Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Idleness is, I think, our greatest passion. Industry is, surely, a disease. It is an itch upon our souls. A lolling rest is what best suits us; a sated, head drooping, floppy-bodied decumbency. So why am I not taking advantage of my freedom and lolling in some corner in worship to this ideal (or idleal, you might say, but this tongue-challenge may be too much effort for a true idler) why, you might ask, am I sat defiantly upright at the computer tapping away in a frenzy when I could be lazing in any number of positions elsewhere? Well, I’ve caught the disease. I’ve got the itch. I’m a sufferer of the animating impulse that drags our yawning souls from rest and pokes them into action, shoots at their feet to make them dance, showers them in itching powder that causes an itch so dire that it can only be relieved by a most furious industry. So here I am, writing. Un-idled.

But not for long, I feel my gut murmur, not for long will you toil. No? I question. But I can’t help it. Even when I resign myself to a stretch of relaxation, a period of placid inaction, the itching begins and how smart a lash that whip can give. No sooner have I leaned back on a sofa, gazed off out the window and let my eyelids do what they will, than the distant sound of a conceptual police siren can be heard, buzzing about my innards. These police live in my psyche and it is their chief aim to keep me as busy as possible. This, they believe, if they can be said to believe anything, is the finest state for a body to be in: industry, toil, labour, action. Couched in the depths of my unconscious they rest their bones when I am in toil, or they sit about playing cards in the station kitchen, brewing endless teas and coffees, discussing the weather in monotones of wagging insouciance.

But when I try my hand at this, when I even think of such loose behaviour, lights and buzzers begin to flash and whirr on their dashboard and they drop their cards mid-hand, leaping up into sanctimonious alert. Drinks are left to steam themselves out of desirability, hammocks hang inert, and cards fade in the cultural vacuum of ruler-less splay. Into their cars they leap and out of the murk they drive, out into my conscious mind they venture with powerful flairs, megaphones and placards, with harpoons, guns and grenades. They’ll do anything to wake me from my stupor and prick me into action. A modern day Gulliver I have become, whose Lilliputian superego plagues him from the inside in systematic formation. A single ant is as ineffectual as a single member of this constabulary. But just like ants, these officers of my psyche can get to work with marvellous potency when they work in concert. It is unbearable. I feel like the captain of a ship whose deceased mutinous crew have, ghost like, inhabited his body and are driving him which way they will.

So I don’t let myself idle much. It keeps them happy. Instead, I urge myself on. I whip myself inwardly, thrash my hide viciously, lest I become complacent and start to linger or loiter over some trifle. Yes, I beat myself up. As the anarchists like to joke “Help the police: Beat yourself up”. They may joke about it but people do it. People really do. From the inside.

And time passes without a care in the world for what it passes. It simply strides on. It does shock me sometimes when I consider it. Time just keeps on ticking and tocking and moving forwards. There’s no stopping it. So staunch and unstoppable. It plows on without asking for or needing anyone’s permission, without any support. Whether you condemn it or make it an object of your worship, it trundles along like some massive whale whose immensity will not allow for any change in momentum. If you pay no attention whatsoever, on it goes.

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