From Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society

This claim that we are depressed because we are “tired of becoming ourselves” seems like a rebuke to the “never being, always becoming” school of liberation. But it’s more a rejection of the “self as brand equity” position. It suggests how the capitalist demand to always be productive, or, if you prefer, the neoliberal expectation that we will convert our lives into capital that must always be systematically grown, seizes upon the ideal of self-expression and strips it of its dignity.

The point, perhaps, is that self-expression is not inherently ennobling, it is not automatically a morally approvable end in itself. Self-expression requires contextualizing; under certain conditions it is able to become a rewarding aim. Under other conditions, it’s a crappy, endless job.

The idea that conformity (a “good tiredness” in which one no longer strives for distinction, for metrics) is more rewarding and more subversive than entrepreneurial self-fashioning continues to gain steam. It seems to promise the end of the self as capital, of identity as a perpetual spur to the expression of it in various legible, capturable ways. It seems to promise that you will be able to produce something other than yourself in the world. 


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