Alain de Botton, author of The Architecture of Happiness, has written a new book. Called The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, the book explores the crucial role work plays in the modern world. As a guest on Neal Conan's Talk of the Nation, de Botton suggests that, instead of asking people "what do you do?", we should "what would you like to do?" Though we define others in relation to their professions, their fantasy job may tell us more about them.
De Botton points out high culture's weird aversion to the working world. If a Martian visited an urban bookstore, de Botton muses, he'd likely think human beings spend their time in love, at home, squabbling, occasionally murdering each other and entirely miss the fact that most spend each day at the office, factory, or shop. "We tend to believe that real life isn't in our work," says de Botton. Part of this is because our artists don't work in the way most people do. "We're not finding ourselves in the work of art we're looking at." But de Botton is trying to change that with his beautifully illustrated tribute to the working world.
Listen to de Botton's Talk of the Nation interview here.