24 July 2014

from Lawrence, SATURDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Vacations or Holidays

Dear Friends,

For our last meeting for this season we are discussing: Vacations or

Apart from our instinct to subconsciously think we've had our holidays
or we are still waiting for our holiday, the topic is an apt one because
it affects all of us whether we work or not. The question I address in
my few paragraphs is: what is a holiday really? We think of holidays as
a rest but are they a rest because we escape for our routine or are they
a rest because they are a change?

In the meantime Ruel has sent the link to his essay:

Hello Lawrence,
I wrote a not-so-philosophical and very shallow essay on Saturday's
PhiloMadrid topic. Here is the link:

See you on Saturday.


Finally, as you know our last meeting is this Saturday until we start
again on Saturday in September. We usually meet in August for drinks on
Sunday at the Cafe Commercial approx 7:30pm, so please let me know if
you want me to send out an email to this effect in August.

--- Lawrence


For our purposes vacations also means holidays which is the standard
term in UK English. This is the activity we perform twice or even three
times a year when we stop our routine to relax and do things we usually
do not have time or money to do during the rest of the year. In many
case, this means going away somewhere else in the country for a few days
or even abroad for weeks.

Most of all, we usually associate holidays with time off work; even
though those who do not need to work or have retired from work still
have holidays. But also many people throughout the world do not have
holidays because they work under oppressive conditions or because they
do not have money to go away for a few days or simply because they do
not have work at all. Indeed a large portion of the world's population
is engaged in agricultural labour which means that they are tied to the
land and probably do not have the opportunity to just leave their land
or animals.

Holidays are also our means to rest, especially from our daily routine.
In fact today we know that we need to rest from work to be at our best.
For example, we know that there is an ideal limit to the number of
slides we should included in that modern work tool the presentation. And
that concentration, during a presentation and even a meeting, tends to
take a U shape: a high peak at the beginning, a low and then another
high peak at the end. We have also invented the coffee break in the
morning and the afternoon tea break as other examples of our need to
have a rest between activities.

Rest is a well established practice in biology; we rest to recover our
composition, say after an exercise, to digest, to let the biology of our
body to go through its process hence sleep and napping. But this
stop-start rhythm of our biological make up is incompatible with the
continuous production line of modern industrial work practices. The
biological rhythm is slow and reaches a state of equilibrium at the
point our biological system is fed enough energy to arrive to a balanced
state; our ancestors hunted an animal to eat it and once they killed the
animal they stopped hunting and ate the animal.

The introduction of machinery, however, meant that production does not
cease at the point of biological equilibrium but, of course, they keep
on producing. Except that machines do not need to rest, although they
still need servicing and maintenance and still break down, but people do
need rest. Hence, the need and introduction of shift work! The
production model we have today, and even inherited historically,
functions on the principle of producing artefacts at the shortest
possible time. Hunting and up to an extent, agriculture, depended on the
chase and this limited reach of any weapons. But today we have replaced
with biological equilibrium to balanced bank accounts and then a surplus.

Thus work that requires us to perform beyond our natural rhythm requires
that we adapt to the new environmental conditions. Hence, training,
acquisition of knowledge and of course health care we need to be able to
work in our work environment today. Work models based on slavery or
sweat shop conditions do away with this adaptive period and just use a
large number of workers to achieve lower quality products than a trained
labour force. Thus some human beings have been turned into disposable
labour units like disposable nappies. And disposable workers do not need
vacations or holidays.

Indeed, holidays themselves are an integral part of the economy today.
Dozens of countries survive on the tourist industry, marketing of
holidays is big business and of course transporting tourist is the
mainstay of the aviation industry. In a way, therefore, our vacation or
our holiday is probably someone else's day at the office.

Thus, the idea of taking a holiday to get away from it all might not be
an accurate description of what holidays are. It is unlikely that we
would be given time off for free, despite the appearance of have a right
to a holiday. Maybe, holidays are a not an escape since we they still
require hard work, checking in at airports, valid credit cards, booking
into hotels, limited facilities if we move to other towns and cities for
the holiday period and for the adventurous, grappling with foreign
languages. In retrospect, maybe a holiday is not an escape but a change,
and a change is as good as a rest. But is a change as good as a rest?

Best Lawrence

tel: 606081813
philomadrid@gmail.com <mailto:philomadrid@gmail.com>
Blog: http://philomadrid.blogspot.com.es/
PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao
Open Tertulia in English every Thursday from 19:30 to 21h at
Irish Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

from Lawrence, SATURDAY PhiloMadrid meeting: Vacations or Holidays

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