In Eros and Civilization, Herbert Marcuse quotes Barbara Lantos, "Play is an aim in itself, work is the agent of self-preservation." He concludes from this that, "it is the purpose and not the content which marks an activity as play or work.... For example, if work were accompanied by a reactivation of pregenital polymorphous eroticism, it would tend to become gratifying in itself without losing its work conent."
The key to such a libidinal work relation, according to Roheim (cited by Marcuse) is a "general maternal attitude as the dominant trend of a culture." "Consequently," Marcuse explains, "it is considered as a feature of primitive societies rather than as a possibility of mature civilization. Margaret Mead's interpretation of the Arapesh culture is enteirly focused on this attitude:
To the Arapesh, the world is a garden that must be tilled, not for one’s self, not in pride and boasting, not for hoarding and usury, but that the yams and the dogs and the pigs and most of all the children may grow. From this whole attitude flow many of the other Arapesh traits, the lack of conflict between the old and the young, the lack of any expectation of jealousy or envy, the emphasis upon co-operation.Sandwichman conjectures that -- contrary to the assumption of the psychoanaltic literature (according to Marcuse) -- Mead's account of the Arapesh is a feature of her mature civilization. Whether or not it actually depicts Arapesh culture is a matter of luck, personality (Mead's) and perception. In other words, not only is there a possibility, but the general maternal attitude toward the world-as-a-garden is a persistent utopian motif in modern civilization. The pregenital polymorphous eroticism is all around us already. We just have to tune in to it.