Archive for the ‘Hannah Arendt’ Category

[LISTENED: April 15, 2013] Shop Class as Soulcraft

shopcraftMy sister-in-law Karen got me this audio book for Christmas.  Now that I have a daily commute I had a chance to listen to it.  And it has really stayed with me.  I think about things from it nearly every day.

Think of the book as “Western Philosophy and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”  Crawford studied philosophy in college.  He later went to work for a think tank.  But underneath all of that learning was a kid who worked as an electrician and a man who was always a gearhead.  So after working in a knowledge job, he quit the life and opened a motorcycle repair shop in Virginia (Shockoe Moto).  This is very likely the only book that quotes Heidegger and Hannah Arendt and also liberally uses the words shit and motherfucker (until I write my novel, of course).

My initial reaction to this book was not great.  I didn’t especially like the reader, Max Bloomquist (although I see he is a frequent audiobook voice).  His voice reminded me a lot of old filmstrips from grade school–a little stilted (which made the cursing even more surprising).  But I got used to it after an hour or so.  I also didn’t like the introduction/first chapter.  There was something about the tone of the Introduction that was either snooty or pedantic which I found off-putting.  The first chapter was a lengthy summary/example of what the book was supposed to be about–so much so that it felt like he wouldn’t need the rest of the book.  By the end of the chapter I didn’t understand why there was so much left.  So I’m actually pleased with myself for sticking with it, as I really didn’t enjoy the first two hours or so.  It was an uncomfortable mix of fifty cent words and a comparable dismissal of people who use them, or at least that’s how it felt.

But then he seemed to loosen up and that’s when it got really interesting.  His story is a fascinating one.  I think he grew up on a commune (although I feel like he only started talking about that about midway through the book).  His scholarship, his abandonment of it, his love of motorcycles and his work as an electrician and an apprentice mechanic all led to where he is now–a well-rounded individual. (more…)

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