*Disclosure: I only review books that I have selected for my own enjoyment, and the views expressed are, therefore, even if a little batty, completely genuine. You need to be aware, though, that this review has an affiliate link, meaning that if you click through to Amazon, via the book’s image, and choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to yourself.
‘Nirvana’, according to my trusty Dictionary (Cassell), is be nothing. Okay, so it actually defines ‘nirvana’ as a ‘state of blessedness received from the extinction of the self’.
I start to feel anxious. I picked up Josh Cohen’s book ‘Not working: Why We Have to Stop’, hoping to have at last found an author to tell me exactly what I want to hear. And what I want to be told, is that I really should give up my day job, and devote myself to sharing my passion for creative writing with the world.
Instead, Cohen introduces I, Jay Cool, to an alien concept – to nirvana, the cancellation of all feelings of pleasure and pain until one reaches a state of nothingness!
I consider the idea and come to this quick and easy conclusion:
I am an I; I am a self, myself; and I do not wish to be a nothing!
But, Cohen, not to be put off by my inflated-bloggerite* ego, isn’t finished with me yet! He devotes a whole chapter to ‘The Burnout’, and tells me about how, after a failed relationship, the burnt-out artist and film-maker Andy Warhol fantasised about ‘becoming a machine’ (Cohen, p.47).
And, all of a sudden Cohen’s got me! I start to think about something my mother said, in relation to my obsession with genealogy and graveyards:
“The memory of a person only lasts until the last person who knew them is dead.”
Perhaps, fed-up with all my TLC being used up by Ancestry.com, my wise-old (young) mother, had been hoping, with this pronouncement to bring me back into the present. Instead, she’s spurred me on to do even more family-tree research, and to dive headlong into the task of speed-dating with the dead, in order to write up my family history and personal memoirs (before, I too, become part of a forgotten history).
But, now, thanks to Cohen (and Warhol), I am beginning to see the light. And this is it, here is the reason why I, Jay Cool, will shortly be giving up work, in order to become a machine:
To be a machine would be to be something, to be kept and immortalised or, at the very least, remembered. Machines, when no longer serviceable, become antiquities, museum pieces, and as such they receive a constant flow of visitors – paying visitors – and, thus, a machine acquires new friends and new loves on a daily and ongoing basis.
To be a machine is to be immortal. And, I Jay Cool, the most egotistical blogger in current existence, like my nemesis (Dorian Gray) am more-than-happy to be told that I can: a) give up work; & b) live for ever!
In the meantime, I will settle quite contentedly for the life of the ‘The Daydreamer’; a person, such as the poet Emily Dickinson, who chooses to withdraw from other-human contact by withdrawing, with pen and paper, into the silent retreat of their own bedroom. Who needs to travel anywhere, questions Cohen, when:
‘To write poetry is to inhabit the house of possibility, to numerous windows opening in all directions onto different vistas.’ (Cohen, p.141)
Like Emily, having engaged wholeheartedly in Cohen’s intelligent and philosophical observations on daydreamers and burnouts, I retreat from you, my readers – I have lots of poems to write, and I’m not yet quite ready to submit myself to the manufacturing processes required to turn my being into a machine.
But please don’t leave me, my other-human friends, as I don’t actually have to meet you face-to-face, please do … keep following on!
P.S. Emily Dickinson would have been made-up by the friends-without-faces world of WordPress, and Facebook and Twitter!
P.P.S. Yes, I know that Cohen also wrote chapters about slobs and slackers (I did actually read the book, and I even read it before I signed up for Amazon Associates!). Also, I am well aware that I didn’t mention any of the S & S stuff in my batty book review; but, on reading the aforesaid chapters, I was immediately bombarded by the stuff of nightmares – a row of pop-up examples, in the form of terrifying avatars – all with close resemblances to my exes! I did, therefore, decide to deal with them in the appropriate Cartesian manner:
I think, therefore I am (i.e. I am thoughtful and considerate). They pop up, therefore I plop them back down!
P.P.P.S. If you really want to read about slobs and slackers, go and buy Cohen’s book and read it for yourself (but, be aware that, if you do so by clicking through to Amazon via the image of the book, I will receive a commission (at no extra cost to your good self)).
The copyright of this review (unfortunately, not of Cohen’s book) belongs to Jay Cool (promoter of her own made-up wordites*), March 2019