One of my professors in architecture school once referred to this myth as the aesthetic of work: that if you make something that forces people to acknowledge how much time and effort it took to create, they would inherently prescribe greater value to it. That’s why people are drawn to vast intricate murals and giant cathedrals and monumental pyramids, he said. From that reasoning follows a fetishization of productivity, which expresses itself in a pressure to do more and more, to be more and more productive, to work harder and harder, because of some flawed valuing of the work itself over the thing that is actually being made. It leads to this flawed belief that if you worked really hard on something, then it must be valuable simply because you worked really hard on it. Which all of us, as victims of late stage capitalism know, gets us all into all sorts of toxic and destructive mentalities.
This professor of mine claimed to detest the idea of the aesthetic of work, which I really respected, and he took great lengths to declare himself a minimalist, but whenever I showed him my projects, he always asked me why I didn’t work harder on them.
The drawing for this entry of A small list of knowable things is an unpublished drawing of mine from 2014, when I was in architecture school. It is a study of the interior volume of the Sant’Eligio degli Orefici in Rome.
From "quietly provocative" international best selling author and TV writer Jonny Sun, a weekly illustration and reflection on a personal object close to his heart.