Uddrag fra Bullshit Jobs: The pleasure at being the cause

03.04.2023 | antropologi

Jeg er stadig ved at læse Bullshit Jobs af David Graeber - godt for mig. Så flere uddrag til dig? Godt for dig. I 1901 opdagede den tyske psykolog Karl Groos at børn (og mennesker generelt) besidder noget han kalder "The pleasure at being the cause". Altså (efter 2min bluetooth-overførsel og en tur gennem tesseract - thank you, random terminal apps for Ubuntu):

As early as 1901, the German psychologist Karl Groos discovered that infants express extraordinary happiness when they first figure out they can cause predictable effects in the world, pretty much regardless of what that effect is or whether it could be construed as having any benefit to them. Let’s say they discover that they can move a pencil by randomly moving their arms. Then they realize they can achieve the same effect by moving in the same pattern again. Expressions of utter joy ensue. Groos coined the phrase “the pleasure at being the cause" suggesting that it is the basis for play, which he saw as the exercise of powers simply for the sake of exercising them. This discovery has powerful implications for understanding human motivation more generally. Before Groos, most Western political philosophers - and after them, economists and social scientists - had been inclined either to assume that humans seek power simply because of an inherent desire for conquest and domination, or else for a purely practical desire to guarantee access to the sources of physical gratification, safety, or reproductive success. Groos’s findings - which have since been confirmed by a century of experimental evidence - suggested maybe there was something much simpler behind what Nietzsche called the "will to power"? Children come to understand that they exist, that they are discrete entities separate from the world around them, largely by coming to understand that "they" are the thing which just caused something to happen - the proof of which is the fact that they can make it happen again. Crucially, too, this realization is, from the very beginning, marked with a species of delight that remains the fundamental background of all subsequent human experience. It is hard perhaps to think of our sense of self as grounded in action because when we are truly engrossed in doing something - especially something we know how to do very well, from running a race to solving a complicated logical problem - we tend to forget that we exist. But even as we dissolve into what we do, the foundational "pleasure at being the cause" remains, as it were, the unstated ground of our being. Groos himself was primarily interested in asking why humans play games, and why they become so passionate and excited over the outcome even when they know it makes no difference who wins or loses outside the confines of the game itself. He saw the creation of imaginary worlds as simply an extension of his core principle. This might be so. But what were concerned with here, unfortunately, is less with the implications for healthy development and more with what happens when something goes terribly wrong. In fact, experiments have also shown that if one first allows a child to discover and experience the delight in being able to cause a certain effect, and then suddenly denies it to them, the results are dramatic: first rage, refusal to engage, and then a kind of catatonic folding in on oneself and withdrawing from the world entirely. Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Francis Broucek called this the "trauma of failed influence" and suspected that such traumatic experiences might lie behind many mental health issues later in life. If this is so, then it begins to give us a sense of why being trapped in a job where one is treated as if one were usefully employed, and has to play along with the pretense that one is usefully employed, but at the same time, is keenly aware one is not usefully employed, would have devastating effects. It’s not just an assault on the person's sense of self-importance but also a direct attack on the very foundations of the sense that one even is a self. A human being unable to have a meaningful impact on the world ceases to exist.

Afsnittet handler om, som det måske kan antydes ud fra slutningen, at lade som om man arbejder og er fuldt ud engageret i det, selvom der ikke er en skid at lave. Eller at man bliver sat til at lave noget meningsløst blot for at man ser ud som om man arbejder.

Anyway. Jeg er ret vild med ideen om at man eksisterer fordi man har en effekt på verden omkring én. At man eksisterer fordi ens handlinger skaber kausalitet. Du tænker sikkert Descartes "jeg tænker, derfor er jeg". Men altså ikke her. Den sidste del om fordybelse er også smuk: at vi glemmer vi eksisterer når vi bliver opslugte. Det lyder lidt som en Brinkmann-kur. Vores fantasi er så en videreudvikling af det her princip. Ideen om at vi feks. kan skrive skønlitteratur eller digte. Eller at vi kan lave rollespil, spille Risk eller den slags. Smukke, smukke menneskelige kognition. Den tyske filosof Freidrich Schiller har åbenbart bygget endnu videre på ideen:

Freedom is our ability to make things up just for the sake of being able to do so.

Vi eksisterer på et maksimum og er frie når vi bruger vores fantasi. Omvendt eksisterer vi på et minimum og er slaver når vi bliver dikteret hvad vi skal bruge vores fantasi på. Feks. hvis man bliver sat til at holde øje med et tomt lokale på et museum hvor der ikke kommer nogen. Og samtidig får at vide at man skal se ud som om man laver noget, at man ikke må læse i en bog eller spille minestryger eller lægge sig ned og sove og drømme om at skrive digte.

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