Imaginatively disconnected

A Reading Note

The paradox of abundance and obscurity:

Two centuries ago, our forebears would have known the precise history and origin of nearly every one of the limited number of things they ate and owned, as well as of the people and tools involved in their production. They were acquainted with the pig, the carpenter, the weaver, the loom and the dairymaid. The range of items available for purchase may have grown exponentially since then, but our understanding of their genesis has diminished almost to the point of obscurity. We are now as imaginatively disconnected from the manufacture and distribution of our goods as we are practically in reach of them, a process of alienation which has stripped us of myriad opportunities for wonder, gratitude and guilt.

de Botton, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, page 35

The natural result of such a state is that the people who labor to produce these items remain as obscure to the world—and so, as defenseless—as are the means by which they toil. But it needn’t be this way.

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