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The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain…
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The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work (original 2009; edition 2009)

by Alain De Botton (Author)

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1,0992916,062 (3.49)35
We spend most of our waking lives at work - in occupations often chosen by our unthinking sixteen year old selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what it might mean for us. Equally intrigued by work's pleasures and its pains, Alain de Botton heads into the office, the factory, the fishing fleet and the logistics centre, ears and eyes open to the beauty, interest and sheer strangeness of the modern workplace. Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet? Characteristically lucid, witty and inventive, Alain de Botton's 'song for occupations' is a celebration and exploration of an aspect of life which is all too often ignored and yet as central to us as our love lives.… (more)
Member:Poet3
Title:The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work
Authors:Alain De Botton (Author)
Info:Pantheon Books (2009), Edition: First Edition, 336 pages
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The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work by Alain de Botton (2009)

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» See also 35 mentions

English (27)  Dutch (2)  All languages (29)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Ein wunderbares Buch. Ich mag ja Alain de Button seit "StatusAngst" sehr und wenn sich ein Autor wie er der Arbeitswelt annimmt, dann kann nur ein großartiges Resultat dabei herauskommen.
In mit zahlreichen Fotos garnierten Essays, schafft er es z.B. die Faszination der Raumfahrt auf Französisch Guyana und gleichzeitig deren unglaubliche Trostlosigkeit und die Verlorenheit der ESA-Techniker in dieser Weltraum-Expositur der EU, mitten im Südamerikanischen Dschungel, zu schildern.

Bei der Schilderung eines Wirtschaftsprüfungsunternehmens meint er z.B.: "Es fällt schwer, nicht die Aufmerksamkeit zu bewundern, die man hier dem Kleingedruckten widmet. Mit einem Engagement, wie es frühere Gesellschaften höchstens für militärische Abenteuer oder in religiösen Wahnzuständen aufbrachten, macht man sich an numerische Kleinstarbeit. Die Geschichte mag sich um Heldentum und Dramen drehen, doch wagen sich letzten Endes nur wenige hinaus auf hohe See, während die meisten von uns im Hafen bleiben, Hanfseile zählen und Ankerketten entwirren.

Es ist nicht zu übersehen, dass die Wirtschaftsprüfug ihren Vertretern eine bestimmte Weltsicht verleiht. Sie fragen nicht, wie oder warum man ein Buch schreibt, sondern ob man die Steuern für einen Titel über mehrere Jahre oder mit dem Zeitpunkt der Publikation in toto zahlen muss. Sie sind wie Nephrologen, für die man zuallererst eine Niere ist und bleibt."

Nach einem Besuch einer Luftfahrtmesse und eines Flugzeugfriedhofs schließt er mit:
"Unsere Arbeit wird uns zumindest abgelenkt haben, wird die perfekte Seifenblase gewesen sein, auf die wir all unser Trachten nach Perfektion setzten, wird unsere uferlosen Sorgen auf ein paar vergleichsweise überschaubare, erreichbare Ziele gerichtet und uns das Gefühl gegeben haben, etwas geleistet, uns rechtschaffen müde gemacht und etwas zu essen auf den Tisch gebracht zu haben. Und sie hat uns größere Schwierigkeiten erspart." ( )
  chepedaja3527 | Aug 23, 2022 |
Summary: A photo journalistic essay reviewing workplaces in modern england and the nature of work for the modern western world.

Things I liked:

* Good observations of people, maybe cause he's read a lot or met a lot of people: in anycase a lot of his descriptions have me 'yip I've met people like that'.
* Interesting philosophical perspectives: he looks at familiar environments with new/different eyes and manages to bring the reader (me) with him. Certainly got me thinking.
* Bunch of different people and industries. It was just interesting to hear about these different kinds of jobs and the kind of people working in them.

Things I thought could be improved:

* He's an arrogant prat. At least this is how he comes off. Everyone elses lives are so pointless and mundane, but the mighty philosopher sees everyone clearly and has complete perspective. It made it a bit hard to read sometimes.

* It wasn't always clear why he was telling bits of his story (even at the end I'm not sure if I'm completely sure). I think a bit of structure and maybe some mid narrative summaries really could have improved things.

