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There’s a lot to be said for Idleness. Not, in the generally perceived sense of sitting around in your dressing gown all day watching Jeremy Kyle, but, as Bertrand Russell would have it, the pursuit of intellectual activity, cool reflection and free enquiry in favour of ultimately pointless menial toil. Or, to be more blunt ‘…a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by a belief in the virtuousness of WORK’.
The idea that sitting around watching the grass grow, wandering the fields or just spending days cooped up with a book, thinking about life is something abhorrent unless confined to a few weeks of the year is a distinctly post industrial one. These days any pursuit not directly linked to the movement of commodity, accumulation of capital or (as idleness’ only respectable ‘use’ can be found in modernity) recharging yourself so as to be more effective at the first two is deemed as close to heresy as a secular world will have it.
The whole point of industrialisation, the whole reason we bought into it (apart from, of course having no real choice having being forced from the land into the towns and suddenly finding money was indeed the only way to survive) was that it was meant to make life so much easier. When the loom became steam-powered, when kids could suddenly have a day off to go to school, when machines arrived that could do the work of 10 men, weren’t we all meant to be better off? Weren’t we all, rather than slaving to produce more and more useless tat, tat which had to be made less durable to create more demand for more tat to replace the tat that had just broken, meant to have time?
We spend our lives these days in pursuit of aspiration, do we find it? An aspiration is a want, and a want isn’t a solid thing, you can’t aspire to have what you already have viz work harder, longer, find more stuff to want. What if we all just wanted time, time to do what we wanted? Time to let the machines do it? Is the best we can come up with creating more ‘sectors’? More industrialised creative ‘wants’? More lifestyle aspiration? More plastic?
Personally I think ‘they’ are just trying to keep us busy, after all, wandering the countryside leads to finding out it’s being taken off’ve us, intellectual activity leads to asking questions. As Churchill said, ‘Keep them out of the libraries and in the pubs’, as my mate Dave said ‘Now they want to keep them out of the pubs and in front of Strictly with a cheap Teso’s carry out’.
Anyway, I’ve got a four pack and Made in Chelsea’s on in a minute, I can’t stand the program, but, well, there’s naff all else to do.