The idler is, contrary to most dullards’ ideas, not a pathetic slacker with his bum potted in the couch nervily flicking channels of thought of “Should I, Should I not.” He’s, to paraphrase Henry Miller, deliciously detached from the constraints of civilization but fully engaged in daily life.
He is mixing the mandarin and the demotic. Seeking emancipation rather than freedom. And as Henry Miller wrote: “From the time you wake up until the moment you go to bed it’s all a lie, all a sham and a swindle.” And he is fucking dead on, smack dab on the erogenous zone that we all wish we could feel.
I love how Miller (yes, him again, because he is to my slowpoke mind, the American flâneur) wrote this about being idle, or better yet, at the pulse of life: “A beautiful nap this afternoon that put velvet between my vertebrae.” Ahhh.
Work is the opposite of creation, which is simply play, or as Amis writes, literature is “reason at play.” And I play , every day, at least, at being omnipotent, creating a tiny world of words where others can also play.
Writers are the great tricksters, the idlers who always find time to have a thought solidify into a word and a word sensuously couple with a thought, and only when I am writing can I create this place where the rituals are my own, not someone else’s artifice in the “monkey world of human values.”
I abhor the Protestant work ethic that values hard work at another’s expense over the salvation of your own soul. I prefer a pagan work ethic, which is: let the civilized build there new worlds while you hide out in the wilds, making a conscious living with few possession beyond love, honesty, truth, and beauty, purposefully sitting still while everything around you goes to rack and ruin, because when civilization is busy destroying itself on the illusion of progress, you can actually go about living without the need of a backdrop because the heart needs no sounding board to beat.
And I certainly want to do more of this: “Listen to the sound of your own psychic bowel.” I really have to read the Self. I think he and I might share the same vintage.
Now I shall end with Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Ah yes, the mob who considers themselves above the idler may want to seriously consider their paltry place in this ever-changing world. What they think of as success was brewed out of failure, and as heady as they get, the quicker they’ll get addicted to the spirit of the self, megalomaniacs drowning in their own vomit.
Only if you fail can you succeed. Those who simply succeed are riding a nonexistent wave to a desert island. I’d rather ride the turbulent wave of failure that comes crashing down on the bounty of solitude. And I think that solitude, considered by many as failure, is the triumph of humanity. I want to live apart but be in deeper with life than the six-foot hole we all end up in.