Thursday, November 25, 2004

On the Virtues of Idleness

Via Chris (and a second recommendation from Brian) comes this excellent article -- QUITTING THE PAINT FACTORY: On the virtues of idleness. It's not an easy read, but it's worth slogging through for the pearls of wisdom. A tiny taste:
"Look about: The business of busi­ness is everywhere and inescapable; the song of the buyers and the sellers never stops; the term "workaholic" has been folded up and put away. We have no time for our friends or our families, no time to think or to make a meal. We're moving product, while the soul drowns like a cat in a well."
Update:Brian deconstructs and supports the same article with his usual depth and skill.


Phil from the UK said...

Quitting the Paint factory is an exceptional piece. Thanks for pointing it out. There are a couple of paragaraphs that I think are entirely apposite to what your Lifestyling project seems to be articulating:

"It is this willingness to hand over our lives that fascinates and appalls me. There's such a lovely perversity to it; it's so wonderfully counterintuitive, so very Christian: You must empty your pockets, turn them inside out, and spill out your wife and your son, the pets you hardly knew, and the days you sim­ply missed altogether watching the sunlight fade on the bricks across the way. You must hand over the rainy afternoons, the light on the grass, the moments of play and of simply being. You must give it up, all of it, and by your example teach your children to do the same, and then – because even this is not enough – you must train yourself to believe that this outsourcing of your life is both natural and good. But even so, your soul will not be saved."

This pretty much sums it up for me.

Slouka also very cleverly connects consumerism and leisure and introduces - to me anyhow -the idea that leisure and idleness are separate things. Fine, but I believe that leisure (in many of it's forms) and idleness are both laudable. I must admit that I agree with his anti consumerist stance here:

"Leisure is permissible, we understand, because it costs money; idleness is not, because it doesn't. Leisure is focused; whatever thinking it requires is absorbed by a certain task: sinking that putt, making that cast, watching that flat-screen TV. Idleness is unconstrained, anarchic. Leisure – particularly if it involves some kind of high-priced technology – is as American as a Fourth of July barbecue. Idleness, on the other hand, has a bad attitude. It doesn't shave; it's not a member of the team; it doesn't play well with others. It thinks too much, as my high school coach used to say."

Fantastic stuff and a great piece that really made me think.

PS I am thinking of starting a blog of my own - inspired partly by some of the ideas I am seeing here and in some of the other lifestyler blogs. I'll let you know when I am up and running.

Jeremy said...

Great comments, Phil. Both quotes really hit the nail on the head.

Looking forward to seeing your blog -- keep me posted!