Mount Goodsir, Yoho Park, 1925
J.E.H. MacDonald (Canadian, 1873 - 1932)
Painting, oil on canvas, 107.3 x 122.3 cm
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Max Stern, Dominion Gallery, Montreal, 1979
Hohhot, Mongolia — Airuna sitting at home under a large picture of Gengghis Khan. She is an ethnic Mongolian. ”When I was a girl I spent a lot of time in the countryside with my grandparents. They were herders, and I would spend months on the grasslands grazing the animals.” Recently the government has forbidden animal herding in the part of Inner Mongolia where Airuna grew up in order to leave the land open for mining. Many Mongolians, including her relatives, have lost their livelihood and have found themselves forcefully parted from their millennia old way of life. Inner Mongolia is now overwhelmingly populated by Han Chinese migrants, and the government takes little account of the interests of the indigenous Mongolians. ”I feel like a guest in my own home,” said Airuna.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.”
SIMON: Is there something you’re taking more time for now that…
ROTH: Yeah, naps. Let me tell you about the nap. It’s absolutely fantastic. When I was a kid, my father was always trying to tell me how to be a man. And he said - I was maybe nine - he said, Philip, whenever you take a nap, take your clothes off and put a blanket over you and you’re going to sleep better. Well, as with everything, he was right. And so I now do that and I come back from the swimming pool I go to and I have my lunch and I read the paper and I take this glorious thing called a nap. And then the best part of it is that when you wake up, for the first 15 seconds you have no idea where you are. You’re just alive. That’s all you know and it’s bliss. It’s absolute bliss. So, I suggest - you’re still working but your time will come.
SIMON: That sounds like great advice.
ROTH: And take your clothes off.