In Praise of Refined Laziness

In the opinion that is forged in this connection, laziness has fully attained the growing discredit that has struck work. For a long time erected as a virtue of the bourgeoisie, which manages profit through the union bureaucracies with which it assures the surplus-value of power, the exhaustion of daily labor has eneded up making itself recognized for what it [really] is: an involutive alchemy that transforms the gold of existential richness into a knowledge of lead.

Nevertheless, the esteem that prevails over laziness does not, for all that, cease to suffer from the relationship of a couple that, in the stupid assimilation of the beasts to the most scornful attitude of the human being, persists in hugging the grasshopper and the ant. Whether one wants it or not, laziness lives caught in the trap of work, which it rejects by singing.

When it is a matter of doing nothing, is not the first idea that it happens by itself? Alas, in a society in which we are uprooted from ourselves without respite, how are we to go towards ourselves without any encumbrances? How to install oneself without effort in that state of grace in which the nonchalance of desire no longer reigns?

Isn't everything set in motion, for the best reasons of duty and guilt, so as to trouble the serene leisure of being at peace in one's own company? With justice, George Groddeck[1] perceives in the art of doing nothing the sign of a consciousness that is truly emancipated from the multiple constraints that, from birth to death, make life into a frenzied production of nothingness.

We are so moulded by paradoxes that laziness isn't a subject in which one can simply extend oneself, as nature would invite if however nature could approach the subject without detour.

Work has denatured laziness. It has made it its whore, at the same time that patriarchal power sees in women the repose of the warrior. Work has dressed laziness in its false pretenses, when the morgue of the exploiting social classes identifies laborious activity as the only manual production.

What is it that makes the powerful, the sovereigns, the aristocrats, the high dignitaries (if not the intellectual workers) into workers charged with getting those who have "taken the head" to go to work? This idleness, on which the rich pride themselves and that securlarly nourishes the resentment of the oppressed, appears to me to be quite far from the state of laziness in which the idyllic is offered.

The beautiful ones, lounging around, who adjudge themselves infatuated with nobility, are the look-outs for the least lapse, worried about precedence, attentive to the valets who mask their bad temper and scorn under their servility, that is, when it isn't a question of getting the master to sample as a preliminary the meats that have been seasoned with the evil spells of envy and vengeance. What fatigue [affects] this laziness, and what servitude [is performed] in the constant agreement with a complacency of command!

Can one say of the despot that he arrogates to himself at least the pleasure of being obeyed? Wretched pleasure that he, satisfying himself with the displeasure of others, swallows with the same sourness that he arouses! One will agree that keeping away from despots isn't much of a rest and hardly favors the happy state of doing nothing.

No doubt the man of business, the patron, the bureaucrat does not embarrass himself (beyond his occupation) with a kind of domesticity that is more bothersome than comfortable. I do not know if he seeks solitude from the under-prefect in the fields, but all indications are that he has a greater propensity to diversion than to idleness. Only with difficulty can one break with a rhythm[2] that propels you from the factory to the office, from the office to the stock market, and from the conference-meal to the meal-conference. Time suddenly emptied of its profitable bookkeeping turns into dead time; it hardly exists. It is necessary for one to have lost more than just the moral sense, the sense of saleability, to be able to claim to enter dead time and brazenly install oneself in it.

Laziness passes for sleep, the veritable medical prescription into which one throws oneself every night in a race against the clock. But in a war in which each instant is exposed to the fire nourished by competition, who will dare to raise the white flag at the moment of idleness? We have heard over and over again about the disastrous example of the "delights of Capoue," in which Hannibal (ceding to one doesn't know what spell cast upon him) irremediably lost Rome and the benefits of his conquests.

It is necessary to render oneself to the obvious: in a world where nothing is obtained without the work of force and ruses, laziness is a weakness, a stupidity, a fault, an error in calculation. One only accedes to it by changing universes, that is to say, existence. These things happen.

A bank director, one assures me, found himself ruined, abandoned by all, covered with opprobrium. A corner of the country welcomed him; he cultivated a few vineyards. A gardener, several chickens and the friendship of his neighbors sufficed to meet his needs. He made an astonishing discovery: a sun-set, the glimmering of light in the underbrush, the smell of the wildfowl, the taste of the bread that he kneaded and baked, the songs of those in bed, the troubling physical structure of the orchid, the dreams of the earth at the hours of the dew [la rosee] and the night dew [du serein]. The distaste for an existence passed without knowing who gave him a place in the universe. [Of course] it would still be a question of knowing how to occupy that place.

