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So have YOU been productive?

Wednesday 26 November 2003, by Arthur Lutz

Last month, as I was towards the end of a relatively stressful period of time, I decided to leave town and go to the countryside for a while. Doesn’t this make sense? It’s even rather banal. Well... In the beloved society we live in, facts seem to indicate the contrary.

This affirmation comes from observations of people around me as I told them about my intentions, that I wanted to go to the countryside on my own for a period of a month. At first I was hesitating between this and traveling for a while to places like Eastern Europe. I talked about these intensions to a number of people, and got unexpected reactions.

"Man, you’re going to get bored!", "Just shoot yourself here in Paris, no need to go to the countryside", "On your own?", "Are you going religious?", "Why would you do that?", "So that’s what you finally chose, instead of traveling? Just because you don’t have a passport?" (as of matter of fact I didn’t have a passport at the time, I can tell you it was expired -in case the French police is looking for some stinking foreigners to kick out and ended up here). The more people were considering this as a "freak" idea, the more it attracted me. I have a pure childish contradiction complex.

After a few of these remarks I realized that I needed to justify myself, for doing such a "weird" thing. Obviously I could just say, explain or tell, but I use the term justify in an abrupt manner to emphasize my point. People reacted differently when I told them about the many ideas and projects I wanted to do. But the fact that I had to justify myself got me thinking.

As the month spent alone was reaching its end, people asked me: "So have you been productive?" The use of the word "productive" stuck to me... it contains the word "product" doesn’t it? For some "productive" was used as a way for asking me if I was happy about things I had done. But if I had, it was not as products. Even people who were critical about productivist values slipped into the comfort of using that term. Part of it is because I went there telling people I wanted to do all the things I didn’t really have the time to do during the busy year.

It would seem that I’m overreacting and twisting things my way, but I believe that someone once thought this evolution up and crime pays. I believe we are shaped every day to think and express ourselves in those very well chosen terms.

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