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Total Work Newsletter #27: Join Me In A Day of Rest

August 4 · Issue #27 · View online
Total Work Newsletter: How Work Took Over the World
Total Work, a term coined by the philosopher Josef Pieper, is the process by which human beings are transformed into workers as work, like a total solar eclipse symbolized in the logo above, comes to obscure all other aspects of life. In these newsletters, I document, reflect upon, and seek to understand this world historical process, one that started at least as far back as 1800 and possibly as early as 1500.
Announcement: Since Alexandra and I will be traveling back to Southern California next week, I’m not sure whether I’ll put out Issue #28 next week or the week after that.

Being Slaves And Whores Of Civilization
John Hughes in The End of Work: Theological Critiques of Capitalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), p. 185:
Business and commerce are not evil activities in themselves; the tragic difference in the modern period is that these activities are no longer subordinate to higher ends and greater social goods but have been released from traditional restraints and made the ultimate horizon of human living [cf. my The Good Life and Sustaining Life–AT]: ‘That men of business [writes Eric Gill] should be our rulers is bad enough; that their way of thinking should permeate and possess the minds of whole nations is a tragedy compared with which war, pestilence and famine fade into significance.’ When Gill claims that such a ‘civilization’ is little more than slavery and whoredom, [William] Morris could hardly have expressed himself better!
Anticareerism, Craft, And Monasticism
#1: AGAINST WORK/LIFE BALANCE | David Whyte On How To Break The Tyranny Of Work/Life Balance | 12 min. | Brain Pickings | Review HT Pete Sims
#2: ANTICAREERISM | The Case Against Careers | 7 min. | Quartz At Work | Opinion
#3: CREATIVITY | 1 Creative Thing: E=MC^2 For Dummies | 2 min. | Axios | Newsletter
#4: CRAFT IS (SORTA) BACK | How Craft Is Good For Our Health | 5 min. | Conversation | Opinion HT Pamela Hobart
#5: MONASTICISM | Luther’s Rejection Of Monasticism | 15 min. | Orthodox Outlet | Excerpt
The Crisis Of Meaning And Philosophy's Renewed Passion For Truth
From John Paul II’s Encyclical Letter, Fides et Ratio: On the Relationship between Faith and Reason (1998):
One of the most significant aspects of our current situation, it should be noted, is the “crisis of meaning.” Perspectives on life and the world, often of a scientific temper, have so proliferated that we face an increasing fragmentation of knowledge. This makes the search for meaningful difficult and often fruitless. Indeed, still more dramatically, in this maelstrom of data and facts in which we live and which seem to comprise the very fabric of life, many people wonder whether it still makes sense to ask about meaning. The array of theories which vie to give an answer, and the different ways of viewing and of interpreting the world and human life, serve only to aggravate this radical doubt, which can easily lead to skepticism, indifference or to various forms of nihilism.
In consequence, the human spirit is often invaded by a kind of ambiguous thinking which leads it to an ever deepening introversion, locked within the confines of its own immanence without reference of any kind to the transcendent. A philosophy which no longer asks the question of the meaning of life would be in grave danger of reducing reason to merely accessory functions, with no real passion for the search for truth.
To be consonant with the word of God, philosophy needs first of all to recover its sapiential dimension as a search for the ultimate and overarching meaning of life. This first requirement is in fact most helpful in stimulating philosophy to conform to its proper nature. In doing so, it will be not only the decisive critical factor which determines the foundations and limits of the different fields of scientific learning, but will also take its place as the ultimate framework of the unity of human knowledge and action, leading them to converse toward a final goal and meaning. This sapiential dimension is all the more necessary today, because the immense expansion of humanity’s technical capability demands a renewed and sharpened sense of ultimate values. If this technology is not ordered to something greater than a merely utilitarian end, then it could soon prove inhuman and even become a potential destroyer of the human race. (pp. 101-2)
Join Me In A Day Of Rest
Some months ago, a friend of mine sent me the late Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book The Sabbath. I read it and was delighted. Since at least April 2017, I’ve been concerned, as you all know, with what the Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper once called “total work.” 
Over the years, I’ve listened to conversation partners in my philosophy practice talk about how total work has been weighing them down, and I’ve also begun writing a book about it.
And so, after my wife Alexandra and I returned from sesshin (in case you missed it, you can read a bit about it in Issue #25), we decided it was time to devote one day a week to rest–not for the sake of enhancing our productive capacities but “autotelicly,” that is, purely for its own sake and for the sake of rediscovering that sense of abiding stillness that is, if only we open ourselves to it, is always there. Our Sabbath, which admittedly involves a bit of “life hacking,” happens to fall on each Wednesday.
The Schedule Of Our Sabbath
A day of rest is not a day of idleness. It is, rather, a day of focused, relaxed energy, one that’s centered on the Source of Life or on ultimate questions.
On the night before each Sabbath, Alexandra and I turn off our mobile devices. We don’t use the Internet on the Sabbath and keep our phones turned off.
Our day observes the following schedule:
4:30 a.m.: Wake up
4:45 a.m.-6:15 a.m.: Seated meditation
6:30 a.m.-7:15 a.m.: Dry sauna meditation*
7:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.: Art-making (Alexandra: visual art; Andrew: writing)
10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Ashtanga Yoga as spiritual practice
11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Mindful lunch and leisurely walk
12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.: Art-making (Alexandra: visual art; Andrew: writing)
2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Reading
3:45 p.m.-4:45 p.m.: Love-making
5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: Mindful dinner and leisurely walk
7:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.: Seated meditation
8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.: Reading
9:00 p.m.: Bedtime
Our day, as you can see, is focused on the aesthetic and the contemplative. What can be challenging is making the transition seamless from X to Y. It can be easy to get attached to what you’re doing or to feel minor resistance to the next thing. To definitively mark the beginning and ending of each activity, therefore, we strike a Tibetan singing bowl.
Two Questions: Rest From What? Rest For What?
It’s key to discern what you’re resting from and what you’re giving yourself up to. Alexandra and I were resting from Internet and device use. She was resting from the tasks she ordinarily does, and I was resting from the conversations I usually have. And we were resting for the sake of contemplating ultimate things.
An Invitation
I invite you to join me in resting. You needn’t devote an entire day to rest, but what about part of a day? What if you devoted part of any day to contemplating why you’re here or to what human existence, yours especially, is all about? What if you set aside that time to inquire deeply into what matters most yet is too often forgotten? How indeed might Life in general and your life in particular be transformed?
* We have a dry sauna at our house.
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Comments, Suggestions, Articles on Total Work?
Feel free to send comments, suggestions, thoughts, and articles about total work to me at Andrew Taggart <>.
If You’d Like to Become a Patron…
Thank you to my growing list of patrons! If you feel called to support my philosophical life, you can do so here <>.
For Newcomers
Looking for some clarity about the nature and history of total work? Start by reading my brief overview of total work on my Patreon account <>, Next, take a look at the first issue of this newsletter <> Next, check out my Quartz at Work pieces (December 2017- present), which are available here <>. Lastly, visit my website, <>, which is devoted to investigating this topic and which is also still under construction.
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