The Great Mystery #2: At The Lunga School

Since the summer of 2017, I’ve been experimenting off and on with an artistic-philosophical form sometimes called “The Philosopher Is Present” and sometimes called “The Great Mystery” or something else. “The Way of Mystery” may be the current name.

A couple of weeks ago, I recorded the latest version of this improvisational piece, this time with art students at the LungA School, an art school located in rural Iceland. Enjoy.

My Latest Quartz at Work: WeWork and Google Offices are a lot like Exploitative Company Towns of the Past

The piece begins:

At VideoAmp, a software and data platform, CEO Rory McCray “encourages an environment where his employees practically live at the office,” the BBC reported in February 2017. Personal trainers, yoga instruction, meals, and games are all provided at the Santa Monica office, and employees come in early, get “addicted to productivity” and often stay late.

Meanwhile, WeWork, a startup that leases co-working and office space, is involved in renovating Dock 72, a massive 675,000-square-foot building located in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard. And Dock 72, which boasts amenities that include organic food, conference rooms, and fitness centers—not to mention the promise of serendipitous encounters with other extroverted entrepreneurs—could be, according to the New York Times, “the kind of place you never have to leave.”

While these attempts at packing workspaces with everything a worker might need to live seem novel, they actually have a direct, and rather shadowy, historical parallel. Unbeknownst to them, VideoAmp, WeWork, and many more prominent tech companies such as Google and Facebook are drawing on a model that, up through the early parts of the 20th century, was a social experiment implemented at coal mines, textile mills, steel plants, and even chocolate factories: the company town.

You can read the rest of the article here

My Latest Quartz at Work: How Workers Killed the Liberal Arts

My latest Quartz at Work piece begins:

“Work is fundamental to who you are and who you will become,” Bates College president Clayton Spencer told freshmen who had just arrived at the small liberal arts college in 2013. And, she continued, “I hope you realize by now that you have been working all of your life.” These freshmen, she assured them on that autumn day, were about to embark on their “college careers,” which would soon usher them into their professional careers.

Nothing may seem out of the ordinary about Spencer’s remarks, but from the vantage point afforded us by history, we can see how unusual it is for a liberal arts college to ground its existence in work.

The liberal arts, until relatively recently, were regarded as “liberal” to the degree that they taught students that some things in life, being good in themselves, were not done because they were useful or necessary but entirely for their own sake. The liberal arts took as its purpose that of introducing students to a space of freedom beyond expediency, practicality, and utility. Work, therefore, had nothing to do with it.

Sadly, pretty much all that was liberal (or “free”) about the liberal arts has since withered away, and now they live on mostly in name only, and only so long as they’re deemed useful.

How did the liberal arts meet their death?

You can read the rest of the piece here