‘How to Be Idle’: Being and Do-Nothingness

Jeffrey Steingarten in the New York Times:

For every hour of the day and night there is a different way of being idle, which is why Tom Hodgkinson has written his book in 24 chapters. At 8 a.m. (”Waking Up Is Hard to Do”), true idlers turn off their alarms, flop over in bed and go back to sleep. Hodgkinson is amazed that we voluntarily buy alarm clocks, which serve nobody but our employers. Nine a.m. is ”the time when someone, somewhere, decided that work should start.” And at 10 a.m. the idler is still sleeping in, living out Dr. Johnson’s incontestable dictum that ”the happiest part of a man’s life is what he passes lying awake in bed in the morning.”

The chief problem with modern life is not work in itself. It is jobs. In 1993 Hodgkinson founded the British magazine The Idler, on whose Web site he succinctly sums up the horrors of having a job: ”With a very few exceptions the world of jobs is characterized by stifling boredom, grinding tedium, poverty, petty jealousies, sexual harassment, loneliness, deranged co-workers, bullying bosses, seething resentment, illness, exploitation, stress, helplessness, hellish commutes, humiliation, depression, appalling ethics, physical fatigue and mental exhaustion.” Yes, that pretty much sums it up. On this we can all agree.

And the solution? Become an idler.

More here.

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