The Zen of Labor?

As a follow-up to Bernstein's poem...

Revalorizing the Trades - by Camille Paglia

"Jobs, and the preparation of students for them, should be front and center in the thinking of educators. The idea that college is a contemplative realm of humanistic inquiry, removed from vulgar material needs, is nonsense. The humanities have been gutted by four decades of pretentious postmodernist theory and insular identity politics. They bear little relationship to the liberal arts of broad perspective and profound erudition that I was lucky enough to experience in college in the 1960s.

Having taught in art schools for most of my four decades in the classroom, I am used to having students who work with their hands—ceramicists, weavers, woodworkers, metal smiths, jazz drummers. There is a calm, centered, Zen-like engagement with the physical world in their lives. In contrast, I see glib, cynical, neurotic elite-school graduates roiling everywhere in journalism and the media. They have been ill-served by their trendy, word-centered educations." Read the essay.

Paglia is characteristically blunt & provocative - there's plenty to argue with, but that's the point. And I do like the image of Harvard in a "reciprocal relationship" with a regional trade school. I have to agree with (one of) her basic premise(s) - after my first (failed) attempt at graduate school in philosophy I spent several years learning construction trades and I have been grateful for it ever since.  (Photo by Charles Ebbets, 1932 - here.)


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