In Praise of Uselessness.

Stay tuned for an announcement of my forthcoming blog on enchantment with nature, disenchantment with humanity, and the quest to find beauty in the midst of the sixth-or-so phanerozoic mass extinction. Maybe. This new blog will be anonymous, so I will perhaps just flash the announcement subliminally. 

The material here reflects what I was pondering circa early 2018, a time nearly forgotten, yet it’s still worth leaving online imho.

“The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake.” – Bertrand Russell in “In Praise of Idleness

Conditions have scarcely improved since the publication of that classic essay of 1932.

As writer Andrew Taggart bemoans in a recent article for Aeon, modern society is approaching a world of total work, in which the “total worker” is a “figure of ceaseless, tensed, busied activity: a figure, whose main affliction is a deep existential restlessness fixated on producing the useful.”

Although I have sometimes described myself as a critic of the culture of work, I don’t just mean that we ought to spend less of our time “on the clock.” Even more centrally, I reject the assessment of our non-economically-productive activities, from schooling to leisure, in terms of their ability to contribute to our effectiveness as paid workers.

The antidote to the culture of work, therefore requires not only a reduction in working hours but also a greater appreciation of the useless— that which is valuable for its own sake, not as a mere means to an income, job, promotion, or expansion of business.