Tuesday, February 4

In Praise of "Idleness"

Anything that takes me away from myself, that makes me forget myself, it cannot be good. So when recently somebody asked me, How is it that you are not doing anything (i had been sitting quietly in my chair for a long time), i told her:


You are wrong and i am not not doing anything; in fact, i know exactly what i am not doing. I am not smoking (and if you knew what concentrations of will are required for the purpose, you would not marvel at my being “idle”); i am not watching the television or surfing the Internet or reading the newspaper (among other things, they as a rule inspire in me emotions i no longer care for); i am not speaking when i should shut up; i am not picking up a book to read, out of habit and because i have nothing better to do, acquiring a lot of useless knowledge, which i soon forget, anyway; above all, i am not doing something just for the sake of doing it and because the world is of the opinion — verily it’s called a disease — that anyone with plenty of time on his hands is somehow less than him who has none (i.e. who is always busy.)

Even at that hour when the grey sky of St. Petersburg is shrouded in total darkness and all its race of officials have dined and sated the...