Monday, March 26, 2012

Work, Labor, Play

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Work is fun. Labor is not fun. W.H. Auden was a man who was from York, England and became an instant celebrity with in the literary community. In Auden’s essay, titled Work, Labor, and Play, he talks of the issues of the world and how people are, within their jobs. He talks of how work is enjoyable and labor being not enjoyable. Play is bountiful in the world of the laborer but is not always good. Auden was a man who realized that the world was changing and machines were to make most of the world’s population laborers. Auden explains what will come of life within the “Real World.” One has two choices, to work and be happy or be a laborer and get senseless time off.


Labor is found when a man does a job that does not require him personally or a job one does not like to do. Labor is what a person does for a living and nothing more. A laborer does not feel important or free. Auden writes of an example comparing a laborer to a “Wage Slave.” Auden says that, “A man is a laborer if the job society offers him is of no interest to himself but he is compelled to take it by the necessity of earning a living and supporting a family.” Auden writes of how a man cannot and will not be happy if he does not feel important and free to do as he pleases. Work is enjoyable to a man who loves his job and is not compelled by society to do a job. It is someone who does his job even if it was not his job. Auden says that, “…To be classified as labor or work depends, not on the job itself, but on the tastes of the individual who undertakes it.”


There, however, is a solution to the problem of being a laborer and Auden says it is play. In Work, Labor, and Play by W.H. Auden, “When we play a game, we enjoy what we are doing, otherwise we should not play it, but it is a purely private activity; society could not care less whether we play it or not.” One can determine which type of person one is by how they leisure. If one is a worker they take time of to recuperate from their job so they can come back and do that job better. A man who is a laborer is a man who looks at leisure as being freed from slavery. A laborer tries to take as much time of as possible, where a man who is a worker things of time of as a hassle. A worker takes as little time off as possible.


Technology can be good and it can be the worst thing to a man’s soul. It will in the future, as prophesized by Auden, make most of the world into a laborer. Auden in the subject of technology and the division of labor says that , “By eliminating in many fields the need for special strengths or skill; they have made a very large number of paid occupations which formerly were enjoyable work into boring labor, and by increasing productivity they have reduced the number of necessary laboring hours.” Auden says that this will cause the population to have more leisure time. This will make the leisure time unmeaning full because of the mass amounts of it the laborer they will have. This will make the population unhappy like in the old days. In the old days free time was spent doing things such as, “Shooting grouse,” and there was, “A season to spend in town.” This cannot happen any more because everyone mainly lives in a town and the population of animals has dwindled. Auden says that the result of this will cause people to turn to fashion, causing fashion to change ever rapidly. Also, because of the animal population dieing, the people will turn to, “Dangerous driving, drug-taking, and senseless acts of violence.” None of this will affect the worker because the worker will take his aggression out in their job. The worker is found to be relatively not violent but turns the aggression into a positive thing.


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The main things that Auden is telling us here is do not get trapped into a world where you do not like your job. If you do get caught in it you will not like it. Strive to make a job into work and do not do what society tells you to do but what you want to do. Auden deciphers what work, labor, and play are to warn us about life.


W.H. AUDEN


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