Thursday, January 27, 2022

"Quit Your Job "

From Palladium Magazine, January 6, 2022:

I quit my engineering job in 2014. I was good at it and it was good to me, but it wasn’t the future. I was still working out my plans, so I hit the gym, pursued the most interesting and important ideas I could find, and started looking for a wife.

I met her at a party. I liked her hair. She liked my name. I made fun of her career. She gave me her number. Her friend, who was into prophecy, told her I would be her future husband. It still took work, but it helps to have Providence on your side.

It also helped that I was unemployed. I had time to court her properly. I’ve heard that middle-class people with respectable jobs have fewer kids than people who don’t work as hard. I’m not surprised. She believed in the virtue of poverty and also believed in me, so we didn’t worry about money. A little over a year later, we were married with a little help from our friends. It’s surprising how many more resources you have than you might think, especially when you have a good purpose and you bother to actually call them in.

When I wasn’t lifting and courting, I was building a network of intellectuals interested in problems of governance from beyond the established liberal democratic paradigm. I didn’t know why it was interesting. In fact, I thought it was a vice. “This is bad for your career,” said the little wage-slave voice in my head, “you should be focusing on more lucrative projects.”

The little voice was wrong. It was through those intellectual networks that I got my next job and built the social capital which allows me and my friends the freedom to pursue the important problems we have been tasked with. You’re reading one result: Palladium Magazine.

The next job I got was unorthodox. Someone had asked one of my friends to refer them to the most ambitious, open-minded, and public-spirited people he knew. He introduced me. The job would give me the freedom to pursue what was most important. I was a fit, but I felt I hadn’t been unemployed long enough yet.

I debated with my collaborators over the next year or so. Is this what we really wanted to do with our lives? Or should we get safer hobbies like drunken rock climbing? If we were in, we should be in with our whole lives and deaths, and with all our resources, because this stuff can’t be pursued by anything less than the whole person. We were in. We moved from around the world to the center of the universe in California. Once there, we got jobs where we could pursue our project full time.

By 2018, the incubation had been successful. Almost exactly four years after I quit my last real job, we launched Palladium Magazine as the discourse center and beacon by which we would develop our intellectual project and attract more talented collaborators. It’s been going well. The people we’ve met through Palladium are among the best we know.

The reason any of this is worth sharing is because it’s my example of what you might call “active unemployment,” or if you prefer the traditional term, “leisure.” The Romans called it “otium.”....