindless only for those who think that man’s need to provide for his life is a Sisyphean struggle.
Instead, let’s use Labor Day to celebrate the first, crucial step in all real work. This isn’t just important for living the most fun life we can, but without humanity’s ability to think, Marx would have been right.