The road isn't so easy that the exclusion of the world that excludes you from yourself is sufficient to find your place. The poet of the future will not be an unemployed worker.

The unemployed worker most often doesn't belong to himself; he continues to belong to work. What has destroyed him in the alienation of the factory and the office persists in gnawing at him beyond, like the pain of a phantom limb. Not more than the exploiter, the exploited hardly has the chance to unreservedly devote himself to the delights of laziness.

Assuredly there is malice in making the least possible [amount of money] for a boss, in stopping oneself as soon as his back is turned, in sabotaging the rhythms and the machines, in practicing the art of justified absence. Here laziness safeguards health and brings a pleasantly invigorating character to subversion. Laziness breaks the boredom of servitude; it breaks the slogans, it renders the money of its coin to the time that takes eight hours [a day] of life from you and that no salary will allow you to recuperate. With a wild fury, it doubles the minutes stolen by the timekeeper's clock, where the daily itemized statement increases the bosses' [patronal] profit.

Good, but the question remains: which pleasure can one take unreservedly if above all it is implied that one spoils the [pleasure of an]other? You want to be obeyed? This won't happen, and I advance the living proof by escaping from your power, by breaking this power that seems to me, if not eternal, then at least acquired for a long time.

The subversion of ignoble work is a noble task, no doubt, but work doesn't displease you! Here you are, like the master of the look-outs for the valet who stole, loafing around with the look-outs of the master so as to steal better. Laziness doesn't understand such furtiveness. It is necessary to comfort it, as with love. Who is sure the "who lives?" still lives, or [lives] mediocrely?

In addition, what rancor there is in not squandering as dirtily as one would like the hedonism of the exploiters, as mediocre as that is! "While we slave, they fill their bellies," the song says. But, following the example of the promiscuous parish priests who were reproached by the old Puritan anti-clericalism for tipping over into debauchery, wasn't hedonism what the exploiters were better at in their [daily] existence ([that is] if their terror of the exploited didn't condemn them to hasty and secret compulsions)? The privilege of the proletarians to emancipate themselves and to emancipate themselves from the work that pays them a salary and from those who extract surplus-value -- this is precisely to accede to the pleasure of [being] themselves and the world.

Pleasure and its consciousness, whetted to perfection, possesses the science to liberate ourselves from what hinders or corrupts us, and to ask those who learn to love themselves!

What is true of love is true of laziness and its pleasure. We are often far off. A report on the Brasilian peasants who are deprived of land -- while great numbers dwell on fallow land in the hands of owners who only care to guard their property[3] -- exhibits them in a long march of poverty, brandishing crosses, priests at the head, because the Church every day gives them a stew [galimafree] of rice and beans. Following a media-savvy care for objectivity, if not for the laws of montage, at a banquet where they served abundant sausages and sides of lamb the terrestrial owners argued for their rights and protested against the attacks of which they estimated themselves to be the victims.

Of the misery of the frightened notable few and the pity of the dispossessed, one thinks that the former do not take pleasure in their lands because they only have their property [la propriete], and that the latter (from whom pleasure normally escapes) are hardly in the position to enjoy whatever pleasure there is.

The situation is less archaic than it appears. Today Europe sees a bureaucratic class scrape the bottom of capitalism's barrel so as to produce profit in a closed circuit, without investing in new modes of production. And the proletarians -- to whom one has shown that the proletariat no longer exists -- plead their diminished buying-power in the hope that a great charity movement will suppress established society, declining salaries, the rarefaction of useful work, the dismantling of education, public transport, health services, quality agriculture and everything else that doesn't increase the financial mass (through an immediate saleability) that is placed at the service of international speculation.

Henceforth, the only utility recognizable in work will be limited to guaranteeing a salary to the greatest number of people and a surplus-value to the international bureaucratic oligarchy. The former spends [its money] on consumer goods and services of a growing mediocrity, while the latter invests in stock-market speculations that more and more give a parasitical character to the economy [as a whole].

