Hello friends, and welcome to July’s Snakes & Ladders check-in! There will probably be another of these in August before resumption of regular service in September. Onward:
You should read Jim Forest on Jordanes the Lion and his saints.
I wrote about a little thought-experiment I derived from Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game.
I continue to take photos and post them here.
Ted Gioia tells us about the most musical man in the world.
I’m very belatedly discovering this wonderful essay by Mike Rose about the acute intelligence required to do blue-collar jobs well:
In manipulating material, the worker becomes attuned to aspects of the environment, a training or disciplining of perception that both enhances knowledge and informs perception. Carpenters have an eye for length, line, and angle; mechanics troubleshoot by listening; hair stylists are attuned to shape, texture, and motion. Sensory data merge with concept, as when an auto mechanic relies on sound, vibration, and even smell to understand what cannot be observed. […]
Much of physical work is social and interactive. Movers determining how to get an electric range down a flight of stairs require coordination, negotiation, planning, and the establishing of incremental goals. Words, gestures, and sometimes a quick pencil sketch are involved, if only to get the rhythm right. How important it is, then, to consider the social and communicative dimension of physical work, for it provides the medium for so much of work’s intelligence. […]
As Merchant and I sit at the picnic table, surrounded by six-packs and T-shirts for sale, he talks about the dignity of work, how it stems from the inherent human dignity of the one who’s working. This concept echoes something Pope John Paul II wrote in his 1981 encyclical on work, Laborem exercens: “human work has an ethical value of its own, which clearly and directly remains linked to the fact that the one who carries it out is a person, a conscious and free subject.” We need to acknowledge this value, in others and ourselves, if we’re going to keep the desire for productivity from turning demonic. A quarterly profit goal isn’t worth as much as the person who labors, at the cost of her health, to meet it. No reputation for customer satisfaction is worth as much as the person who fills orders and endures complaints. Your pride in a job well done, or your anxiety, or your ego: none of those is worth as much as your dignity as a person.
A happy July to you all!