Posts tagged ‘holidays’

Roland Barthes’ ‘The Writer on Holiday’ helped me finally realize my uncomfortable feeling towards holidays my whole life. In an industrial society like Singapore, or actually in most modern societies today, everyone, including students, work in a manner not so different from factory conditions; in that time is money, you clock in and clock out at a fixed time,  and everything is systematic and orderly, everyone having their own role to fulfill (which makes one think of Confucius), and everyone having targets to meet. I am not judging this system in this essay, merely pointing out what it is and why the notion of holidays exist. The time to rest and break away from labour is the time of holidays. This is when the worker is able to abandon his role as a labourer to a holiday-maker, in Barthes’ terms. There is this weird dual identity that a normal person has: who he is at his work, and who he is as a person. It is almost as if someone could forget who or what he was and assume an entirely different status and identity when the holiday comes (which does sound a little schizo, doesn’t it?), but only for a brief moment in time, like a week, before he goes back to his ‘factory’ and assume his position back on the production line. This probably is the method of living for most people today in most cities, whether we like it or not.

Now, as such, I have been fighting this notion since my school days. I have hated the idea of a person having split personalities, and especially one that is temporal and only resumes after every few months. It is an illusion of an identity, and some people might even tell themselves that that is real during the holidays and that their work days are actually an illusion to cope with the tragedy. I have sought to resist the duality, and sought to be a singular entity in which I am the same person during work and during play, and thus no such thing as holidays. Of course this is met with much difficulty, firstly having to find work that you accept as part of your identity, and secondly pleasure that you can define as work. It is not an easy goal, and probably frowned at with most disciplines, especially that of an engineer or professions that are less humane; who wants to be doing that all the time and deriving pleasure from cold boring work? I know some people who clearly want to distinguish work and play, and they deem such an approach as an organized life, and also a dutiful one.

So why my resistance towards this idea of a dual personality? Here I will be making an argument. I believe that split personalities are unsustainable and fake, and only by having one singular identity to see you through life will you be able to realize your true self. I’m not sure how long people can keep up with the split personalities, as I believe sooner or later, the stronger one will swallow the weaker, and having more days at work then at play, it is usually the labourer that prevails, even though the holiday-maker struggles fiercely his entire life. But I refuse to let society define our roles like that, I believe there is another way to live. Everyday should be the same, in the sense that, you do not change no matter what the seasons are. If you are an artist, or a scientist, you do not stop making art or investigating nature whether you are at work or out in the beach during Easter. That identity of yours is so deeply embedded in you in your bones that you can never brush it off with just a mere social thing called a holiday. Only by attaining that sort of identity will we be able to find our own true identities, and not one that is defined by a salary-paying job, or by society, or by people. It should be a role that you would still assume even when no one’s looking. Because it is you.

Because the Muse in you knows there is no such thing as holidays.