The habit of accepting any kind of work and consuming anything at all is so deeply implanted so as to equilibriate this balance of markets that reigns over destinies like the old and shadowy Divine Providence, which stayed to itself instead of participating in the frenzy that destroyed the universe that, strangely, passed for scandalous.

One of the ministers (billions of whom are devoured by the administrative machine at the instigation of the gigantic apparatus that parasitically feeds upon the production of priority goods), with the agreement of the managers of information, did not fear to denounce the newly privileged people who are the beneficiaries of minimum revenues [trans: see footnote 4, below], retired railroad workers, the beneficiaries of health care, in brief, the people who draw pleasure from their sleep, while the others sleep for a boss whose money never stops working.

That one finds it [this attitude] among proletarians, even the RMIstes[4] in power, secretly acquiescing to the semantic recasting of the words purchased by power, is not the simple effect of herd-like [gregaire] imbecility. It hangs upon laziness such guilt that few dare to reclaim it as a salutary stoppage of time that allows us to recapture ourselves and no longer follow the rut in which the old world is stuck.

Of the social beneficiaries, who would proclaim that he experiences the riches of existence that the majority of people seek where they are not? They have nothing to enjoy in doing nothing, they do not dream of inventing, creating, dreaming or imagining. Most often they are ashamed of being deprived of a stupefying salary, which deprives them of a peace that they make use of without daring to install themselves in it.

Guilt degrades and perverts laziness by inhibiting the state of grace; it strips it of its intelligence. What better occasion than the strikes[5] to suspend the time in which each one runs so as to never be trapped, thereby tiring him or herself out being what he or she finds repugnant and not being what he or she has desired to be, and betting on retreat, sickness and death so as to put an end to his or her fatigue?

A work stoppage must propagate consciousness of laziness, must encourage this salutary repose that saves on the costs of health and sanity. One must only have a little imagination. We cross our arms, the railroad workers say; we instaurate the gratuitousness of time and space, and for your relaxation we now relieve ourselves so as to make the trains run and thereby permit you to travel through all of France without spending any money. You still want to get to the factories and offices? As you wish! Perhaps it will appear to some that laziness is more creative than work.

But no! To avow that the strike is a festival is to insult to those who persist in finding dignity in the slavery of work. In the order of things that governs us, it is necessary that the strike be a kind of curse, like laziness. Regretfully, one breathes a little fresh air before valiantly re-taking the road of corruption and pollution.

We have merited this retreat, the workers sigh. But, in the logic of saleability, what one merits has already been paid off ten times over. Do not say that the retreat offered a refuge for the idleness that decidedly is the least-shared thing in the world.

Do you confuse laziness and fatigue? I do not even speak of the end of a person's life, cynically called active, on which forty years' of daily exhaustion have stamped their cadences so well that life flees on all sides and the days are down-payments [en acompte] in the accounting [comptabilite] of death. The laziness in which suddenly flows the charge of desire, prohibited by forty weekly hours confined to a factory or an office, is only a dismal relief, an acceleration of a delay in catching up, a dog's impulsive response to a suddenly released leash.

In sum, laziness hasn't been treated any better in the past than women have, and one knows too well that our present is nine-tenths burdened by the past. When the power of the male sees in woman the repose of the armed worker (dressed in a white collar or in [blue] over-alls), doesn't this power identify her with laziness? Speaking so as to say nothing, being busy so as to do nothing, she[6] is inferior due to her absence from the economy, she is excluded from the lucrative and salutary Great Work reserved for virile power, that is, if it isn't time [for her] to be a mother and produce children for the factory and military glory.

It is as much a question of the "drudge" (useless and vain) as it is a question of work violating laziness. Exiled, like the unemployed worker, from the machine that shits out saleability, she only obtained from leisure the shadow of her curse. Neither right, nor pleasure, but remorse and sin.

Where to find repose in a laziness that, at worst, is a baseness and, at best, an excuse? Because in the same way that work is identified with force, laziness lowers itself to some kind of morbid weakness. By an inversion of meaning to which the old world is accustomed, laboring exhaustion becomes the sign of health, while happy idleness is a symptom of sickness. Such is the weight of business on a life that doesn't so much demand as remove the frenzy of the action engaged in for all useful and useless ends: it seems that nothing remains in a de-peopled world. Laziness is a nothingness; to lean upon it is to contemplate an abyss and the abyss looks back at you, as Nietzsche assured us.

