Monday, August 20, 2012

The Psychosocial Affect of Corporate Employment

Remember this comment:

"Corporate thought is effective, but it is not healthy."

I am an "Artist". I see myself as an Artist. Though I've met too many people calling themself, "Artist" and I'm just not seeing it in their works. In some cases it's like a knock off of Coca-Cola calling itself, "Coke". It just isn't.

True "Art" takes time, patience, skill, even genius. Genius is something I aim for and may very well never attain, and that consideration is up to the reader; but at least I try. You don't throw paint on a canvass, or glue any kind of crap to a car and call it, "Art". That is mistaking "Arts and Crafts" for true "Art". My "Art" consists of metaphor, lexicons, vocabulary, words, punctuation, the "Color of Thought". Yes, I'm mixing mediums but it's to make it more graphic. Visual arts are just so much easier to, visualize.

To create art takes a lot of energy, physical, spiritual, emotional. You may need all you have for it and to have it drained away elsewhere, makes it very difficult to achieve.

I have worked for others for many years, all of my life really. I am and have been a technician and a specialist. I have tried many times in my life to break out of this working for others and have repeatedly failed to make the transition. In the beginning, I first broke out of the retail world, a holdover from my high school years. It seemed like I would never get away from that world. It was when I realized that those who handled the money, never made much of it. It all went to the owners who never actually touched the money.

Now I'm trying to break out of the corporate world. Most recently, a few years ago, I started working every off hour from my "day job" to work on my writing. It was as if I were working two full time jobs. I worked all day (and nights when I was "on call"), all through each week (and weekends when needed), for a large company on their web technologies. Then in my off hours I would work on my writings. Literally I was working almost every minute of the day and night.

I found it difficult, but rewarding; exhausting, but productive. Emotionally, it was quite draining, but charging me up as I was seeing that I was learning, producing and as well, networking. During that period I produced several screenplays and worked with a producer. Then last winter I found the opportunity to put out an anthology of my short stories. I should add that this opportunity came about because of my working on the screenplays. So you never know where your break may come from. When you want to break into something, do everything you can, take every opportunity if possible.

I thought this idea and chance to put out an anthology of short stories was all very productive as I had plenty of past writings, mostly horror stories, sitting around doing literally nothing. I can remember our screenwriting Professor at University telling us how a manuscript or screenplay sitting on a shelf in your closet does no one any good. You have to get it "out there". So I took a break from screenplays and started writing prose again. Mostly, it was editing though as the writing had all been done, some of it, many years ago.

As it turned out, I had too many stories and the book came out at around five hundred words. I decided to split it up into two anthologies. But in the end I decided to put together one anthology ("Anthology of Evil") and use some of what I thought were the most appropriate stories to create a somewhat experimental novel ("Death of Heaven"). I'm very pleased with that book.

I've also put out some free works. Like the twisted little SF Romance, "Simon's Beautiful Thought". And as a public service, a couple of articles on Psychology. One was an article on using Synesthesia as a conduit to study and help schizophrenics.

"Anthology of Evil" is a kind of throw back in Horror in some ways. It's an older style of storytelling, as I see it. A "throwback" I hope, in the best sense of the word. Some people may not like it. But I think if you "get it", it is quite entertaining. As I have sold a few of those stories previously elsewhere, at least some others must have thought so, too.

"Death of Heaven" somehow purged me of many things that I have wanted to say over the years, albeit indirectly. Between the two books, you can see my development as a writer as it progressed over my lifetime, really. But I won't bore you here with any more on that. In whatever my next book will be, I think I will have created a kind of trilogy of my writings from my early years, through my development as a professional writer by way of having been a Technical Writer for years, to more recently becoming a more developed fiction writer.

All through those years from the writing of my second short story ever during my college years in Fiction 101, to up until now, I have been working at one company or another. After I separated from the USAF, I went to college and worked at Tower stores (MTS, Inc., of Tower Posters, Records and Video fame). Then I worked at the University of Washington for seven and a half years. I later started working as a Technical Writer at US West Technologies, at the time, a thirteen state corporation. Then later on I worked various contracts with other corporations, finally landing at a four state Health Insurance Company; first as a Tech Writer and later as a computer specialist and technician in a variety of positions and responsibilities.
Now finally, I'm getting to the point of all this.

When I look back on things my years at the University were incredible. Working everywhere else, was not so incredible. They might have been interesting, sometimes fascinating, highly educational, and financially rewarding. But not so much, artistically or emotionally rewarding.

The mindset that is required to work for a corporation successfully, depending upon how you define it, is in my estimate, a spirit killer. That isn't to say that you cannot enjoy it, or cannot have a great life working for a corporation. What I am saying is that it seems to crush the artistic spirit.

I'm sure there are people who work for corporations who turn out great artistic works. I'm sure there were people in concentration camps during WWII who made art. But for most of us, for me specifically, I found that it is a big drain of my "artisticness".

