My friend Nigel and I were chatting the other day. He was in London, and I was back home here in Munich. I was telling him about the Summer of Uke, which kicked off the other day at the Corso Leopold when Idleright played Mustard and a Piece of Bread. Then we found ourselves knee-deep in a discussion about idling.
So, we were talking about playing the ukulele and idling, and the logical place this conversation is going is to London. Not just London, but Nigel‘s neighbourhood there. You see, there’s a place for idling. Well, there are many places for idling. Shakespeare and Company in Paris. Or up in Aspen, Colorado there’s Explore Booksellers. Those’re excellent idling locations. As is the Orange Show in Houston, Texas. I could keep listing excellent places to idle, but the point of this is to introduce one place in particular that I’m very excited about. The one in London. Near Nigel.
That’s right. It’s a place called The Idler. I’m going to go there. It’s on my list. As a travelling Bon Vivant, I’m sure I’ll be there sooner than any of us expect. But in the meantime, Nigel has offered to be my London correspondent. He’s going to the Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment in my name and writing about his encounters. There will be stories of Nigel doing as little as possible. He’ll ask some inappropriate questions while he’s there, and hopefully manage to get his photo taken. It’s all very official.
I think you’ll enjoy Nigel’s work. Especially because it won’t resemble work in any way, shape or form. As is the way of a true idler.
Because of some new projects I’m involved with, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and trying to do too much. So many things I wanted to accomplish this weekend, and yet something in me rebelled. It was as if my brain raised a flag of surrender and said, ‘Enough.’
Rather than power through and do a lot of work for the sake of it, I followed my heart. I listened to music and took the dogs for a longer walk than usual. Normally, I’d brew a pot of tea to fuel my next writing session. But instead I brewed the same tea I would have and sat looking out the window while I drank it. Doing nothing.
Not doing very little. Not planning the next thing I’d do. Doing absolutely nothing. At all.
Yet, there was something bothering me at the end of the day. While I normally have something concrete to show for another day of existence, here I was left at a loss. Those projects were still sitting there untouched. Those people waiting on my submissions still on the other end of the telephone line. Or another email asking, ‘How’s the thing coming? You know, the one we’ve already been waiting on for so long.‘
Uh, I didn’t want to think of that. Not at all.
In the process of doing some research about an old folk singer whose playing a show in Munich, I happened upon a website called The Idler. This isn’t going to help. This might even keep me distracted a while longer.
The section called About: An Introduction begins:
‘The Idler is an annual periodical that campaigns against the work ethic and promotes liberty, autonomy and responsibility.’
Ooh, working against the work ethic? This could get interesting. Liberty and autonomy sound good…I tend to shirk responsibility when possible (see above), but I suppose I do get around to being responsible when it matters.
Then the same page says:
‘The title comes from a series of essays by Dr Johnson, published in 1758-9 in the Gentleman’s Magazine.’
Well, I needn’t know too much about the periodical (it’s from the eighteenth century, after all…unlikely that it’s still in print), but you know I had to go look for what Samuel Johnson had to say about Idlers. I did go look, and found something.
'Written professedly for a paper of miscellaneous intelligence, the Idler dwells on the passing incidents of the day, whether serious or light, and abounds with party and political allusion. Johnson ever surveyed mankind with the eye of a philosopher; but his own easier circumstances would now present the world's aspect to him in brighter, fairer colours. Besides, he could, with more propriety and less risk of misapprehension, venture to trifle now, than when first he addressed the public.'
Sounds a bit like how some of us approach blogging. Especially the miscellaneous intelligence part. My intelligence seems particularly filled with miscellany at this point. More so than I’d care to admit.
And I’m doing things a bit backward here. Starting with the brighter, fairer colours and moving toward a bit of propriety. Well, as best I can. My suspicion is that as my writing gets more respectable elsewhere, I’ll continue to use this medium to say things a bit more thought-provoking and questioning.
I intend to continue with the idling, as well. Just not too much. I have things to accomplish, after all.