A Poetry Squawk
By Sarah Sarai
Author of Geographies of Soul and Taffeta
The hammock of the Indolent Books logo beckoned to me when it was a mere twinkle in a graphic designer’s eye. It boldly and with cheek represents my revered indolence, an overlooked and perhaps abused state of being.
Indolence, as a concept, is a vote against capitalism, with its need for ever expanding growth and ever expanding earnings. Both come at the peril of the workers. Give me a pennywhistle (but first, tell me what it is), a book, an iced tea, and a hammock and I will have no desire to move the world, as opposed to Archimedes, who told a reporter at Brainy Quotes, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” As you probably know, he was a mathematician, engineer, physicist in Sicily, in the 200s BC.
Good for Archimedes. I have no problem with the innately inventive, a category that includes all style of creative writers and creative anythingelsers — cooks, mechanics, physicians. If it works, when it works, a go-get-em nature is grand. When it ends up with an overwhelming majority of people who work hard with little personal gain, then nah.
We who are indolent are spiritually evolved. We see the tiny spin of light each of us is, the speck among specks among specks. We who are indolent believe we are all bits of a divinity and that that is, or should be, enough. Alas, it’s not always enough. We struggle with understanding our destinies. Should we do more, given that, like all humans, we have talents and inclinations. Instead of a lever, Archimedes could offer us a level with its three bubbles of balance.
Paul Lafargue, a well-known socialist in nineteenth century France, wrote with humor about indolence’s poor cousin, laziness. Here’s a bit “The Right to be Lazy.” Please note: Lafargue and his wife, finding themselves helpless from old age and penury, committed suicide together. Even more notable: LaFargue’s wife was Laura Marx, Karl Marx’s daughter.
Weigh your options.
From “The Right to be Lazy”:
DOES any one believe that, because the toilers of the time of the mediæval guilds worked five days out of seven in a week, they lived upon air and water only, as the deluding political economists tell us? Go to! They had leisure to taste of earthly pleasure, to cherish love, to make and to keep open house in honor of the great God, Leisure. In those days, that morose, hypocritically Protestant England was called “Merrie England.” Rabelais, Quevedo, Cervantes, the unknown authors of the spicy novels of those days, make our mouths water with their descriptions of those enormous feasts, at which the peoples of that time regaled themselves, and towards which “nothing was spared.” Jordaens and the Dutch school of painters have portrayed them for us, in their pictures of jovial life. Noble, giant stomachs, what has become of you? Exalted spirits, ye who comprehended the whole of human thought, whither are ye gone? We are thoroughly degenerated and dwarfed. Tubercular cows, potatoes, wine made with fuchsine, beer from saffron, and Prussian whiskey in wise conjunction with compulsory labor have weakened our bodies and dulled our intellects. And at the same time that mankind ties up its stomach, and the productivity of the machine goes on increasing day by day, the political economists wish to preach to us Malthusian doctrine, the religion of abstinence and the dogma of work!