Highlight:

Possibly the guy who invented a new biscuit using psychology rather than bakery. ( )
  benkaboo | Aug 18, 2022 |
In this delightful treatise, de Botton invites us to rethink work, to look at all that surrounds us and how much of it is the product of human thought and build, from the rotors that lie in the furnace to the tuna that travelled around the world to end up as a sandwich in a lunchbox. With humour and insightful observations, de Botton casts a philosopher's eye to all that we don't notice so that we look at the world with fresh, new eyes and a renewed sense of wonder. A wonderful read made easy by the numerous photos that illustrate the words. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Jul 8, 2020 |
Some initial thoughts:

The felicity and clarity of Botton's prose is intoxicating, even as his approach to the topic of work is somewhat scattershot, his subtle wit too often punctuated by maladroit attempts at cleverness, and his distractibility (by pretty women, father figures, etc) and perturbation at times leads him astray.

Botton's selection of details is impeccable, but the frequent photographs and illustrations are never redundant against the text.

While his portraits of various workers seem sincerely empathetic, we mostly are given the author's impressions of how they might view their jobs or lives rather than hearing from the workers directly. While this doesn't purport to be a work of journalism, sometimes de Botton substitutes direct inquiry with speculative musings purely for literary effect. Then again, his focus, while inclusive of workers, has a broader range: that of human desire and human endeavor from a historical and philosophical perspective. This encompasses everything from Aristotelian vs. Protestant conceptions of leisure and industry; pre-modern vs. modern ontologies; subjugation or sublimation of laziness, fear of death, and the libido - just for starters, and all delved in a very accessible manner free from pretension or pedantry.

His observations can be incisive, funny, or expansive, while his admiration, anxiety, or envy all seem readily provoked by the people, situations, and structures he investigates or imagines.

Though they are thematically interdependent, each chapter could function as its own essay. Seen in this manner, his overall conclusion seems less conclusive - his pessimism tempered by contemplation, reverence for skill, and awe of our individual or collective accomplishments as well as our delusions.

Very quotable, engrossing, at times funny, and provocative of thought and conversation... ( )
  augustgarage | Aug 27, 2016 |
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, by Alain de Botton, is a quirky, interesting perspective on work. Written by the man who is head of the Youtube channel 'The School of Life' who has a very interesting philosophy on life, death, love, family, relationships, work, entertainment, taboo, etc - this book does an interesting job of showcasing a few select employments. Filled throughout with numerous pictures, the book details cargo boats, biscuit factories, tuna fishers, electric and conduit workers, accountants, entrepreneurs, a man who specializes in work therapy/work reassignment, a satellite launch, and aviation. Through the lens of these various fields de Botton describes and details his philosophy on work, on humans, and the way we live, and our infinite struggle with work and death. ( )
  BenKline | Aug 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
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House-building, measuring, sawing the boards,
Blacksmithing, glass-blowing, nail-making, coopering, tin-roofing, shingle-dressing,
Ship-joining, dock-building, fish-curing, flagging of sidewalks by flaggers,
The pump, the pile-driver, the great derrick, the coal-kiln and brick-kiln,
Coal mines and all that is down there, the lamps in the darkness, echoes, songs, what meditations...

-- from Walt Whitman, "A Song for Occupations"
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for Samuel
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Imagine a journey across on the of the great cities of the modern world.
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Nevertheless, it was in a worrying state. Much of its exposed piping was rusting in the sea air, and a large cloth had been used to bandage up the base of a cooling tower. It seemed a particular folly that the English had been allowed to involve themselves with fission technology, for what people could be less appropriate to toil in this precise and rule-bound industry, given their instinctive distrust of authority, their love of irony and their aversion to bureaucratic procedure. It was evident that the field should more wisely have been left entirely in the hands of the Teutonic races.
Now I began to see the matter differently: it seemed obvious that no order, however lucrative, would actually render these women available to buyers, so their presence on the stands took on a more poignant and commercially effective dimension. Their real function was to serve as a reminder of the unavailability of beauty to an overwhelmingly male, middle-aged and harried-looking base of customers. The women were goading the men to lay aside all romantic ambitions and to focus instead on their business and technological agendas. Rather than seductresses, they were in truth spurs to sublimation, and symbols of everything that the buyers would be better off if they forgot about in order to concentrate on the thousands of pieces of precisely engineered equipment arranged around the halls.
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We spend most of our waking lives at work - in occupations often chosen by our unthinking sixteen year old selves. And yet we rarely ask ourselves how we got there or what it might mean for us. Equally intrigued by work's pleasures and its pains, Alain de Botton heads into the office, the factory, the fishing fleet and the logistics centre, ears and eyes open to the beauty, interest and sheer strangeness of the modern workplace. Why do we do it? What makes it pleasurable? What is its meaning? And why do we daily exhaust not only ourselves but also the planet? Characteristically lucid, witty and inventive, Alain de Botton's 'song for occupations' is a celebration and exploration of an aspect of life which is all too often ignored and yet as central to us as our love lives.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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