Ten a. Then a rambling stroll followed by the first drink of the day. Ten in the evening: pints at the pub; a midnight contemplation of the celestial sphere; meditation at four in the morning. Who the hell lives like this? Tom Hodgkinson, for one. In the midst of this guilty inaction he found a series of essays by Samuel Johnson on the virtues of kicking back and the vital link between idleness and creativity.
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Hudson rated it liked it There is something disappointing about this book that puzzles me, since I found that I agreed with much of it, and that it often made a great deal of sense. Its use of the great literary past to bolster its arguments were quirky and effective Against Nature by Huysmans, lots of Walt Whitman and, oddly, but to good effect, Robert Burns Hodgkinson spends a lot of time in Scotland, which explains the Burns, I guess.
It is an agreeable, pleasant book, as a book about being idle should be. I guess There is something disappointing about this book that puzzles me, since I found that I agreed with much of it, and that it often made a great deal of sense. It is an agreeable, pleasant book, as a book about being idle should be…. I guess the problem is, which Hodgkinson addresses, but not to my satisfaction, is the difference between the sunny, amusing, free-spirited idler and an out-and-out deadbeat.
Or the difference between idling through the day and sloth. And oh how badly I want these distinctions to be made! How badly I want to loaf with a clean conscience! What Hodgkinson fails to provide is the real sense of regret that pervades the real idler. Instead, he provides the boosterish Chamber of Commerce version of idling, concentrating on the good stuff, ignoring the waste, the slag, the runoff and the pollution of true idleness.
The reasons to be idle were too prescriptive. I was only a too-old observer on the fringes of our own little local rave scene, but it all seemed far too busy to me. Drugs and booze have their own set of problems, which the author acknowledges and even he had to admit that his rave days have been over for years. So why was this chapter here? It reinforced the suspicion that I was getting idling advice from a kid… But of course Hodgkinson himself is no idler.
He founded and runs a magazine The Idler. He started up an absinthe-importing business. Oh sure, like all western privileged males, he spent a lot of young-man in his early twenties loafing about, and to a great extent it is this period of his life from which he draws many of his tales of being idle.
How To Be Idle: An Interview with Tom Hodgkinson
A lot of the writing I value is, in one way or another, about the seven deadly sins, especially sloth and gluttony. People who are sophisticated in these two areas tend to be congenial sorts who have good advice about how to live in most other areas, too. Like Protestants, these books come in many denominations. It was a best seller in some places, though it never made The New York Times list. Hodgkinson founded The Idler, a cult magazine about intelligent slacking, in
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