I don’t have money, or I’m depressed and can’t write

Existential Machinery


The Context

Marx wrote that power belongs to those who control the means of production. Two centuries ago, he was referring to the physical machinery of the industrial revolution. Which is definitely one form of leverage, but it’s not the only one. If we want to maximize our return on experience, then we need to think about this concept in a diversity of ways. Particularly the small ones. Because not everyone has access to a factory, an automobile, a computer. In which case, the leverage needs to come from something internal, not external, to create a position of power and value. Let’s say you’re an up and coming visual designer, honing your craft, building your brand and making your way in the creative world. One of the ways you can create leverage for yourself is by committing to making art no matter what. Even if you’re simply doing figure drawings on scraps of paper around your studio apartment, that still counts for more than you might realize. Yes, that work may be zero percent successful out in the world, but if it’s one hundred percent successful in giving you meaningful purpose and useful momentum in your inner world, then that’s enough of a win to make the effort worthwhile. You can leverage the hell out of that output, since you own the means of production.

The Tool

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Existential Machinery

EXISTENTIAL MACHINERY — Taking control of the means of production, but also the production of meaning

Let’s say you’re struggling with depression, spending all of your free time sleeping, watching television and binge drinking until you pass out. One of the ways you can create leverage for yourself is the investment of meaning through service to others. That might mean volunteering at a soup kitchen, dog shelter, or attending park cleanup events in your local community. No, doing that work may not cure your depression, but it will export you out of your head and into the lives of others, which will earn you a sense of momentum. That’s a way of controlling the means of production you might not have thought about. What you’re producing in that generous act of service the psychological experience of meaning. By taking care of that individual need first, you can then use that success as leverage to get the bigger things you desire down the road. This strategy really works. One day you’re cleaning up dog poop in the park, the next day you’re not thinking about hanging yourself anymore. And if you think that’s a joke, then you probably haven’t been depressed before.

Scott's Take

Scott's Take

I have another innovative idea for a new service. After all, creative people can't always afford supplies, but they need to make art to work through their mental illness struggles. Gratisfy is an arts charity that gives away free supplies to creatives struggling with depression who need to heal through making things. For those who are still relying on drugs, alcohol or sex to lessen the aching, gnawing angst that haunts their very soul, now they can simply create their way back to health. Let thy art by they medicine. Wouldn’t that be an amazing form of leverage?

The Rest

Bottom line, find a way to control the means of production. What you produce isn’t as important as the process of producing it, and the kind of leverage that makes available to you. How could your pursuit of a small slice of meaning act as a magnet for the other components of happiness you need?

The Benefits

Create a position of power and value when you’re down
Use minor victories to trade up for bigger wins down the road
Successfully give yourself purpose and momentum in your inner world
Use the pursuit of a small slice of meaning as a magnet for the other components of happiness you need

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