It seems to me that one’s occupation may fall into one of two broad categories: The former, that of creating things—of constructing, inventing, and thereby adding something to the world, perhaps something of value and beauty that increases happiness; and the latter, and perplexingly more highly esteemed (in some pseudo-moral sense), that of ‘helping people,’ or, as I understand it, of fixing things that have gone to shit.
I understand that the undoing or removal of shit is likely to make the world a more pleasant place. Wiping the arses of people who cannot wipe their own must surely make their days sunnier. Fretting about those born into disadvantage and plotting to match them with homes and jobs and to repair their crumbling relationships gives people a lift up where they previously had none.
However, I had an epiphany, and my epiphany was this: Fixing peoples’ shit is boring. I don’t want to trail around after people, sweeping up what they scatter wantonly, or what they spew up uncontrollably. I can make peoples’ lives sunnier—because I can create. I can mix my labour with ordinary objects and make them into pleasing, desirable things.
But my philosophical indignation rises, a boiling pot, when I am confronted with the attitude that repairing hovels is more morally admirable than building castles. Yes, you are a good person if you spoon food into old peoples’ mouths. But you are merely artificially replicating what has heretofore occurred naturally. You are a good person if you pull people out of hopeless situations. But I want to know: Pour quoi? For what have you raised them? To tarry on, self-sacrificing and having a miserable time wiping the arses of others? Surely you have saved them for yet higher things, for lavishing grande opuses on the world, for shaking themselves completely of the filth of waste and decay, in which they will consent to wallow no more.