Sometimes the emails I get have a big effect on me. But none had a greater impact than the series I received from GW in late 2001. Here are some fragments from them:
Chris: Your essays on idleness are wonderful, and convincing.
It is a refreshing perspective, and totally in synchrony with anti-work essays on Claws. I wonder how the world would change, if children were given a glimpse of this perspective early in their careers! How many of us would be, rather than do! Keep the essays alive and broadcast them far and wide.
What you have written is profound and unique, and you are destined to remembered for your insight. I read it, and was shocked that I had never heard it before, from any direction. I love anarchy, but your emphasis is different and beautiful.
Your theory is better than that of Marx or Mises. Every once in a while someone comes along with a new perspective on something that, in retrospect, is obvious. I suspect that you are the one. The whole thrust of the world is in the wrong direction, and that is what you recognize. Keep your theory out there.
My replies were all of an aw-shucks-thanks variety. But GW's emails had a tremendous impact on me. For the first time, I felt that someone had understood and appreciated Idle Theory enough to to say a few things about it that I actually felt myself. For, when I first began to piece the idea together, I also had been "shocked that I had never heard it before, from any direction." And, given all the initial doubts I had about it, it was also for me "a new perspective on something that, in retrospect, is obvious." As I see it, Idle Theory is sort of obvious, and I remain astonished that it's not out there already. And, from what I've read of them, I also think that the "theory is better than that of Marx or Mises." But then, I would think that, wouldn't I? As for being "remembered" and being the one who "every once in a while comes along", well, that's for other people to judge.
In the days when I was first putting the Idle Theory website together, I wondered if anyone would understand it. I had never managed to explain the idea to anyone, and I couldn't see that this new exposition would do any better. But GW's emails convinced me that at least one person out there had grasped what it was about. And that meant that other people could and would understand.
At the time I got GW's emails, I had rather lapsed from adding much to Idle Theory. In part that was because the big effort of writing in 1998 had left me rather drained. I felt that I'd done my bit to try to get this idea into the world. Nobody had understood, and nobody would understand; but I had at least tried to set out a stall for it.
But after I got GW's emails, I began thinking differently. People could understand, and people did understand. And I felt that I should return to Idle Theory and develop it some more. Within a month I'd got a new hit counter to replace the website's old lapsed counter, added a site search facility, and got it a domain name - idletheory.info -. And I started on the never-been-but-should've-been-performed chore of reviewing and editing Idle Theory. And I started writing new essays, mostly with a view to filling what seemed the biggest gaps in the idea.
None of this would have happened but for GW's emails. Without them, I'd probably not have done anything much. GW's emails woke me up.
Author: Chris Davis
First created: 2003