Issue 11 Flight Summer 2003
For or Against Laziness?
Compiled by Marina van Zuylen, Sasha Archibald, and Christine Potts
To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.
The only way to avoid being miserable is not to have enough leisure to wonder whether you are happy or not.
Zeal has killed off far more people than laziness.
Lying down was not for Ilya Ilyitch either a necessity as it is for a sick or a sleepy man, or an occasional need as it is for a person who is tired, or a pleasure as it is for a sluggard:it was his normal state. When he was at home—and he was almost always at home—he was lying down, and invariably in the same room, the one in which we have found him and which served him as bedroom, study, and reception-room.
Our life, it’s an assassination by work. We dangle from a noose for sixty years. Now we’re about to cut it...
It is necessary to work, if not from inclination, at least from despair. Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.
It’s true hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?
Laziness is what distinguishes the barbarian from the civilized man; this laziness, as opposed to a practical training that promotes ... the need for action, is what keeps him plunged in stupor.
I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention—invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.
Why is work so exalted, enthroned and glorified, while laziness is in the doghouse, why are most lazy souls smeared with shame, branded with the stamp of infamy, the stamp of mother-laziness, when the most menial of workers is destined for glory, honors, and rewards?
I have always believed that it should be the exact opposite: work should be cursed, as legends about paradise teach us, while laziness should be man’s essential goal.
It is a mistake to believe that only the violent passions—love and ambition—can be triumphant. Laziness, with all its languor, comes out just as victorious; she encroaches upon all of life’s designs and decisions; she silently destroys and consumes all passion and virtues.
In addition to our own failure to succeed, the triumph of others is yet another punishment for our laziness.
I have discovered that all human evil comes from the fact that man is unable to sit still in a room.
People of all pursuits combine to disparage those who have none.
Nobody can think straight who does not work. Idleness warps the mind.
Laziness is not a myth; it is a basic, seemingly natural given of the educational situation. Why? Because school is a structure of constraint, and laziness is a means for the pupil to dupe this constraint.
Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.
Sloth is the condition in which a man is fully aware of the proper means of his salvation and refuses to take them because the whole apparatus of salvation fills him with tedium and disgust.
The American’s inability to loaf comes directly from his desire for doing things and in his placing action above being.
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© 2003 Cabinet Magazine