James Hillman on Modern Work

I’ve talked about the cost of ugliness. We think that beauty–“beautification” is the way we talk about it, as if you go and do something and make it more beautiful; line the highways with something–that costs too much, so we have to be more functional and not waste money on that. But the cost of ugliness is much greater. Being in an ugly room, an ugly building, ugly traffic, ugly homes, ugly malls, and so forth. We don’t need to talk about what is ugliness? Just that sense that I’m abused by the daily life that I lead in a suburb, in an office building with the machinery going on: air conditioners, lights, the absence of windows. In how many academic offices are there no windows? In how many publishing firms and how many insurance companies are you in a wall-less office in one of these giant places in a cubicle?

You spend your life there, and you spend your life there in order to get your pension. That’s slavery. If I stay long enough with this Roman master, or this Mississippi master, I will become a freed man. It’s the same thinking. But we voluntarily do it now. That is worrisome. And therapy does not address this thing.

-Hillman, from an interview


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