Friday, April 1, 2011

I stumbled across this rather interesting piece about idleness.

It is a confusing concept, though, and to find that pure and valid strain, it would help to say what it is not. Idleness is not inertness, for example. Inertness is immobile, inattentive, somehow lacking potential. Neither is idleness quite laziness, for it does not convey disinclination. It is not torpor, or acedia—the so-called Demon of Noontide—nor is it any form of passive resistance, for these require an engagement of the will, and idleness is manifestly not about that. Gandhi was not promulgating idleness, nor was Bartleby the scrivener exhibiting it when he owned that he would “prefer not to.” Nor are we talking about the purged consciousness that Zen would aspire to, or any spiritually influenced condition: idleness is not prayer, meditation, or contemplation, though it may carry tonal shadings of some of these states.

It is the soul’s first habitat, the original self ambushed—cross-sectioned—in its state of nature, before it has been stirred to make a plan, to direct itself toward something.

Idleness is also a necessary precursor to creativity. Only when they could stop running from predators, or hunting and gathering food long enough to enjoy a few minutes of respite, did ancient cave dwellers turn to wall paintings. You don’t see an abundance of art, written, painted, sculpted or otherwise, coming from the lower classes of a society (slaves, serfs, servants) because they were too busy working to survive. Look to any society and you will see creativity flourish when citizens can indulge in idle time.

Posted by geoff at 7:30 AM | 0 comments


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