Caroline Monnot. L'affaire semble donc grave. Corinne Maier, the author of "Bonjour Paresse," a sort of slacker manifesto whose title translates as "Hello Laziness," has become a countercultural heroine almost overnight by encouraging the country's workers to adopt her strategy of "active disengagement" - calculated loafing - to escape the horrors of disinterested endeavor. Maier calls in her slim volume, which is quickly becoming a national best seller. She argues that France's ossified corporate cultural no longer offers rank-and-file employees the prospect of success, so, "Why not spread gangrene through the system from inside?
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Finally, instead of dissembling behind ambiguous notions of Gallic joie de vivre, someone in this leisurely land has declared outright that the French should eschew the Anglo-Saxon work ethic and openly embrace sloth.
Corinne Maier, the author of ''Bonjour Paresse,'' a sort of slacker manifesto whose title translates as ''Hello Laziness,'' has become a countercultural heroine almost overnight by encouraging the country's workers to adopt her strategy of ''active disengagement'' -- calculated loafing -- to escape the horrors of disinterested endeavor. Maier calls in her slim volume, which is quickly becoming a national best seller. She argues that France's ossified corporate cultural no longer offers rank-and-file employees the prospect of success, so, ''Why not spread gangrene through the system from inside?
The book is a counterpoint to efforts by the country's center-right government to repair the damage done to French work habits by decades of Socialist administration, which enacted a hour workweek. It is gaining in popularity just as the International Monetary Fund is urging Europeans to work longer and harder to stiffen their soft economies.
The French already work less than people in most other developed countries -- on average, nearly fewer hours a year than Americans, according to one study.
In many ways, Ms. Maier is typical of France's intelligentsia, overeducated and underemployed. She studied economics and international relations at the country's elite National Foundation of Political Sciences, or Sciences-Po, before earning a doctorate in psychoanalysis.
Sitting in the living room of her Left Bank apartment, decorated with colorful abstract art, huge stereo speakers and a bicycle, Ms. Maier, 40, insists that her polemic, though tongue in cheek, has a principled point. Part of the problem, according to Ms.
Maier, is that French companies are frozen by strict social norms. Workers remain at their jobs until retirement, stymieing the promotion of those below them, she argues, yet a system of patronage and stiff legal protections make it difficult for employers to fire anyone. Years of such stagnation in France's hierarchy-obsessed society have produced elaborate rituals to keep people busy.
Her solution? Rather than keep up what she sees as an exhausting charade, people who dislike what they do should, as she puts it, discreetly disengage. If done correctly -- and her book gives a few tips, such as looking busy by always carrying a stack of files -- few co-workers will notice, and those who do will be too worried about rocking the boat to complain.
Given the difficulty of firing employees, she says, frustrated superiors are more likely to move such subversive workers up than out. Maier's book, subtitled ''The Art and Necessity of Doing the Least Possible in a Corporation,'' is concerned with a more mundane malaise. With chapters titled ''The Morons Who Are Sitting Next To You'' and ''Beautiful Swindles,'' it declares that corporate culture is nothing more than the ''crystallization of the stupidity of a group of people at a given moment.
Her employer of 12 years was not amused. They demanded that she appear for a disciplinary hearing, though the original Aug. That's because Ms. Maier is going on vacation. Maier said. When she received the letter from her employer, she did what any French worker would do: she took it to the company union and asked them to help in her defense.
The union, already engaged in a bitter battle with management over a partial privatization scheme, took the case to the news media, where it received instant and widespread attention. Without the company's maneuver, Ms. Maier's book would probably have quietly gone out of print. She said the reaction of co-workers has been mixed, with some outraged by her thankless attitude. Home Page World U.
Vive La Laziness!
This month, the English translation comes out. But will it appeal to work-crazed New Yorkers? Jada Yuan spoke with Maier. Paris time. Are you still at work? I work two days and a bit more.
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