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I Quit

16 April 2001
All change, please. James has reached the end of the line.

Standing there, crushed from all sides, two-thirds of the way down the bus, hanging on by one finger from the ceiling pole, you wish that you had thought to go before you started the journey home. The stop-start peristalsis of the heavy downtown traffic only serves to constantly remind you of your uncomfortable predicament, denying you the luxury of putting your mind elsewhere. You're sure you can actually feel the gradual increase of internal pressure, but suspect that it is just an illusion created by a vindictive subconscious. You shift from one leg to the other, but know that that is a fairly futile attempt to relieve your discomfort. Only one, but in your current location, unthinkable, action could possibly end your torment. There is just no escaping the fact that you're stuck on a bus, really needing a shit.

Only two more stops to go now. You consciously clench your anus to ensure that any sneaky sudden farts don't take you and your fellow passengers by surprise. While you do so, you stare resolutely downward and steal a glance at your watch, instantly forgetting the time. You realise that's good, though, because it gives you the excuse of looking again in a few minutes, giving you a small window of relief before the inevitable pressure returns again. Another added bonus is that it means you can better avoid eye-contact with your fellow commuters - the strain just might be showing on your face. A bead of tickly sweat runs slowly down your neck, even though it is neither hot nor humid where you are.

There finally. Not quite running, for the sake of appearances, round the corner and across the road, you walk stiff-legged through your door. Jacket off and chucked on the sofa, through the lighter door, pants down and seated. At last. The release is sudden, and good enough to give you goose-bumps on your thighs. Finished, and you are pleased to discover that it's one of those that requires minimal wiping. Also, a solid sinker, so that there is little chance of embarrassing residue left for your flatmates. A deep sigh while you look in the mirror, and you consider what to think about and do next. Most of all, you're now very, very happy.

Imagine all that, and you are imagining the kind of joy of release people feel when they voluntarily leave a job.The chances are, that if you see a colleague come back to their desk and sit with just a contented grin on there face, they've just handed in their notice. It could be that they're back from a good dump, but most people get their shit-grinning over with in the cubicle or while washing hands. It would have to be pretty damn good for them still to be smiling when they got back to their desk. But both kinds of joy are based on the same basic feeling of some kind of release. The joy arises from the fact that any release provides an increase in freedom. The properties of this relationship are the topic of this article, and the two concurrent examples given above, of voluntarily quitting a job and of having a good shit, will be developed further to show the intricacies and boundaries of this relationship.

The examples of quitting and shitting have been chosen for this illustration as they are both clear examples of an event through which an individual is released from some sort of boundary to their freedom. The physical need to relieve oneself of inner bodily tension is an innate animal feeling that every person experiences and with which they can easily empathise.Similar feelings are the scratching of itches, sneezing, and sexual climax. It is at least theoretically possible that an individual could have never had an itch, sneezed, quit a job, or had an orgasm, so the absolutely universal practice of faecal release is used here as a metaphor due to its complete inclusivity.

The physical feeling of release can be looked at as the relief of some sort of bodily discomfort. This definition must be examined at a deeper level in order to appreciate the relationship with freedom. What is physical discomfort but the persistence of some body part or bodily function in distracting the attention of the mind? This shows physical discomfort to be similar to any kind of mental or social bind or commitment, the release from which does produce a similar feeling of joy. When the persistent attention demanded by an impatient bowel is released, the mind is then more free to pursue its whim. This is plainly similar to the ending of a social, mental or even, but more indirectly, financial, bind in that after one is released from its chains, the mind has a greater degree of freedom. Is then, the more physical feeling of satisfaction some kind of mental reward for removing a barrier to its freedom to roam?

A positive answer to the above question involves a reliance upon some kind of mind/body duality that can be easily challenged philosophically. A more graceful and intuitive way of explaining why the feeling of release feels good is thus: After a sudden transition from a situation that is somehow restrictive (remember this includes physical discomforts that can be described as mentally restrictive due to the attention they demand) to one that is not, the memory of the restriction is most vivid. As that memory fades, the feeling of joy of release also fades. In other words, the joy of release changes in proportion to a perceived increase in some kind of freedom.