I have produced what I would like to think are some good works these past few years. People seem to like them anyway, and are entertained by them. Some have not liked some stories I have written, but I wouldn't want everyone to love everything I have written. I fear I might kill myself in the end, were that to be true.

It seems quite obvious to me however that working at a corporation, especially in a position such as front line computer support where you are responsible for software and equipment that makes the company money and is a public "face" of the company, is quite draining of certain aspects of humanity and spirit. More so where you are required to be "on call" (which I have done in one way or another off and on since 1976 supporting nuclear weapons systems). It all feels over time, like the "creative" is being sucked right out of you.

That being said, do I think I haven't been creative these past few years? After all, I've turned out several screenplays and books now. Do I think I've consciously sold lesser quality works to the public? Not at all. Well, maybe; perhaps a littlebit. But what I really think is that the effort it took to turn out these works took an extraordinary amount of energy, discipline and overall effort for me than should have been necessary; or certainly, was desirable.

I have to consider that if I hadn't had to work "two jobs" such as it has been, how much better could my writings have been? Once I no longer have to work two jobs, how much better will my writings become?

Okay, perhaps I sound like I'm whining. After all, haven't others been very successful and yet worked at corporations. Scott Adams for instance, with his brilliant "Dilbert" strips, exemplifying the inanity of corporate life he could only have really appreciated, or perhaps been driven to draw and write by being at a corporation. Still, consider the content of which he wrote. It perfectly exemplifies what I'm talking about.
My point here is this: how much more could I have created, how much better could my work have been, had I not had to work around that other, life draining job? I suspect, much better. So that is what I am striving for, the perfect environment. After all, shouldn't we strive at least in some degree, for perfection?
Now I have laid the groundwork. Now I can make my point here.

My point is not to whine. It is not to seek pity, as I deserve none. That is not what I am saying.
It is to point out what corporate environments do to humans. How it warps us. How it has permeated our lives, our culture, our religions, our spirits. We are at a point in this world, certainly in the United States, where "corporate thought" has saturated our lives. You no longer even have to work for a corporation to be affected by it.
Because it is everywhere, in relationships, society, government, educational institutions, churches; it's literally everywhere. It is insidious and I believe it is overall damaging.
What can we do about it? There is very little we can do about it at this time. It was a long time coming, being born before the Founding Fathers were born and they wrote it into our Constitution. It was almost immediately reinforced over the years until businesses got large enough to take on supporting their own imperishability. I believe that the Founding Father's did what they did to grow our country, to protect it, to make way for a great nation with immense possibilities... for individuals. And that is what has gotten lost. The individuals.

Once companies became corporations, and those corporations became "sentient" in some sense, began to protect themselves, propagate and defend themselves, human beings became secondary.
What we need now is proper education, because there is no other way to combat this that I can see. It is simply too large an issue; too many have been made "soft" and rich though it. And when that becomes the case, there is no stopping it.

Except through revolution, or education.

I believe in uneducated countries, revolution may frequently be the only way. But times are different now. We have instant media that is more powerful than the corporations in many ways. We have more educated masses than ever before. Even the dictators and tyrants who are left on the planet have seen the writing on the wall.

And so, all we need to do is to see that our children are well educated. We need to make education as free as possible for as many as possible. That goes for outside of our country, too. The more we educate the world, the more people will prosper and the more the world prospers, the fewer reasons there are for the disenfranchised and terrorist agendas. Sure there will alwaysbe the few who aren't going to be happy with anything; there will also always be those who are mentally unstable, too.

We used to cry on the internet, before the world wide web that "Information should be free!"

And we were right. Up to a point. Artists should receive compensation for their hard work. Companies too can receive compensation for their efforts. That is capitalism, after all. But companies are not people, corporations are not people. People, are people. And we need never to forget that. We need never to forget, people. And their needs.

If we educate our young, the rest will take care of itself. Keep education free, in every sense, and only good will come of it. Not just free to seek schooling and schools that anyone can enter, but the information that is taught should be freed up; and accurate. No religious restrictions. No governmental restrictions. Surely some things need to be somewhat secret: trade secrets (temporarily) so that companies (and people) can prosper; national secrets so countriescan function, but only up to a point, and the issue of who decides that is not for this article at this time.

We need to teach the young (and everyone), the Truth, as much and as often as possible. We need to give people the best information we have up to that time; updating it as often as we can. This is paramount: free, accurate, updated

Universities are our hope and our future. We need to bring as many as we can to them. Or bring as them to as many as we can as we now have that capability. We need to not burden students with massive debt, just to attain an education that the entire country (and world in the end) will benefit from.

Corporations and corporate thought are not the way of the future. That age has passed and they are now a thing of the past. And we must all, make it so whereever it is not yet so.

Just remember:
"Corporate thought is effective, but it is not healthy."

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