Artistic Aspirations, Capitalist Realism & Bullsh*t Jobs: F*ck You, Pay Me

Updated: 3 days ago

I’m trying to get rich. It’s one of those things that is both cliché and inappropriate to say, but it’s true. Like most of us, I’m not a little white girl whose family owns the patent to bleach, I actually have to get it. I'm 22 and broke, if you're like me, we have to go after it, personally and individually, we have to get it out of the literal mud. There’s not an ounce of exaggeration in anything I’m saying. I’ll save you the broke black guy backstory for now, but I’m really trying to get it. It feels like the only artists that are allowed to say they’re trying to get rich are rappers. My aims aren’t exclusively materialistic, but those materialistic aims still exist. I still live inside capitalism, everyone has to eat. There’s a lot of Marxist talk going around lately, but every single Marxist has to pay their bills on the first of the month. Most of us don’t have the wealth necessary to live comfortably indefinitely and theorize an impossible revolution. None of us even have enough money to attempt to plan a real revolution. So while I live here, I’ll try to succeed here.


Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? is a book by Mark Fisher. The book is heavy but a concept discussed in it is that there's no alternative to capitalism, that, as Fredric Jameson put it, it's easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Other systems might be preferable to capitalism, but capitalism is the only one that is realistic. Or it can be seen as an attitude of resignation and fatalism in the face of this—a sense that all we can do is accommodate ourselves to the dominance of capitalism, and limit our hopes to containing its worst excesses.


Fisher saw capitalism as capable of swallowing every critical force and then recuperating it into the agenda. Movies depicting the real effects of late stage capitalism and climate change like Wall-E go on to gross billions of dollars and find their way into the market. Climate change and the threat of resource-depletion are not being repressed so much as incorporated into advertising and marketing. Fisher believed capitalism was entrenched into every decision we make before we even make it because of how heavily ingrained it is into our daily functions, so it's impossible to find an alternative for it, and any critique will ultimately be absorbed back into the status quo.


Capitalism has infiltrated every aspect of our decision making skills, it is virtually impossible to theorize outside of it. It's by no means perfect, because we aren’t perfect. The market works on supply and demand, if the means to produce the demands are harmful and greedy, and the actual supply is also harmful, it means people are harmed and willing to harm. It all goes back to human greed and malevolence. We tend to discuss the system like it's just a machine but it's not. There’s no giant robot named capitalism, there’s just collections of people that continue the status quo. The systems we are born into are collections of people, once people enter certain vocations they occupy the role of purveyor for a job, but it's still a person behind the uniform. We’re all like the Nazi guards just following the orders of the status quo, but to various extremes. Everyone has to act within the culture of their position, which is why we need to develop our individual brains, become autonomous and as self sufficient as possible.


None of us are Che Guevara, get your papers up kids. The road isn’t easy though and the nature of the game has set up industrial traps all over the place to make money off of us. There are so many things put in place just to keep us dumber, uninformed, consuming and working. There is an industrial incentive to make us stupid, to get us imprisoned, to get us hooked on medication, to make us go to war and keep us in debt. In every single one of those categories is a trillion dollar industry, and most of the time, it's not us getting paid. That's why we need the right mindset, the right mission, the right team, the work ethic, the curiosity and the thirst for knowledge, everything else is about time and experience. If we are willing to do something, we’ll learn more about it along the way through constant failure. Failing is learning what doesn’t work.


I don’t want to just get rich. I do want to get off the train, own a house and land, own art, and have the freedom and wealth to do whatever I want and go wherever I please. On top of that I also want to provide great value in other people's lives. I want to tell stories that need to be heard. We want to create and curate world changing art that everyone needs to know about. We’re here to provide truth, fun, taste and excellence, while achieving our goals and artistic dreams.


We’re all products of a system that feeds us false dreams. We’re supposed to go to schools to do jobs we hate, and didn’t want in the first place, to pay debts till our death bed. If you’re in a 9 to 5 and happy, god bless you, you’re doing great. If you went to college and became a doctor, a lawyer or something of value for yourself or the broader world, good for you, I love that for you. If you’re going to school to do something you don’t want to do, are in a 9 to 5 doing something you don’t want to do, or are stuck in a career you don’t want, what are you doing about it? Honestly, what are we doing about it? I don’t care if you are in school to be a doctor, if you are in there despite not wanting to be, I urge you to get out of there. We don’t need any doctors who are just there because their mom made them. Do you actually have a passion for furthering the wellbeing of human beings?


We need people aspiring to be the thing that will give them the best quality of life, by their standards, and help them add value into the lives of the broader community. Are we really okay spending most of our time, for most of our whole lives, being miserable while doing what we are doing, in order to retire at 65? I have worked at various call centers, this is not a knock against anyone that works at a call center, but personally, they ruined my life. I worked at them since I was 14 and they made me a worse human being. I was depressed, anxious and angry at the world.


