Monday, March 16, 2009

What Would I Do?

I’m starting to prepare for my spring Environmental Ethics and Sustainability class, so I’ve been reading a bunch of writers on our current and impending environmental crises, and it’s got me all wondering what the hell good I am at anything that’s going to be worth anything in the post-oil apocalypse, what James Kunstler calls the “long emergency.”

As a 21st century community college instructor at a commuter campus in the suburbs, pretty much my entire occupation depends on cheap oil; not to the extent perhaps of being something like a marketing and sales manager of electronics at Costco, but certainly there’s no question that without the automobile infrastructure that currently exists, I wouldn’t really have a job—even though I ride my bike home almost every day.

Come a world where, as the doomsayers predict, many more of us are going to be spending lots more of our time simply procuring food and shelter, there probably won’t be that big a market for philosophy teachers, although maybe, like Socrates, I can just sort of hang around and be annoying.

He, at least, had a trade—although I’m not sure stonecarvers are that much in demand these days, either.

My ancestors were peddlers, I think; (perhaps the source of my affection for pedalers); maybe I could fulfill some similar niche in the Mad Max scenario; maybe I’d be the guy who rides around to small towns bringing spoons and other trinkets for sale.

If I’m going to continue on in the “life of the mind,” my best bet is probably to be a translator; if Kunstler’s right, I should probably bone up on my Chinese and Spanish.

It’s not entirely obvious to me what a scrawny-armed four-eyed little geek like me would have done in pre-industrial times; as weak and myopic as I am, I’d have probably had to be a monk or something to survive; or maybe I could go all Platonic and opt for philosopher-king.


Blogger mork the delayer said...

Along the lines of monkishenss, you could be a brewer or distiller.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Larry Livermore said...

"Four-eyed" is the key: in pre-industrial times, or at least prior to the late medieval/early Renaissance era, there were no eyeglasses and any career which depended on close vision was usually over by the late 20s or early 30s. Of course, given the life expectancy in those days, there was little need for Social Security or 401(k)s, either.

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Rick @ Bicycle Fixation said...

Us foureyes types in old days became bards and poets. Can you sing, or at least rap? (Homer's delivery as described is remarkably similar to old-school rap, and after all the kithara was the ancestor of the similarly-named guitar!)

Being myopic would help you repair small mechanisms. I always say I have a built-in 8x loupe--just take off my glasses! Repairing Ergo shifters would make a fine niche.

2:22 PM  

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