Book Excerpt: Evan Sayet Swipes at Springsteen in 'The KinderGarden of Eden'
Comedian Evan Sayet has some serious things to say about liberalism in his new book, "The KinderGarden of Eden: How the Modern Liberal Thinks."
Sayet's book, available now in either paperback or e-book form, includes some pop culture examinations, including how the song "Imagine" by John Lennon became the perfect symbol of liberal thinking as well as the excerpt below taking Bruce Springsteen to task for decrying good, honest work.
THE WORK, THE WORKIN’ JUST THE WORKIN’ LIFE
When Adam and Eve suddenly found themselves evicted from Paradise (just as when the child finally becomes an adult), there were only two things they needed to do that they’d never needed to do before.
Suddenly, deprived of God’s generous welfare, they had to provide for themselves by using their intellect to seek out the better things, and then they had to toil to bring those better things about. Since these are the two things that leaving Paradise required, they are the two things that the Modern Liberal is convinced are keeping him - and the world - from returning to it.
The Modern Liberal is convinced that, if only he could eliminate the need for intellect and toil, then his life and everyone else’s would be just like Eden was for Adam and Eve, and the kindergarten was for him and his friends.
We’ve already discussed – and will soon return to - the Modern Liberal’s antipathy to intelligence; but still to be discussed is his disdain for toil, which is equal in every way. Since the Right-Thinker’s goal in life is to better himself and in turn, the world, having a job offers him the chance to fulfill his purpose. He produces, manufactures and fixes things that fight disease and keep hunger, poverty and physical pain at bay. Having a job – and bettering himself at that job – then, is filled with great and profound rewards for the men and women of God and science.
The Modern Liberal on the other hand, not believing in the existence of the better, can see no upside to toil. To the Modern Liberal, having a job is nothing other than unmitigated hardship. In fact, here’s how Bruce Springsteen - dubbed “the working man’s troubadour” by the folks in the Rhetoric Industries who have the power to dub such things – describes the last Springsteen man to have ever worked for a living, his father Douglas:
Daddy worked his whole life
for nothing but the pain…
With “nothing but the pain” as the wages of toil, things get even worse. Since the Modern Liberal’s purpose in life is to just “be himself” and to do only that which “feels good” to him at any moment, having a job is the one and only thing that constrains him from fulfilling his life’s purpose. This makes having a job not just “hard work,” but nothing less than soul stealing. Thus, despite my extensive knowledge of Springsteen’s thirty-plus-year canon, I am hard pressed to name even a single song from this supposed champion of the working man in which someone with a job isn’t going through a living hell because he had to stop playing long enough to do a day’s work. In one song, “Factory,” Springsteen takes us through a day in the life of a factory worker - this despite the fact that Springsteen has literally never had a job, and thus doesn’t know anything about the life of someone who works in a factory (or anywhere else for that matter.)
Rather, the lyrics suggest what a clever and articulate man/child thinks it might feel like if he were ever to have to stop playing long enough to earn his keep. Springsteen imagines it the way a small child might imagine it: horrific, joyless, colorless and dead, like that moment when the five-year-old’s parent leans out the window and yells: “Playtime’s over. Come in and do your chores.”
Early in the morning, factory whistle blows
Man rises from bed and puts on his clothes
Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light.
It’s the work, the workin’ it’s the working life…
Springsteen’s cleverness is undeniable. His literary canniness is no doubt on display as he calls the song’s protagonist “man,” as in someone so stripped of his personal identity that he doesn’t even have a name. And no one can question Springsteen’s terrific use of imagery when, in the next stanza, he describes “man” walking through the “mansions of fear” and “mansions of pain” that Springsteen suspects people with jobs must walk through daily.
But “clever” words and “terrific” imagery don’t make something true. Is Springsteen right? Is having a job really this horrific? Not according to Mike Rowe – someone who, unlike Springsteen, didn’t just talk about work but actually went out and did some on his hit TV show, "Dirty Jobs."
In fact, Rowe reports that even those who do some of the most difficult and seemingly disagreeable of jobs were “Some of the happiest people I’ve ever met.” In other words Springsteen is – as the Modern Liberal always is - not just wrong; he’s as wrong as wrong can be.
In the last stanza of “Factory,” the work day mercifully comes to an end. Here Springsteen very cleverly changes his tale from the story of “man” to the story of all “men” who work for a living:
End of the day, [the] factory whistle cries
Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes.
Allow me another tip of the hat to Mr. Springsteen’s poetic perspicacity. It is absolutely brilliant that he makes the factory whistle “cry” at this point – the cold, hard steel showing more human emotion than the lifeless zombies with no names and nothing left in them but “death” in their eyes.
So what is it exactly that Springsteen believes stripped these “men” of their identities and left them with less humanity than a piece of cold, hard steel? The singer makes no bones about it. In the final line of the song he tells us. In fact, he says it not once, not twice but six times:
That’s the work, that’s the working, that’s just the working life.
Yes, that’s the work, that’s the working, that’s just the working life.