In 2008, performance artist Pilvi Takala took her seat as a new employee at the company Deloitte, a global consulting firm, and began to stare into space. When asked by other employees what she was doing, she said, “brain work” or that she was working “on her thesis.” One day she rode the elevator up and down the entire workday. When asked where she was going, she said nowhere.
This image of utter inactivity, writes Jenny Odell in her book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, is what completely “galled” Takala’s coworkers.
In capitalist American culture, productivity is sacrosanct. If somebody says they had a productive day, the implicit assumption is that they had a good day. Descriptions like “non-contributing member of society” and “loiterer” clearly stigmatize those who aren’t considered productive.
For Odell, this stigma on unproductivity is a real problem. What we really need is to loiter more, do less—in fact, she seems to say, life on this planet might depend on it.
For years, my work as a journalist has centered on the climate crisis, the displacement of people, and the proliferation of segregating, militarized borders around the world. I’ve seen the ways that the hyperproductivity that drives capitalism helped create these problems.
Read the rest, as published in Yes! Magazine, right here .