Having had a month’s holiday between completing my work at the Singapore Institute of Technology and starting new work at Western Sydney University, it seems appropriate to launch the blog by wondering what it might be like to be on holiday forever, as seems to be enjoyed the by the citizens of the Culture and like-minded science fiction worlds.
One of the fears of a universal basic income, captured by the speech from one of Philip José Farmer’s characters quoted in Science Fiction and the Economics of Utopia, is that everyone might waste their lives away in parties and indulging frivolous passions—or at least that everyone else might, since I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone worry that they themselves might enjoy themselves into oblivion if given the opportunity to do so.
Speaking for myself, while my holidays do usually involve a fair bit of ice cream and beer on the beach, and not much computer programming, these are not the only things that happen. I almost always travel, and before I get to those ice creams and beers I’ve usually explored the town that I’m in, visited a museum or gallery, hiked a trail, or otherwise experienced the place that I’m in. This might not be so economically productive as computer programming (say), but I still develop my knowledge of the world, and I usually come back with at least a few ideas to be followed up.
I nonetheless find it difficult to imagine continuing this sort of holiday indefinitely. I have to move town every few days in order to find new museums and new beaches; I can get tired of living out of a backpack; and I want to actually complete those projects that popped into my mind while I was relaxing on the beach.
I have sometimes contemplated taking a holiday in which, instead of travelling around, I stay in a single location while I work on a writing or programming project. I haven’t done it because I detest the idea of going somewhere to simply sit in a hotel room all day, and I hate carrying computers around. The adventure I’m embarking on now, though, is something like this holiday, having evaded the hotel room and computer problems by not actually going anywhere.
One of my challenges will be to find the right balance of relaxing and of working on projects, without allowing myself to drift from beer to beer on one hand or forever beating myself up to get some work done on the other hand.