Barbara Ehrenreich · 248 pages
Rating: (4.2K votes)
“This advice comes as a surprise: job searching is not joblessness; it is a job in itself and should be structured to resemble one, right down to the more regrettable features of employment, like having to follow orders--orders which are in this case self-generated.”
“For all the talk about the need to be a likable "team player," many people work in a fairly cutthroat environment that would seem to be especially challenging to those who possess the recommended traits. Cheerfulness, upbeatness, and compliance: these are the qualities of subordinates -- of servants rather than masters, women (traditionally, anyway) rather than men. After advising his readers to overcome the bitterness and negativity engendered by frequent job loss and to achieve a perpetually sunny outlook, management guru Harvey Mackay notes cryptically that "the nicest, most loyal, and most submissive employees are often the easiest people to fire." Given the turmoil in the corporate world, the prescriptions of niceness ring of lambs-to-the-slaughter.”
“I expected, as I approached the corporate world, to enter a brisk, logical, nonsense-free zone, almost like the military - or a disciplined, up-to-date military anyway - in its focus on concrete results. How else would companies survive fierce competition? But what I encountered was a culture riven with assumptions unrelated to those that underlie the fact- and logic-based worlds of, say science and journalism - a culture addicted to untested habits, paralyzed by conformity, and shot through with magical thinking.”
“In fact the "mask" theme has come up several times in my background reading. Richard Sennett, for example, in "The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism", and Robert Jackall, in "Moral Mazes: The World of Corporate managers", refer repeatedly to the "masks" that corporate functionaries are required to wear, like actors in an ancient Greek drama. According to Jackall, corporate managers stress the need to exercise iron self-control and to mask all emotion and intention behind bland, smiling, and agreeable public faces.
Kimberly seems to have perfected the requisite phoniness and even as I dislike her, my whole aim is to be welcomed into the same corporate culture that she seems to have mastered, meaning that I need to "get in the face" of my revulsion and overcome it. But until I reach that transcendent point, I seem to be stuck in an emotional space left over from my midteen years: I hate you; please love me.”
“the very notion of personality, which is what we are trying to get at here, seems to have very limited application to me and quite possibly to everyone else. Self is another dodgy concept, since I am, when I subject this 'I' to careful inspection, not much more than a flickering of affinities, habits, memories, and predilections that could go either way- towards neediness or independence for example courage or cowardice.”
“The best criticism, and it is uncommon, is of this sort that dissolves considerations of content into those of form.”
“What we have named as anger on the surface is the violent outer response to our own inner powerlessness, a powerlessness connected to such a profound sense of rawness and care that it can find no proper outer body or identity or voice, or way of life to hold it.”
“If we’re starting over,” he says, quietly, “is it too early to say I love you?”
“Sometimes it seems that a person comes into the world with a missing piece. The piece that makes them human just isn’t there.”
“His eyes expressed the difficulty he felt.”
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