L is for Lazy

By: Joshua Glenn
April 23, 2012

A series of 26 posts featuring excerpts from Joshua Glenn’s The Idler’s Glossary (Biblioasis, 2008) and The Wage Slave’s Glossary (Biblioasis, 2011). Both books were coauthored by Mark Kingwell, who contributed entertaining philosophical-critical essays on the subjects of idling and wage slavery; and both were wittily illustrated and designed by the cartoonist Seth.


This term [from the German for “slack”] has largely replaced the native English terms “slack” and “idle” as the preferred way to express the concept “averse to labor.” But we must distinguish, with Aristotle, between a deficiency in will and spirit (aergia), on the one hand, and abstention from worldly activities in order that one may be more meditative (skhole), on the other. The former leads to laziness, the latter to idleness. Paul Lafargue’s 1883 tract The Right to Be Lazy urges the working class to demand a three-hour day in the name of skhole, not aergia.


ALSO: Alienation | Big Rock Candy Mountains | Corporation | Dawdle | Employee of the Month | Flazy | Greybearding | Hobo | Inemuri | Jack of All Trades | Knock Off Work | Lazy | Micawberish | Nobbing It | Onboarding | Pink Slip | Quitter | Robot | Stakhanovite | Time and Motion Study | Unemployment | Volupté | Wage Slavery | Xerox Subsidy | Yakuza | Zero Drag


Idleness, Read-outs

What do you think?

  1. Note that the Twitter hashtag #lazyweb uses “lazy” in the Lafarguean sense. Twitter’s #lazyweb hashtag lets you outsource your questions to the wider web of Twitter users and get answers, presumably even from people outside your own network. The idea is that you’re too lazy to do a Google query — but in fact, you’re asking people instead of an algorithm — which is not lazy; it’s communalist.

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