How to Be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto
By Tom Hodgkinson
There must have been something in the air back in the mid-2000’s, a vibe hinting that things were about to change and maybe not for the better.
In the years before the looming financial meltdown that would be yet one more dislocation in a jarring, new century, unsettling movies like the Coen Brothers’ No Country for Old Men and Stephen King’s The Mist seemed to intuit that a familiar, old order was abruptly giving way to uncertain times.
On the positive side, books like Tom Hodgkinson’s How to be Idle: A Loafer’s Manifesto was also published, manifesting just in time to offer readers a way to keep the series of disorienting events shaping the early 21st century in perspective.
As the founding editor of The Idler, a magazine devoted to the art of doing nothing, Hodgkinson seemed to anticipate the collapse of an economic Ponzi scheme that fed on the tireless hard work of people who bought into the work-obsessed, debt-driven society of that time, hook, line, and sinker. He critiques the worker-bee culture that offered “patronizing self-help books” urging more productivity from readers and magazines that exploited body anxiety to rationalize toiling all day at a job “to pay for the pleasure of running on a treadmill” at the gym.
Although he couldn’t know that the impending economic crisis of ’08 would leave many people with lots of time on their hands, Hodgkinson presents an argument for redefining our time in a way that gives real value to one’s life.