The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (Vintage International)
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We spend most of our waking lives at work—in occupations most often chosen by our inexperienced younger selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what our jobs mean to us.
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work is an exploration of the joys and perils of the modern workplace, beautifully exploring what other people wake up to do each day—and night—to make our frenzied world function. With a philosophical eye and his signature combination of wit and wisdom, Alain de Botton leads us on a journey around an eclectic range of occupations, from rocket scientist to biscuit manufacturer, from accountant to artist—in search of what makes jobs either soul-destroying or fulfilling.
focus to envy. Symons was a particular admirer of this feeling, and lamented the way that its useful role in alerting us to our possibilities was too often censored out of priggish moralism. Without envy, there could be no recognition of one’s desires. So Symons gave Carol another ten-minute slot to list everyone she most regularly envied – adding on his way out of the room that he didn’t care for niceness and that if there were not at least two names of close colleagues or friends on her piece
undaunted by his fortunes. He has recently visited a village north of Colchester to look at a tributary of the River Colne. He wants his next project to be about water. He plans to set up his base on a jetty where he will, over a number of years, paint the river in a range of its moods and lights. ‘Have you ever noticed water?’ he asks. ‘Properly noticed it, I mean – as if you had never seen it before?’ 1. At the wedding reception of my wife’s youngest cousin, I fell into conversation
There are, admittedly, few historical precedents for Axtell’s job title or her professional lexicon (‘client relating’, ‘personal branding’) – a scarcity which may lead one to judge her as an unnecessary sickness. But this would be to misconstrue the sheer distinctiveness of the contemporary office, a factory of ideas dependent upon the ability of tens of thousands of employees to communicate properly amongst themselves in order to fulfil the needs of intemperate and exacting clients and so, by
me, paraphrasing his company’s slogan. He then pulled out from his suit pocket a sheet of yellowing newsprint torn from the Tehran Times, which featured a report on a successful test of his equipment conducted on a jeep at an army base in Mianeh – as well as, at the bottom of the page, an unrelated item about a strong finish by a member of the Iranian national ski team, Hossein Saveh-Shemshaki, at a slalom event in Turkey. Shorabi expressed regret that export constraints had prevented him from
offered me a choice of a deluxe room overlooking the swimming pool or a cheaper, regular room over the car park, adding that I might prefer the latter – on account of the train. There was no time for elaboration before, with melodramatic suddenness, a roar presently engulfed the hotel, negating all possibility of speech for the next four minutes. The sound reverberated around the valley, echoing off the cliff faces of the Tehachapi Mountains and making manifest the vastness of the sandy bowl in