How to be idle

Gamma asked me what I was reading.
How to be Idle,’ I told her.
‘What’s “idle” mean?’ she asked me.
I told her it was sort of like ‘lazy’.
‘Hah!’ she said. ‘No one has to teach us how to be lazy, do they now!?’ she laughed, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
I had to wonder whether I’d been sending the wrong signals, father-wise.
Because Gamma and I are not lazy, just, sort of, disorganized, in what I consider as not only a bad way.
Tom Hodgkinson runs The Idler and has written a couple books on the subject. I read reviews of the new one, How to be Free, and decided to buy the first one from his website sometime before Christmas.
I also ordered a copy of the magazine, The Idler.
They never came, although I’d paid for them. After a while I mailed their site and got a nice message back from someone, apologizing for forgetting to send my order.
I couldn’t get mad, could I, without being a hypocrite.
The package arrived soon afterwards.
I found both magazine and book enjoyable, the book more so because the font was slightly larger. The work-less-enjoy-life-more angle is encouraging, one hears too little of that nowadays. A bit more emphasis on drinking and getting fucked up than I needed; on the other hand the idea expressed that being organized actually helps one idle better was interesting. I may try that soon.
In fact, I’m now trying that idea with Gamma, trying to find a way to employ organization and discipline as a way to minimize crises (losing things, looming deadlines) in order to maximize fun and sleep.

12 responses to “How to be idle

  1. Jann

    I find myself puzzled by your phrase “…in what I consider as not only a bad way.” Do you mean “not entirely a bad way,” or “not necesarily
    a bad way,” or something different? And is this something people say in Seattle? Or English speaking people in Vienna? (I have never heard the phrase “not only” used this way before).

  2. mig

    Me talk pretty some day.
    A big fear I have is that my English is eroding after, what, more than 25 years out of the country. What I was trying to express was that I think we are disorganized in a way that is both more than bad enough but also good in some ways. So, in other words, disorganized in a way that is thoroughly bad, but not only bad, having as it does some redeeming aspects as well. In other words, not only bad.
    I also always worry about my prepositions. “consider AS not only bad?” or “consider TO BE not only bad?” or something else?

  3. mig

    That is, disorganized in a rich way. Richly disorganized. Disorganization with all the costs, but also some benefits.

  4. Jann

    Thank you. I understand real good right now what you say. But I think I would have expressed this idea as “Not entirely bad.”

  5. D

    I stumbled on that point too, however I am reminded that I constantly use direct translations of French turns of phrases that make perfect sense to me and nobody else then patiently explain them to people who query them as if *they* were the idiot.

  6. zeynep

    Do you mean you have your own way of organizing things- which may look disorganized from outside but is not as disorganized as people may think?
    And I have to ask: why is idle/lazy associated with disorganized at all?
    I am asking because I find simple pleasures in not doing things….:)

  7. mig

    I believe that disorganization is not only a bad thing, and that some good can come of it; I thinks that chaos can, sometimes, be fertile ground for creativity. I believe that too much efficiency – especially on a societal scale – is a bad thing. I used to assume efficiency on a personal scale was bad as well, but I am coming to realize that if one is somewhat efficient, then one has more time for leisure activities or leisure inactivities.
    In my own case, I imagine that someone who does not know me well might assume that I am rather organized, whereas my true level of disorganization has reached dangerous levels. I would like to do something about that, and am taking small steps in that direction, but wonder whether they are sufficient.

  8. Jann

    Reading what you wrote makes my head hurt, mig, because it reminds me of all the things I was supposed have done months ago but haven’t gotten around to yet. And there’s no good excuse. I can function quite well with a certain degree of disorganization, but I’m much happier when I’m organized. And too much disorganization makes me feel anxious, stressed out, and overwhelmed.

    But as for idleness; I’m not sure if this is directly related to disorganization. I am a person who needs a lot of “down time,” that is, time to do whatever I wish without any demands on me. That might mean lying on the couch all day. Some might call this idleness; but I think there’s a difference. I need the same amount of down time whether I’m organized or not; I suppose the difference is that that I enjoy my down time more if I’m not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I haven’t done yet!

  9. mig

    There is a word in German that comes close to what I am thinking when I use the word “idle” etc. and that is “Mu

  10. Jann

    I like the word “Musse” already. Also “stimmen.” I’m not fluent in German, but to the extent that I understand the language, it makes more sense to me than English, and always has.

  11. intrados

    i like to think of idling as a resetting of the compass. my particular needle does seem to be easily spun these days, so… yeah, less spinning is okay by me.

    and gin helps too.

  12. Meagan

    I understand what you mean about being afraid you’re going to lose your English… I did a semester in a university in Mexico and came home wondering where in Cuernavaca I lost all my English words.

    Then again, I have days when I get off work (where I speak Spanish almost exclusively), go over to my mother’s house to pick up my son, and say, “V