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A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...



Posts tagged "work"

Aug 23, 2014
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We hear “do what you love” so often from those few people who it did work for, for whom the stars aligned, and from them it sounds like good advice. They’re successful, aren’t they? If we follow their advice, we’ll be successful, too! […] We rarely hear the advice of the person who did what they loved and stayed poor or was horribly injured for it. Professional gamblers, stuntmen, washed up cartoonists like myself: we don’t give speeches at corporate events. We aren’t paid to go to the World Domination Summit and make people feel bad. We don’t land book deals or speak on Good Morning America.

Aug 05, 2014
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It’s really fun being married to me.

It’s really fun being married to me.

Aug 03, 2014
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How do you sleep at night?

Mad Men, S01E06 [video]

Roy: “So, what do you do, Don?”
Don Draper: “I blow up bridges.”
Midge: “Don’s in advertising.”
Roy: “No way! Madison Avenue? What a gas!”
Midge: “We all have to serve somebody.”
Roy: “Perpetuating the lie. How do you sleep at night?”
Don: “On a bed made of money.”

Simpsons, S06E18 [video]

Jay Sherman: How do you sleep at night?
Rainer Wolfcastle: On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.
Jay Sherman: Just asking.

Jul 15, 2014
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EH!? NO! NO! NO! It is not much to compose 12 or 13 cantatas in one year because if you think about it Bach, for example, used to compose one cantata a week. He had to compose the music in time for it to be performed in church on Sunday so if you just consider Bach, you will see that I’m practically unemployed!

Jun 19, 2014
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I’m just back out here to make enough money to disappear again.

Jun 09, 2014
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I needn’t rush myself, for that does no good — but I must carry on working in calm and serenity, as regularly and concentratedly as possible, as succinctly as possible. I’m concerned with the world only in that I have a certain obligation and duty, as it were — because I’ve walked the earth for 30 years — to leave a certain souvenir in the form of drawings or paintings in gratitude.
— Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh, August 7, 1883

May 14, 2014
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Our job is, we just blow into town, tell everybody to keep going, and we blow on out.
Bruce Springsteen, in a 1984 interview (via)

May 12, 2014
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Stoner by John Williams

This was given to me by Mark at Brazos Bookstore in Houston. I’m not sure why I got all the way through it — I kept thinking while reading it, “What’s so special about this?” — but the story (about a man who becomes an English professor) was so simple and the prose was so clean, before I knew it, I had finished. (I could really see an audiobook version read by Alec Baldwin, Royal Tenenbaums-style.) And afterwards, I kept asking myself why I had liked it (turns out that the book has been an unexpected bestseller in many countries), which is something Tim Kreider sort of touched on in his piece about it for the New Yorker:


  “Stoner” ’s protagonist is an unglamorous, hardworking academic who marries badly, is estranged from his child, drudges away in a dead-end career, dies, and is forgotten: a failure. The book is set not in the city of dreams but back in the dusty heartland. It’s ostensibly an academic novel, a genre historically of interest exclusively to academics. Its values seem old-fashioned, prewar (which may be one reason it’s set a generation before it was written), holding up conscientious slogging as life’s greatest virtue and reward. And its prose, compared to Fitzgerald’s ecstatic art-nouveau lyricism, is austere, restrained, and precise; its polish is the less flashy, more enduring glow of burnished hardwood; its construction is invisibly flawless, like the kind of house they don’t know how to build anymore.


But there really is something about it. I like this passage from an interview with Williams that Julian Barnes brought up in his piece about the novel:


  Though he is allowed small victories towards the end of the novel, they are pyrrhic ones. The pains of lost and thwarted love have tested Stoner’s reserves of stoicism to the full; and you might well conclude that his life must be accounted pretty much a failure. But, if so, you would not have Williams on your side. In one of his rare interviews, he commented of his protagonist: “I think he’s a real hero. A lot of people who have read the novel think that Stoner had such a sad and bad life. I think he had a very good life. He had a better life than most people do, certainly. He was doing what he wanted to do, he had some feeling for what he was doing, he had some sense of the importance of the job he was doing … The important thing in the novel to me is Stoner’s sense of a job … a job in the good and honourable sense of the word. His job gave him a particular kind of identity and made him what he was.”


I’m not going to say I loved it, but I quite liked it. Thanks, Mark!

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Stoner by John Williams

This was given to me by Mark at Brazos Bookstore in Houston. I’m not sure why I got all the way through it — I kept thinking while reading it, “What’s so special about this?” — but the story (about a man who becomes an English professor) was so simple and the prose was so clean, before I knew it, I had finished. (I could really see an audiobook version read by Alec Baldwin, Royal Tenenbaums-style.) And afterwards, I kept asking myself why I had liked it (turns out that the book has been an unexpected bestseller in many countries), which is something Tim Kreider sort of touched on in his piece about it for the New Yorker:

“Stoner” ’s protagonist is an unglamorous, hardworking academic who marries badly, is estranged from his child, drudges away in a dead-end career, dies, and is forgotten: a failure. The book is set not in the city of dreams but back in the dusty heartland. It’s ostensibly an academic novel, a genre historically of interest exclusively to academics. Its values seem old-fashioned, prewar (which may be one reason it’s set a generation before it was written), holding up conscientious slogging as life’s greatest virtue and reward. And its prose, compared to Fitzgerald’s ecstatic art-nouveau lyricism, is austere, restrained, and precise; its polish is the less flashy, more enduring glow of burnished hardwood; its construction is invisibly flawless, like the kind of house they don’t know how to build anymore.

But there really is something about it. I like this passage from an interview with Williams that Julian Barnes brought up in his piece about the novel:

Though he is allowed small victories towards the end of the novel, they are pyrrhic ones. The pains of lost and thwarted love have tested Stoner’s reserves of stoicism to the full; and you might well conclude that his life must be accounted pretty much a failure. But, if so, you would not have Williams on your side. In one of his rare interviews, he commented of his protagonist: “I think he’s a real hero. A lot of people who have read the novel think that Stoner had such a sad and bad life. I think he had a very good life. He had a better life than most people do, certainly. He was doing what he wanted to do, he had some feeling for what he was doing, he had some sense of the importance of the job he was doing … The important thing in the novel to me is Stoner’s sense of a job … a job in the good and honourable sense of the word. His job gave him a particular kind of identity and made him what he was.”

I’m not going to say I loved it, but I quite liked it. Thanks, Mark!

Filed under: my reading year 2014

Apr 30, 2014
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Stop looking for the “right” career, and start looking for a job. Any job. Forget about what you like. Focus on what’s available. Get yourself hired. Show up early. Stay late. Volunteer for the scut work. Become indispensable. You can always quit later, and be no worse off than you are today. But don’t waste another year looking for a career that doesn’t exist. And most of all, stop worrying about your happiness. Happiness does not come from a job. It comes from knowing what you truly value, and behaving in a way that’s consistent with those beliefs. Many people today resent the suggestion that they’re in charge of the way the feel…

Apr 29, 2014
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