In is in the logic of things that after having shown that it doesn't possess any existence beyond work, oppression, subversion, guilt, relief and constitutive weakness, the conclusion determines that it is nothing.

Albert Cossery[7] has made a savory description. The Loafers in the Fertile Valley introduces us furtively to a townhouse in which each inhabitant rivals the others in ingeniousness so as to sleep the longest. It is necessary for them to evade the conjurations of the exterior world, to be crafty with the perverse attraction that work sometimes exercises on those who have had the good fortune to be unaware of it. The least that one can say is that the atmosphere is not one of jubilation, nor even enjoyment. A somber ardor presides over the rigorous organization of silence. Anguish grinds [its teeth] between snores. Perhaps this situation births less a possible rupture in the delicate equilibrium of nothing[ness] than the lassitude of laziness.

Because here laziness is only the vanity of a dreamless sleep. It is vengeance against an absent life, a regulation of an existential account that is crafty with death. One claims the right to not be anything in a universe that has already condemned one to nothingness. It is too much or not enough.

There is surely some pleasure in not being in it for anyone, to want for oneself an absolute lucrative nullity, to tranquilly witness one's social uselessness in a world in which an identical result is obtained by an often frenzied activity.

The content of laziness leaves something to be desired. Its inconsistency predisposes it to the manoeuvres that want to turn [things] to account. "There is much more laziness than weakness is letting oneself be governed," La Bruyere remarked.[8]

Among the lethargic there is a propensity to prefer an injustice to disorder. The aids that require the privileges of mental somnolence and laziness -- do they not imply a perfect obedience to the order of things? To pay repose with servitude: here is ignoble work indeed. There is too much beauty in laziness to make it the emolument of political cronyism [clientelisme].

At the gate to a demonstration against the mafia in Palermo, a young man was indignant: "They are crazy! Without the mafia, who will help us?" Islamic religious extremism [integrisme] doesn't act otherwise. To be a larva under the gaze of Allah and in the misery of the world: this smells like the power of business.

If laziness accommodates feebleness, servitude and obscurantism, it doesn't hesitate to enter into the State programs that, forseeing the liquidation of social rights, set up charity organizations that will supply it: a system of mendacity in which [socio-political] demands efface themselves and, it is true, docilely hit the road, that is, if one judges them by the most recent public supplications on the leitmotiv "give us money!"

Business affairs of the Mafia-type, which re-converts the economy in decline, only know how to co-exist with a laziness that is empty of all human meaning.

It is perhaps time to perceive that laziness is the worst and the best of the things according to which it enters into a world in which man is nothing or enters into the perspective in which he wants to be everything. It is quite fitting that laziness has only known an alienated, debased existence, enslaved to interests that are without any desirable relation with the hopes of which it was natural to attribute to it.

How can we be surprised, since it is the same with the being that calls itself human and that spends the best of its time demonstrating that it is less than human? This does not prevent the aspirations or the power of the imaginary by which history does more than supply its cruel realities: to outline the changes as much as the secret desires that summon their wishes.

It is thus that laziness reveals its richness. Has it not founded a universe, elaborated a civilization? The happy countries of the Land of Plenty [Cocagne], in which (without the least effort) the most appetizing plates adorn the tables; in which the beverages are poured in waves in an extravagant diversity; in which (under the cover of a luxuriant nature) the ravishments of love are offered the detour of a thicket.

Among the most peaceful populations of the globe reigns a charming indolence. It suffices to reach out one's hand or open one's mouth to satisfy the demands of taste and pleasure.

In the countries of the Land of Plenty, abundance is natural, kindness is native, harmony is universal. Nothing, from the myth of the Golden Age to [the utopia imagined by] Fourier, has exalted more nobly the dreams of the body and of the earth, the secret and joyous symphonies that compose a reason carefully forewarned about the rationality of laborious tumult, active misery and competitive fantasy.

Is it necessary to uncover the resurgent memory of a far-off epoch, anterior to agrarian civilization, which fertilizes the earth with sweat and blood, then sterilizes it so as to extract [even] more money? The chains of work and warrior competition, which set the rhythm for the danse macabre of market civilization, have painlessly idealized the societies subcontracted to other frightening privileges.

