Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 2009
Genre Non-fiction
Origin US
Publisher Penguin
ISBN-10 1594202230
ISBN-13 978-1594202230
My Copy Hardback
First Read October 15, 2011

Shop Craft as Soulcraft

But viewed from a wider angle, self-reliance is a sad doctrine, arguably a consolation for the collapse of institutions of mutual care. Pensions routinely fail, as do marriages. One bravely writes a living will so as not to be a burden on others. Family bonds give way to social security, which in turn gives way to the individual retirement account. To fill the void that comes with isolation, and give it a positive cast, we posit the ideal of the sovereign self, unencumbered by attachments to others and radically free. This is the consumer self that puts its stamp on the world by buying things, thereby giving an active expression to its preferences.

Quoted on October 19, 2011

[On authority in the modern workplace]
Given our democratic sensibilities, authority cannot present itself straightforwardly, as authority, coming down from a superior, but must be understood as an impersonal thing that emanates vaguely from all of us. So authority becomes smarmy and passive-aggressive, trying to pass itself of as something cooperative and friendly; as volunteerism. It is always pretending to be in your best interest, in everyone's best interest, as rationality itself.

The risk is of being deceived into thinking there is a common good when there is not one. The fast-food worker seems to have the clearest view of this problem. He stakes his manly pride on maintaining his disengagement; on not devoting himself to something that cannot profit him.

Quoted on October 19, 2011

Corollary to such immersion is the development of what we might call a sub-ethical virtue: the user holds himself responsible to external reality, and opens himself to being schooled by it. His will is educated -- both chastened and focused -- so it no longer resembles that of a raging baby who knows only that he wants. Both as a worker and as consumers, technical education seems to contribute to moral education.

Quoted on October 19, 2011

Even if you do go to college, learn a trade in the summers. You're likely to be less damaged, and possibly better paid, as an independent tradesman than a cubicle-dwelling tender of information systems or a low-level 'creative.'

Quoted on October 19, 2011

The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one's failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.

Quoted on October 5, 2011

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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