Wednesday, March 20, 2013

On Work.

If you have not yet read Mary Roach or any of her books, well then you are unforgivably behind the curve and you shouldn’t even bother because you will never be as cool as those of us who have. That being said, she is a talented writer and her books are the funny/smart/accessible realm, falling somewhere on that spectrum in between Malcolm Gladwell and John Hodgeman.

There are many many snippets of her writing worth being repeated here, but below is a passage in “Packing for Mars” that I quite liked. She is writing here about a conversation she had with a cosmonaut psychologist about a Soviet space mission that had to be cut short because one of the cosmonauts (Zholobov) had some sort of nervous breakdown:

My notes say things like, “self-organization of dynamic structures of interpersonal relationships in human society.” But what he had to say about Volynov and Zholobov was clear and simple. “They were exhausted by overwork. The human organism is built for tension and relaxation, work and sleep. The principle of life is rhythm. Who out of us can work nonstop for seventy-two hours? They made them sick people.”

This passage made me think of the famous quip by the British humorist Jerome K. Jerome: I love work; it fascinated me; I can sit and watch it for hours.


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