|Portrait of the Artist as a Young Data-Entry Supervisor|
by noteworthy at 7:41 am EDT, Jun 3, 2009
Alain de Botton:
It is hard to have a conversation with a stranger for more than a few minutes before needing to ask, "What do you do?" - for herein lie clues not only to monetary status, but more broadly to one's entire outlook and character.
We may know the sliver of the working world that we ourselves occupy, but the wider picture grows obscure.
Perhaps the most powerful way in which we conspire against ourselves is the simple fact that we have jobs. We are willingly part of a world designed for the convenience of what Shakespeare called “the visible God”: money. When I say we have jobs, I mean that we find in them our home, our sense of being grounded in the world, grounded in a vast social and economic order. It is a spectacularly complex, even breathtaking, order, and it has two enormous and related problems. First, it seems to be largely responsible for the destruction of the natural world. Second, it has the strong tendency to reduce the human beings inhabiting it to two functions, working and consuming. It tends to hollow us out.
Many of us do work that feels more surreal than real.
On the time of Jane Austen:
The sheer amount of sewing done by gentlewomen in those days sometimes takes us moderns aback, but it would probably generally be a mistake to view it either as merely constant joyless toiling, or as young ladies turning out highly embroidered ornamental knicknacks to show off their elegant but meaningless accomplishments. Sewing was something to do (during the long hours at home) that often had great practical utility, and that wasn't greatly mentally taxing, and could be done sitting down while engaging in light conversation, or listening to a novel being read.