This hypothesis may be taken to give new weight to political argument about the value of freedom. While it is true that the realisation of the relationshipf between freedom and the feeling of release does give personal liberty a new weight by linking it to actual undeniable feelings of joy, I shy away from the responsibility of taking this argument that far. The statement 'Man must be made free because it feels good when you shit' could have political or even revolutionary consequences far beyond the imagination of this humble philosopher. Perhaps as this realisation spreads, humankind may finally realise the equal worth of every person, and treat each one with the respect and kindness they deserve.

Such thoughts and statements are far too rich for a person with my weak stomach for confrontation, and so I leave them to others more brave than myself to make. I will however make one final statement following from my argument, that will help reassure many people who may, perhaps, be weighing up their present vocational situation: Quitting a job is pleasant due to the large load you will drop. Just like a nice big dump.


Previously on upsideclown


Current clown:

18 December 2003. George writes: This List

Most recent ten:

15 December 2003. Jamie writes: Seven Songs
11 December 2003. Dan writes: Spinning Jenny
8 December 2003. Victor writes: Rock Opera
4 December 2003. Matt writes: The Mirrored Spheres of Patagonia
1 December 2003. George writes: Charm
27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
24 November 2003. Jamie writes: El Matador del Amor; Or, the Man who Killed Love
20 November 2003. Dan writes: Rights Management
17 November 2003. Victor writes: Walking on Yellow
13 November 2003. Matt writes: Disintermediation
(And alas we lost Neil, who last wrote Cockfosters)

Also by this clown:

27 November 2003. James writes: On Boxing
16 October 2003. James writes: Jakesy's School of Urban Driving
24 September 2003. James writes: Chapter One
4 September 2003. James writes: The Silicon Soul
14 August 2003. James writes: A Room With 100 Seats
24 July 2003. James writes: English For Beginners
3 July 2003. James writes: Coldplay are crap. Discuss.
9 June 2003. James writes: It Takes All Sorts
22 May 2003. James writes: Lesson 2: Buying his Gran for a tenner
1 May 2003. James writes: Rosencrantz and Leytonstone
10 April 2003. James writes: Character Building
20 March 2003. James writes: So This Is It. What Are We Going To Do About It?
27 February 2003. James writes: Street Level Zero
6 February 2003. James writes: Reference: James Noteworthy
16 January 2003. James writes: Kissing George Clooney for just £99!
26 December 2002. James writes: Hongkong In Four Tableaux
5 December 2002. James writes: We Are Your Idea
14 November 2002. James writes: The Knight Of Spring Fervent
24 October 2002. James writes: Go On, Be Honest
7 October 2002. James writes: Cold Comfort
12 September 2002. James writes: Peas In A Pod
22 August 2002. James writes: Seed Investment
1 August 2002. James writes: We Are QPR
11 July 2002. James writes: The Road to Ossuna
20 June 2002. James writes: Pret A Teleporter
27 May 2002. James writes: A Play On Words
2 May 2002. James writes: Labour Saving Device
8 April 2002. James writes: Beggaring Belief
14 March 2002. James writes: Small Things
18 February 2002. James writes: Drop Dead Letters
24 January 2002. James writes: High-Rise Rhapsody
27 December 2001. James writes: My drift's too hip to resist.
6 December 2001. James writes: My Lord Has No Nose
12 November 2001. James writes: A Job For Life
18 October 2001. James writes: Which is the cleverest animal?
24 September 2001. James writes: Interview With An Automatum
30 August 2001. James writes: Each To Their Own
6 August 2001. James writes: An Escape, In Sonata Form
12 July 2001. James writes: Truckloads Of Goodies
18 June 2001. James writes: There's No Such Thing As A Coincidence
24 May 2001. James writes: It's All True - The Paper Says So
30 April 2001. James writes: A Letter From Prisyn
16 April 2001. James writes: I Quit
15 March 2001. James writes: An Essay In Procrastination
15 February 2001. James writes: Confessions Of An English Sand-Eater
22 January 2001. James writes: The Future And The Pasta
28 December 2000. James writes: Never drink with men in red
4 December 2000. James writes: The Underground
9 November 2000. James writes: Right answer. Wrong answer
16 October 2000. James writes: The March of Proudfoot: Part I
21 September 2000. James writes: You haven't got a chance
28 August 2000. James writes: Bad, man. Wicked
24 July 2000. James writes: I play games with street lamps

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