The Big Issue : Edition 455
RAZER THEBIGISSUE4–17APR2014 13 PHOTOGRAPHSBYJAMESBRAUND(RAZER)ANDALANATTWOOD(RICKY) WRITE NOW » Helen Razer is a writer, gardener, thinker and frocks-and-hairstyle consultant to the much-maligned Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop. BIN THERE, DONE THAT “I would far rather write words of which I am reasonably proud for a small fee than type a sentence including the non-word ‘solutionising’ for a large one.” OURS IS A deflationary time where the market eats ordinary jobs and replaces them with position descriptions that are hard to understand. Cloud Manager. Data Marketing. Angry Clown with an Axe. I can’t even begin to think what the people who perform these roles do and I find it difficult, with my limited business imagination, to suppose that anyone longs as a child to grow up to “oversee business-to-business solutions for the life-cycle of the project”. But I could be horribly wrong and children of the present may have abandoned all interest in being ninjas and ballet dancers and now long to acquire MBAs and rationalise profits. Having foolishly acquired the trade of journalism and being allergic to environments that are built on made-up words, mine was one of the livelihoods eaten by a market greedy for people who can recite Mission Statements and use words like ‘solutionising’ without wanting to hurt themselves or others for abandoning a perfectly good verb like ‘solve’. This stuff happens, of course, and I don’t feel particularly annoyed in the way a manufacturing professional might. Words are things that people still sometimes need and I can make them anywhere, unlike a Ford factory worker. So I scratch out an independent living as so many people in so many diminishing trades do these days and, mostly, it works out within reason. I am by no means wealthy, but I am by no measure destitute, and I would far rather write words of which I am reasonably proud for a small fee than type a sentence including the non-word ‘solutionising’ for a large one. Things are terrible for a great many people and I am just glad to be able to make my frayed ends meet. Sometimes, though, my credit card creeps into territory so foreign and immense that I panic. And it is then I reassess the fruits of my low-cost labour and I tell myself “you gotta get a real job” – as though there were such a thing in our Solutionised age. Every few years, anxiety drives me to an office and the force of my desperation convinces some manager that I will be a dependable Team Member. It is anxiety at having to defile my mother tongue with the use of made-up verbs that usually drives me out screaming, “I don’t care, I will eat nothing but chick peas for the rest of my life and sleep in a shed rather than endure another day with people who have forgotten how to conjugate the verb ‘to solve!’” About six months ago, I had one of these periodic attacks of low-rent doubt and I happened upon the idea of commencing a PhD. Don’t laugh! The creation of new knowledge is a worthy pursuit and I thought, perhaps, that I could write a PhD about writing itself. My goal here, of course, would have been to show the industrial and cultural evil intrinsic to an act of ruining a perfectly good verb and Solutionising it. A very kind man offered to be my supervisor and his enthusiasm for my reasoned manifesto against made-up business words that drain the world of meaning and colour was sufficient to keep the idea in my head, although not sufficient to actually make me fill out all the forms required to commence a PhD. I mean, you need a PhD to do a PhD when your academic record is as spotty as mine. But, with the help of an adult, I may still one day pursue this strange line of inquiry. I am lucky that the peculiar option of partially funded study is open to me and I am damn lucky that I have picked up enough work to survive while I try to develop the even temper needed to produce a thesis. But such accidental fortune is not always the case. I look at the people with whom I grew up and see how giddy they are from trying to keep up with a world where the hope to do what they were trained to do, such as manufacture, has become a dream as distant as that of professional ninja. As our labour is ‘solutionised’ into jobs that don’t seem to make things, I am grateful for every small and practical task for which there is a buyer.