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house man ager

Bonjour paresse

Bonjour paresse (Hello Laziness) is the title of an international bestseller by Corinne Maier, a French writer, psychoanalyst, and economist. The book is a highly cynical and humorous critique of contemporary French corporate culture (epitomized for Maier by the middle manager) that advocates various ways of undermining the system. The title is a reference to Françoise Sagan's novel Bonjour Tristesse. It is variously subtitled Jumping Off the Corporate Ladder, or Why Hard Work Doesn’t Pay depending on the edition. Because of their similar attitudes towards the workplace, Maier has been frequently compared to Dilbert creator Scott Adams.

Maier was subjected to a disciplinary hearing on 17 August 2004 by her employer, Électricité de France, for the writing and publication of Bonjour Paresse. The French newspaper Le Monde ran a front page article about the dispute at the end of July 2004 which did much to publicize the work.

Chapter titles and subheadings

As translated by Sophie Hawkes:

  • Introduction: Business Is Not Humanistic
    • Can Disenchantment Solve the Problem of Business?
    • A New Way of Reading Tea Leaves
    • Warning: If You Are an Individualist, Walk On By
  • I. Business Speaks an Incomprehensible No-Man's Language
    • Hello, Gibberish
    • Acronyms: A Thicket, a Wilderness, Nay, a Veritable Labyrinth
    • Foreign Languages: No Pasarán
    • Platitudes Aplenty
  • II. The Dice Are Loaded
    • Money Costs More Than You Think
    • They Tell You to Succeed
    • Power Struggles: Watch Your Back
    • Degrees and Diplomas: Or, How to Make Paper Airplanes
    • Employment and Employability: Knowing How to Brand and Sell Oneself
    • The Defeat of the Word
    • The Planned Obsolescence of the Worker
  • III. The Biggest Rip-offs
    • Mobility: Journey to the End of Your Career
    • Corporate Culture: Culture, My Ass!
    • Ethics, Schmethics
    • The Strategy: The Art of Appearing Smarter Than You Are
    • New Information and Communications Technologies Are the Wave of the Future
  • IV. The Idiots You Rub Shoulders With
    • The Average Manager: Presentable and Preferably Male
    • The Hollow Man(ager)
    • Culture and the Manager: The Marriage of the Carp and the Hare
    • Engineers and Salesmen: A Stalemate
    • The Consultant: It's Always Insulting to Be Taken for a Jerk
    • The Useless, the Submissive, and the Goof-offs
    • People You'll Never See
  • V. Extra, Extra: Big Business is Doomed!
    • Flexibility is Theft
    • Two Modes of Discourse, Zero Brains
    • The Spirit of Capitalism: Where Is It?
    • Meaninglessness as a Newly Discovered Universal Law
    • The New Economy: The Latest Flash in the Pan
    • Globalization: The Worm in the Apple
  • VI. Why There's No Risk in Disengaging Yourself
    • Work: No More Professions
    • No More Authority: Take Advantage of It
    • No More Work: A Godsend
    • The Art of Doing Nothing
  • Conclusion: Begin You Sabotage Tomorrow
    • The Ten Commandments Imposed on the Middle Manager
    • My Ten Counterproposals (see below)

Maier's Ten Counterproposals

Sometimes referred to as the Ten Commandments for the Idle, these counterproposals have been widely reproduced on the Web in a shortened form:

  1. You are a modern day slave. There is no scope for personal fulfilment. You work for your pay-check at the end of the month, full stop.
  2. It's pointless to try to change the system. Opposing it simply makes it stronger.
  3. What you do is pointless. You can be replaced from one day to the next by any cretin sitting next to you. So work as little as possible and spend time (not too much, if you can help it) cultivating your personal network so that you're untouchable when the next restructuring comes around.
  4. You're not judged on merit, but on whether you look and sound the part. Speak lots of leaden jargon: people will suspect you have an inside track
  5. Never accept a position of responsibility for any reason. You'll only have to work harder for what amounts to peanuts.
  6. Make a beeline for the most useless positions, (research, strategy and business development), where it is impossible to assess your 'contribution to the wealth of the firm'. Avoid 'on the ground' operational roles like the plague.
  7. Once you've found one of these plum jobs, never move. It is only the most exposed who get fired.
  8. Learn to identify kindred spirits who, like you, believe the system is absurd through discreet signs (quirks in clothing, peculiar jokes, warm smiles).
  9. Be nice to people on short-term contracts. They are the only people who do any real work.
  10. Tell yourself that the absurd ideology underpinning this corporate bullshit cannot last for ever. It will go the same way as the dialectical materialism of the communist system. The problem is knowing when...

English translations

Bonjour Paresse has been translated by David Watson (as Hello Laziness) for The Orion Publishing Group Ltd in the United Kingdom, and in the United States by Sophie Hawkes (as Bonjour Laziness) for Random House.

References

  • Maier, Corinne (2005). Hello Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay. Trans. David Watson. London: Orion. ISBN 0752871862.
  • Maier, Corinne (2005). Bonjour Laziness: Jumping Off the Corporate Ladder. Trans. Sophie Hawkes. New York: Pantheon. ISBN 0375423737.

External links

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