Author: Jonathan Malesic

I'm a writer and a former professor and parking lot attendant. I cover work, religion, and education, and I'm currently writing a book about the spiritual costs of the American work ethic.

Pay Attention

Reprinted from Jonathan’s eponymous newsletter. I’ve been thinking a lot about attention. My semester of teaching first-year writing just ended, which means I’ve been mulling over what went wrong during the class. And the things I think most went wrong had to do with attention. (Things went right, too, but I tend to dwell on the negative.) I won’t go into detail,…

Which Wich Battles the Salad Robots

Last week I flew out of the airport in Buffalo, New York, and saw a new thing: Sally, a machine that makes salads. It was just opposite my gate and next to a Which Wich? outlet where humans make sandwiches with their own two hands. Sally is basically a vending machine, except it makes food to order. It also lays bare…

No, Really: We Don’t Have an Adequate Way to Talk About the Meaning of Work

I have an essay about work and meaning in the current issue of The Hedgehog Review. The essay has elicited some good responses from friend and stranger alike; I’m grateful for all. I always have mixed feelings when people write to say my essays about work resonate with their experience. On the one hand, my entire goal is to put words to the experience…

Quit Your Day Job (On Hannah Gadsby, Worker)

“Don’t quit your day job” is the extremely clever advice hecklers yell at comedians they judge to be not very funny. (As if 99% of performers – or writers or other artists – could ever afford not to have day jobs.) Australian standup comic Hannah Gadsby’s Netflix special “Nanette” isn’t especially funny, but that’s part of its point. In the middle of the special, she…

The dignity of work: a surprising point of division

By Jonathan Malesic Every American, it seems, believes in the dignity of work. Americans overwhelmingly see ourselves as hardworking, attesting to the value they place on work. Rival politicians like Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Sherrod Brown all make appeal to the dignity of work in in addressing voters. At first glance, this seems to be a widely-shared…