American Idle: How Fear and Anger Drive Us To Our Fallen Work

Dear CF,

[Opening insult framed in sexual terms that broadcasts author’s failure to properly express anger:] Those radio guests can suck my boob.

[Agreement plus fake announcement of topic]: I’m with you: anger and fear, weirdly understood as alienating or paralyzing emotions, are no such thing—if anything, they’re over-activating. Without anger, fear and their cousins discomfort and desire, nothing would ever get done.

[Facile examination of social objectives:] ‘Course, this is a militantly capitalist take on what exactly it is that a society is supposed to do. Conquer nations? Propagate the species? Provide decent transportation? Eastern philosophy interests me in its determinedly unworldly focus: if nirvana is the elimination of desire (o happy goal!), why would anyone build anything?

[Acknowledgment of bias that effectively neuters all that precedes and follows:] (Full disclosure: I’m writing you from my time-share in the Unmotivated, Unfearing and Unangry Doldrums, so I know whereof I speak. But I confess to also vacationing in Unenlightenedland.)

Idleness [a.k.a. Jerry-rigged Transition to Give You a Break and Create a Pleasing If Deceptive Sense of Progress]

Slate has been running a series called “The Idle Parent” celebrating the delights of leisure, especially spontaneous and unforced interactions, for parents and children alike.

[Don’t Be Fooled–Marriage and Kids Will Suck Out Your Soul:] Seems like a sensible approach to child-rearing—one that might soften the apocalyptic overtones of pregnancy and marriage by suggesting that people needn’t subordinate their entire intellectual and emotional selves to the needs of a mewling infant. Which might, in turn, counteract the fear of commitment that plagues the unmarried Mongol hordes who suspect (rightly, insofar as the culture defines these things) that both marriage and parenthood irrevocably castrate the self.

Idleness has a place. An important place. Even—as I’ll get to in a minute—an Edenic place. Milton’s Adam might be the very first Idle Parent.

[The Autobiographical Problem That Motivated This Whole Faux-Philosophical Post:] Read more of this post