Half the people I know don’t have real jobs, or don’t have real jobs most of the time. Maybe it’s even more than half, as most of the people I know are writers, journalists, readers, artists, that sort of folk. I have been fortunate to have a real job reading scripts, but how much longer it will last, I have begun to doubt.
It’s been hard on me.
But last week I came across a nice story in the LAWeekly about a folk singer named Peter Case. Case has been living as a freelancer–mostly on the road–his whole life. He has a book out, numerous records, and he’s moderately famous. (You can hear a full sample of the wonderful Zero Hour from his Plimsouls garage band era on MySpace, but he’s a Mississippi John Hurt-influenced folkie these days, and a good one: check out his guitar playing on "When the Catfish is in Bloom" on iTunes.)
He has a way to describe living the expressive life without a real job: he calls it "The Precarity."
There’s a new word for the freelance life now — it’s called precarity. And what it refers to is that people who are freelance, they can’t tell if they’re working 24/7, or if they’re unemployed. What we’re up against now is an era where everybody’s time is completely dominated, and everybody’s working for free.
There’s a lot more to the piece. Take a look at the interview by Dave Schulman. Here’s Peter Case:
3 thoughts on “The Precarity”
You can add me to your list. When the economy crashed in San Francisco in 2001 (dot-com money pullout and international tourism being the double whammy), I tried to get a job and found that it was impossible. I’d been a freelancer for 30 years and nobody in their right mind would hire somebody who had been independent that long.
Still, I don’t regret a moment of the “precarity” life because it’s given me that most precious of commodities, time of my own. And as we enter really vicious late-stage capitalism, I’m starting to seriously worry about all the poor folks who have felt some kind of security but who are being thrown into a “precarity” world without any of our survival-oriented resources.
When things are really lean, figure out what people will pay you for, have no pride except in doing a decent job, and not only learn from the experience but try to enjoy it.
Thank you, Mike.