THE AESTHETICS OF INDUSTRIALIZATION. De Botton asserts that the achievements of logistics (the distribution of goods in the global economy) are beautiful and neglected. He points out that premodern travelers would take a great interest in a new country’s “granaries, aqueducts, harbours and workshops, feeling that the observation of work could be as stimulating as anything on a stage or chapel wall” and refers to “an unwarranted prejudice which deems it peculiar to express overly powerful feelings of admiration towards a gas tanker or a paper mill—or indeed towards almost any aspect of the labouring world.” De Botton opens his book with a master stroke which dramatizes his argument. He presents 5 men who are “cargo ship spotters”—-avid fans of logistics in the same way that baseball fans are fans. He describes them standing in the rain watching the arrival of a cargo ship and points out that they know the names of these ships, their specifications, their destinations, their times of arrival, and their cargos. I take an interest in the modern economy, but I have to admit—ruefully—that, as you kids know, I have more enthusiasm for the industries of Colonial Williamsburg or for the 13th century grain storage building in Ghent.

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