On The Virtues Of Idleness
I highly recommend reading through Mark Slouka’s “Quitting The Paint Factory: On The Virtues Of Idleness”, originally published in Harper’s magazine, November 2004.
A brief taste:
Ah, but here’s the rub: Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, reqÂuisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. Which is precisely what makes idleÂness dangerous. All manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil. Not for nothing did our mothers grow suspicious when we had “too much time on our hands.” They knew we might be up to something. And not for nothing did we whisper to each other, when we were up to something, “Quick, look busy.”