The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why “Do What You Love” Is Bad Advice

find a job you loveIn 2005, Steve Jobs gave a now-famous graduation speech at Stanford University. “You’ve got to find what you love,” he said.

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

“Yes! This is the Truth about careering!” Said everyone, ever.

Or okay, most of us. Who read or heard it.
And who also are privileged enough to have lives in which such an admonition has any chance of being follow-able.

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Literary Boroughs #9: Berkeley, California

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the ninth post on Berkeley, California by Andrew David King. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

What have I lost? Spook singer, hold your tongue.
I sing a newer song no ghost-bird sings.
My tongue is sharpened on the iron’s edge.
Canaries need no trees. They have their cage.

– Jack Spicer, “A Postscript to the Berkeley Renaissance,” 1954

There are two cities called Berkeley—the city of the nation’s imagination, and the city as it actually exists—and they are constantly at odds. Popular media would have one believe that this suburb with a gaze through the Golden Gate’s columns is filled with politicos who are so far left, they’ve come full circle back to right. There are activists and the socially conscious, but such a depiction isn’t the only truth of this town; Berkeley is filled with as many stripes of ideology as flavors in the gelato stores that line Shattuck Avenue. And it is filled with histories humming alongside each other: that of the Vietnam War protests, the Beats, the Berkeley Renaissance, and the discovery of new elements of the periodic table. It’s no coincidence that Berkeley is named for the poet and philosopher George Berkeley, whose idealist philosophy suggests that all exists only in the minds of perceivers. The city’s made rich by the beehive of students at the University of California and those who, moved by art or history, make pilgrimages here. The campus sits at the base of the Mediterranean-looking East Bay ridges (“…The ripened brown of these magnificent hills… reminds me of my beloved Greece,” said University of California President Benjamin Ide Wheeler in an 1899 address to the student body), but it is not the center of town, per se; it is one center in a city that spins on countless axes.

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