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How to Be Idle: A Loafer's Manifesto Paperback – April 24, 2007
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About the Author
Tom Hodgkinson is still doing what he's always done, which is a mixture of editing magazines, writing articles, and putting on parties. He was born in 1968, founded The Idler in 1993, and now lives in Devon, England. He is also the author of The Freedom Manifesto.
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When exactly did we switch to our modern, hectic lifestyle? Sociologists differ, but most agree on industrialisation being the main culprit. When machines arrived and mass production started in 17th century, the world took a turn and with it just about everything changed. In one sense, it was a blessing. People were now guaranteed a steady income at the end of the month; products became more available and amenities more affordable and enjoyable. At the beginning there was excitement and all looked well. But with time, life was becoming more stressful and tedious, and anxiety levels shot up. Working 10-12 hours a day at a factory 6-7 days a week was strenuous, if not exhausting. People's leisure time disappeared and fatigue set in. Employer's pressure to produce more was relentless. In fact workers started to realise that, sadly, they were being owned and enslaved by their companies. Employers started a psychological campaign to uplift morals using expressions like; Work is heathy, idleness is for the lazy; hard work brings health, wealth and wisdom, and so on. But the few intellectuals. who refused to be enslaved, realised what was going on: it was all a selfish effort to increase the wealth of the few, rich owners.
So, how does the author suggest we get over this ingrained philosophy of hard work intended only to enrich the capitalists in our society? "It's time to say No to jobs and Yes to fun, freedom and pleasure. It's time to be idle " says the author. Taking all this seriously, he established the Idler Magazine to help people start their idle life. He launched a comprehensive effort to romanticise the good old days before industrialisation. Why be a slave to a schedule we did not choose? Why rush in the morning? Rising early is unnatural. "No! early risers are not healthy, wealthy and wise - they are often sickly, poor and stupid" . The best ideas have come from idle people and not from those hampered by excessive routines. And, look at our eating habits: long gone is the leisurely lunch with wine and good friends; see now how it has been reduced to a dry sandwich eaten alone, in order to rush back to work.. What about our afternoon nap - our "inalienable right" which has been taken from us by the agents of industry. Winston Churchill and Thomas Edison, to mention only two great men, took a nap every day! The author bemoans too, the death of the afternoon tea, a calming ritual which to many was absolutely sacrosanct. After all it was the drink of poets and philosophers. It was mostly abandoned - it retarded production.
What are we to make of all this? Should we go ahead and join the Idlers? Or, is our modern life, hectic as it is, more beneficial and, at least, ensures our financial security? We obviously need a compromise, one that will ensure our security as well as provide us with the peace of mind and the will to bring back the fun and joy of the old idle days.
Fuad R Qubein
How is it a good idea to drink an extra large coffee, that gives you the shakes and gut rot and only the illusion of productivity. Fear not- Idling doesn't mean sitting around like a new age bum, although that would be perfectly acceptable should you choose that option. It means taking control of your day, and not letting work (especially the bureaucratic busy work) run your life. Take time to drink a cup of tea. It's ritualistic and more conscious than a gallon of coffee. We learned this already, slow and steady wins the race,
I read this in Florida visiting my grandparents and they, and all the other seniors by the pool seemed to look at the cover as some sort of communist manifesto. I think for them, working was a profitable, well respected and attainable prospect. It seems today that the precarity of existing in a society that constantly puts up obstacles, leaving a person in a constant state of anxiety makes any alternative of thinking a helpful or even life saving option. If you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, this is really the book. Sleep in, have a cup of tea, a smoke, sex, drink, and a good conversation all while getting your work done. Imagine that.