43 Folders

Back to Work

Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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”What’s 43 Folders?”
43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Matthew Crawford on "Shop Class as Soulcraft"

The New Atlantis - Shop Class as Soulcraft - Matthew B. Crawford

Fans of my Richard Scarry Book of the Future podcast would do well to hear a contrasting viewpoint put forth in this long essay by Matthew Crawford.

As someone who can scarcely construct a ham sandwich without requiring a trip to the ER, I enjoyed learning the perspective of a smart person whose cognitive and physical skills seem equally well-developed. I found parts to be a bit over the top in their first-world zest for manual labor -- a good friend of mine was fond of saying "You can't choose to join the proletariat" -- but you have to like Crawford's well-articulated enthusiasm for seeing mind and hand equally engaged:

The satisfactions of manifesting oneself concretely in the world through manual competence have been known to make a man quiet and easy. They seem to relieve him of the felt need to offer chattering interpretations of himself to vindicate his worth. He can simply point: the building stands, the car now runs, the lights are on. Boasting is what a boy does, who has no real effect in the world. But craftsmanship must reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, where one’s failures or shortcomings cannot be interpreted away.

Well stated.

About Merlin

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Merlin Mann is an independent writer, speaker, and broadcaster. He’s best known for being the guy who created the website you’re reading right now. He lives in San Francisco, does lots of public speaking, and helps make cool things like You Look Nice Today, Back to Work, and Kung Fu Grippe. Also? He’s writing this book, he lives with this face, he suffers from this hair, he answers these questions, and he’s had this life. So far.

Merlin’s favorite thing he’s written in the past few years is an essay entitled, “Cranking.”




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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Merlin used to crank. He’s not cranking any more.

This is an essay about family, priorities, and Shakey’s Pizza, and it’s probably the best thing he’s written. »

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