I would spend eight hours everyday working at a pizza shop, taking calls every second with that fake work accent, on the surface I was the best employee in the company, in the background I was taking 15 minute long breaks just so I could hyperventilate in the bathroom. It was depressing. I would leave at midnight, walk past the waste disposal place by Midland Station, if you live in Toronto you know the one I’m talking about. The train stops there and the whole train smells like rotten eggs. I would walk past there on winter nights, wearing my timbs and my black jansport backpack, my curly afro shielding my face from the snow, my black gloves and shaky hands rubbing together like Birdman, as I walk through the slush, the Midland Station fare collector calling me an idiot, I curse him out and get on the train. It was the worst. I would make barely enough to pay my rent and phone bill, with nothing left over for the month.


Then when I actually started doing what I enjoyed doing, and started to make a living from what I love to do, I found out that I don’t really have to live that way. It's not working that I have a problem with, it's doing a bullshit job that adds no real value to the world around me and just keeps me depressed. Bullshit Jobs: A Theory is a 2018 book by anthropologist David Graeber that argues for the existence and societal harm of meaningless jobs. He contends that over half of societal work is pointless, which becomes psychologically destructive when paired with a work ethic that associates work with self-worth. Graeber describes five types of meaningless jobs, in which workers pretend their role is not as pointless or harmful as they know it to be: flunkies, goons, duct tapers, box tickers, and taskmasters. He argues that the association of labor with virtuous suffering is recent in human history, and proposes universal basic income as a potential solution.


We don’t have universal basic income yet (even though we should), but by doing what I love to do, I found a powerful alternative to bullshit jobs. I can actually enjoy life. Creativity and entrepreneurship are valid career options. I can actually tell stories that need to be told and make a living from it. The only problem is that I’m not well off yet. I still have to work for money, we have to think like corporations and automate certain situations, in a way where money would still be coming in if we don’t work. I want to be able to provide for my family, my community, my city, I want to create art galleries and cultural hubs, films, music and much more with a dedication to dopeness. While doing that, I want to get as rich as I can be and help as many people as I can along the way. I want to help my cousins in Africa, my family and friends, and the broader community at large. I’m working for my unborn kids and their kids, I’m hustling for my last name, not my first.


This isn’t going to be easy, but nothing is. It hasn’t been easy thus far. I had to do all of this by myself so far. We’re expanding and growing. We’ve come a long way, and we still have a long way to go. The fight is for autonomy, self sufficiency, freedom, beauty and truth. Those are the tenants we live by.


There’s a global pandemic going on right now. My condolences to anyone who has lost someone, I hope anyone that is sick gets a speedy recovery and everyone that is healthy should wear a mask, maintain social distancing and keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I don’t want to be part of the excessive grind culture. I definitely think that it's okay for us to rest and our worth isn’t determined by our productivity. But we’ve also been working harder than we’ve ever worked before, during this pandemic, in order to adapt. This is a different world than the world of 10 months ago. We have no choice but to adapt to it, and I don’t know about you, but I’m not going back to anything less than my ideal life.


I believe in us and our abilities, I believe in our dedication to the crafts we practice, I believe our talents are valuable, I believe we can pursue careers doing what we love to do, and I want everyone that supports me to do the same thing. Everything in our lives that's not conducive to our betterment is unnecessary. If it doesn’t make us happy or provide some value, it doesn’t need to be there, we don’t need to do it.


Artists are always told to be about the process, and I’ve stated my love for the process thousands of times. I love being creative, I love consuming creativity, in a wide variety of forms. My artistic aspirations are all about evoking the same emotion I felt when I experienced my favourite pieces. Process is great but we still want to get paid, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Telling artists they shouldn’t make money is how exploitative corporations infiltrate the art market and take advantage of artists. It's the reason why Dave Chappelle didn’t get paid for Chappelle’s Show and Kanye has to fight publicly for his masters, it's a game rigged against creatives.


Make music, make movies, make a podcast, play video games, become an architect, make pottery, blow bubbles, do whatever it is you want to do, pursue it wholeheartedly and do it until you can do it better than anyone who ever did it, attempt to achieve greatness artistically. Financially, understand there are potholes, there are hurdles, there are failures, there is struggle, but the end should justify the means. We get to state the ends. Don’t let anyone tell you what we have to be. We have the internet, figure out what you wanna do, how to do it, then go get it done. Figure out how to get paid, flip the money you make into more money, use your money to set up an infrastructure where you don’t have to constantly work to get an income. Adapt, pivot as necessary, get to the bag and make sure it's to upgrade your quality of life and creative prowess, everything else is goofy. Anybody that entertains beefing, gossip and negativity, where we’re not getting paid, is getting left in 2017.



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