Shopwork in a World of Cubicles

wrenchFound a great article called “The Case for Working with Your Hands” from the NYT magazine (Photo by Alec Soth for Magnum Photos).  The author, Matthew Crawford, attained a PhD in political philosophy from the University of Chicago and went to work at a K Street thinktank in DC before leaving it to run his own motorcycle repair shop.  The piece has much to commend it, including this suggestion:

“There is good reason to suppose that responsibility has to be installed in the foundation of your mental equipment — at the level of perception and habit. There is an ethic of paying attention that develops in the trades through hard experience. It inflects your perception of the world and your habitual responses to it. This is due to the immediate feedback you get from material objects and to the fact that the work is typically situated in face-to-face interactions between tradesman and customer.”

The whole thing is worth reading, as it provides opportunity to reflect on the modern, office-based economy and how such an environment shapes us.  I recall having to work outside as a child in Maine blueberry season.  I learned the value of hard work in a way that only a manual trade can teach you.

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