After posting Alain De Botton’s quote about meaningful work, I read his book The Joys and Sorrows of Work. It was an interesting read, but ultimately a bit empty. He described a number of unusual working environments, but managed not to get a single worker’s words or thoughts onto the page. Mostly what he describes are the factual landscape, his own reactions to what he sees, and way too much about his own difficulties traveling.
But he is a thoughtful observer, and a good writer. After watching inventors pitch futilely to investors, he summed up the dynamics of venture capital thus:
Then again, there was a certain heroic beauty in the exuberant destruction of both capital and hope entailed by the entrepreneurs’ activities. Money patiently accumulated through decades of unremarkable work would, in a rush of optimism inspired by a flattering business plan, be handed over to a momentarily convincing chief executive, who would hasten to set the pyre alight in a brief, brilliant and largely inconsequential blaze.
A bit cynical, but spot on.