Jim Rosenau is eager to hear author Matthew Crawford tomorrow night:

With the city looking to reduce protection for industrial land use in West Berkeley, Mrs Dalloway’s hosts an appearance from Matthew Crawford (right) reading from Shop Class as Soulcraft (just released in paperback), the most articulate celebration of manual work in many years.

Here’s what the publisher writes: “Today, shop class has all but disappeared from the mainstream educational landscape, replaced by the necessity of turning everyone into a ‘knowledge worker’. This imperative is based on a misguided assumption that there is a separation of thinking from doing; the work of the hand from that of the mind. Crawford’s book is an inspired manifesto that has restored the honor of the manual trades.”

Having careers in both manual and symbolic work worlds, I was thrilled by the excerpt, The Case for Working With Your Hands, that ran pre-publication in The New York Times Magazine last year. Finally someone had taken the time to explain to the pixel-pushing crowd the intelligence required — and gained from — turning a wrench, swinging a hammer or pinning a hem.

The book, for me, was a mixed blessing. At least half of it was far too abstractly philosophical for my taste. The title and much of the prose read like a dissertation he had to get out of his system. Not my thermos of coffee. Still, the parts that shine made it more than worthwhile.

If your work requires tools and materials more than symbols — words, pixels and numbers — Crawford makes the case for the merit of your work. Hear him out.

Crawford will be at Mrs Dalloway’s, 2904 College Avenue, on Thursday May 13 at 7:30 p.m.

Jim Rosenau makes fine art furniture from books at his studio, This Into That, in West Berkeley

Photo by Robert Adamo.

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