IdleTheory Quotations

Only the freewheeling artist-explorer, non-academic, scientist-philosopher, mechanic, economist-poet who has never waited for patron-starting and accrediting of his co-ordinate abilities holds the prime initiative today.
(Buckminster Fuller, slightly misquoted)

Also it is commonly believed that happiness depends upon leisure; for we occupy ourselves so that we may have leisure, just as we make war so that we may live in peace.
(Aristotle. Ethics. book X,vii)

The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise.
(ECCLESIASTICUS ch. 38 v. 24 )

It is not wise to rush about. Controlling the breath causes strain. If too much energy is used, exhaustion follows. This is not the way of the Tao. Whatever is contrary to the Tao will not last long.

Id quod est praestantissium maximeque optabile omnibu sanis et bonis et beatis, cum dignitate otium.

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
(Gospel of St. Matthew ch.6 v.28 )

For Thou, being the Good, needing no good, art ever at rest, because Thou Thyself art Thy rest. And what man will teach man to understand this? Or what angel, an angel? Or what angel, a man?
(St Augustine. Confessions)

The perfect state, the summum bonum, is Play. In play, life expresses itself in its fullness. God's life is play. Adam fell when his play became serious business .
(Jacob Boehme)

All intellectual improvement arises from leisure.
(Samuel Johnson)

Man plays only when he is man in the full meaning of the word; and he is wholly man when he plays.

I am the laziest man in the world.
I invented all those things to save myself from toil.
(Benjamin Franklin)

If work were so pleasant, the rich would keep it for themselves.
(Mark Twain)

Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day's toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish.
(John Stuart Mill. Principle of Political Economy. Book IV Ch.VI 1848)

I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of WORK, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in the organised diminution of work.
(Bertrand Russell. In Praise of Idleness)

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
(W. H. Davies)

Man is about to be deprived of a great pole - work routine. The nightmare of capitalist society is unemployment; the nightmare of cybernetic society will be employment.
(John Fowles. The Aristos)

There cannot be any true leisure until all the world possesses it equally.
(John Fowles. The Aristos)

History's political and economic power structures have always abhorred 'idle people' as potential troublemakers. Yet nature never abhors seemingly idle trees, grass, snails, coral reefs, and clouds in the sky.
(Buckminster Fuller. Critical Path 1982)

We find all the no-life-support-wealth-producing people going to their 1980s jobs in their cars and buses, spending trillions of dollars' worth of petroleum daily to get to their no-wealth-producing jobs. It doesn't take a computer to tell you that it will save both Universe and humanity trillions of dollars a day to pay them handsomely to stay at home.
(Buckminster Fuller. Critical Path 1982)

I don't think there is, or ever again can be, a cure for unemployment. I propose that unemployment is not a disease, but the natural, healthy functioning of an advanced technological society.
(The Rich Economy (The Illuminati Papers) Robert Anton Wilson, 1980)

A worker is a part-time slave.
(The Abolition of Work. Bob Black, 1985)

As soon as you're born, they make you feel small
By giving you no time instead of it all.
(John Lennon. Working Class Hero)

Saving nickels, saving dimes,
Working till the sun don't shine
Looking forward to happier times
On Blue Bayou
I'm going back some day, come what may
To Blue Bayou
Where you sleep all day, and the catfish play
On Blue Bayou.
(Roy Orbison. Blue Bayou)

In the industrial age, when productivity increased dramatically with the new technologies, millions of people organized to say that we want to participate in the gains we brought about. That has always meant a shorter work week, better pay, more benefits, increased leisure. My question to any politician who might be watching this interview is: why should we expect anything less of the information age than we did of the industrial age? Why is it that I'm probably the only person in this debate who is saying that labour-saving technologies are to free us? That's been the whole promise of modern science and technology - to free us from toil. The options are quite clear: we can reduce the work week or the work force, we can either have leisure or unemployment.
(Economist Jeremy Rifkin - BBC TV, 17 jan 1996)

Only the idle can be at the complete disposal of chance." (André Breton)

That work is not hard that pays enough to release us from it. (SPANISH PROVERB)

The labor we delight in physics (cures) pain. (SHAKESPEARE, MACBETH, 1606)

The order of things should be reversed; the seventh day should be the day of toil...and the other six his Sabbath of the affections and the soul, in which to range this widerspread garden, and drink in the soft influences and sublime revelations of Nature... (THOREAU, A WEEK ON THE CONCORD AND MERRIMACK RIVERS, 1847)

To crush, to annihilate a man utterly, to inflict on him the most terrible of punishments so that the most ferocious murderer would shudder at it and dread it beforehand, one need only give him work of an absolutely completely useless and irrational character. (FEODOR DOSTOEVSKY, 1862)

There is no doubt that if the human race is to have their dearest wish and be free from the dread of mass destruction they could have, as an alternative, what many of them might prefer, namely, the swiftest expansion of material well-being that has ever been within their reach, or even within their dreams. By material well-being I mean not only abundance but a degree of leisure for the masses such as has never before been possible in our mortal struggle for life. The majestic possibilities ought to gleam and be made to gleam before the eyes of the toilers in every land and ought to inspire the actions of all who bear responsibility for their guidance.
(Sir Winston Churchill at the opening of Parliament, November 1953)

"Work is not always required...there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected." -- George Macdonald

Tomorrow do thy worst, I have lived today. (John Dryden)

All that is left to us by tradition is mere words. It is up to us to find out what they mean. (ibn al-'Arabi, Tarjuman al-Ashwaq)

"Idle and inattentive." (Schoolteacher's report on Isaac Newton.)

These days I barely have time to read the ingredients on a food label let alone the likes of Chomsky (Taking Liberties comment)

In producers, loafing is productive; and no creator, of whatever magnitude, has ever been able to skip that stage, any more than a mother can skip gestation. (Jacques Barzun)

A riddance am I asking of the gods
From these my toils, this watch a whole year long,
Which plying, as I lie, propped on my arm
Upon the Atridae's house-top, like a dog,
(Aeschylus, Agamemnon)

Idle Theory

Last Edited: April 2008