If one can judge by the study of the Magdalenian [archeological] sites, the idyllic vision accommodates itself to collectivities in which the gathering of plants, fishing and a balanced hunting weaves between men, women, the animals, vegetable fecundity and the earth bonds that are less constraining, more egalitarian and more peaceful than agrarian appropriation, in which the exploitation of nature involves the exploitation of man by man.

Nevertheless, each time that the noble [bon] savage has been discovered we recognize that it is necessary to come down a third in the melody of the praise. In matters of exemplary comportments, the "Jivaro" and "Dayak" tribes have the upper hand over the "Trobriand Islanders."

And when the model has rejoiced our hearts, from whence will we draw for a little more nostalgia? There will be no return to the past, that is, if this is not in the irritating sterility of regrets.

The dream of the Land of Plenty is not of this retrograde languor. Strong from its scandalous improbability, the dream wants all the more to insert itself into the field of possibilities. We insist that the luxuriance of nature offers itself to the person who solicits it without the desire to pillage or violate. From it comes (as if come from the depths of history and the individual) the breath of an unextinguishable desire, a harmony between beings and things, so simply present in the air at any time.

The epoch in which the beasts speak, the trees lavish wise advice, and even the objects are animated, lives in the heart of the real for the child. The idler discovers the amazement of indolence's hollows, which confusedly evoke for him prenatal existence, when the motherly [matriciel] universe (the belly of the mother) dispensed love, nourishment and tenderness. "What Basleful conditions," he asks himself, "prevent them from rendering to us according to their vocations as nourishing mothers?"

The lucrative rationality of work has held the question to be nothing and to be no avenue; it knows that, in the happy disposition that cuts it off from the bustling business world, its dream is not denuded of sense and power.

Between itself and the ambient milieu, contemplative insouciance suffices to weave the network of subtle affinities. It perceives a thousand presences in the heart of the herb, the leaves, a cloud, some perfume, a wall, a piece of furniture, a rock. Suddenly, the feeling of being connected to the earth by the intimate veins of life grasps it.

It is in unity with the living, in the religio, of which religion is the inversion, that it links [enchaine] the earth to the heavens and the body to the pastorales of the divine spirit. Opposed to the mystical, exiled from its meaning by the scorn for self, the idler restitutes the materiality of life -- the only one we have -- to the universe in which it creates itself: air, fire, water, earth, minerals, vegetables, animals and humans, all of which have inherited their creative specificity.

Under the apparent languor of the dream, a consciousness awakes that the daily hammering of work excludes from its saleable reality. It has nothing to do with animism, a religious puffiness [boursouflure] in which the spirit attempts to appropriate the elements of the earth as if they weren't self-sufficient. It emanates simply from the utility of which the body at rest reappropriates itself.

So that laziness accedes to its specificity, it isn't sufficient that it refuses the omnipresent will to work; it is necessary that it is for itself and by itself. It is necessary that the body, of which its constitutes one of the privileges, reconquerers itself as the territory of desires, in the manner that lovers perceive it in the moment of love.

The place and moment of desire, this laziness is claimed by lovers according to the heart that is to contrary to the laziness of the heart, which conjures up ordinary social haggling. The sweetness of the meadow, the serenity of the bed, peopling itself with a crowd of wishes formed for happiness and that constraint represses, cripples, decimates, and dresses up in mortified significations.

The Land of Plenty erects itself as a project in the subject: everything comes to he who learns to desire without end. "Do what you want" is an emaciated plant that only asks to grow and embellish itself. The cruelty of insupportable conditions, which we nevertheless tolerate, enjoin us from abandoning it as if we were required by the urgency of not being ourselves, of never being ourselves.

Laziness is pleasure in oneself or it is nothing. Do not hope that it is accorded to you by your your masters or by their gods. One comes to it like a child, by a natural inclination to seek pleasure and to turn aside [tourner] what is contrary to it. It is a simplicity that adults excel at complicating.

Thus might one finish with the confusion that allies the laziness of the body with the mental softening called laziness of the spirit -- as if the spirit wasn't the alienated form of the consciousness of the body.

The intelligence of self that requires laziness is none other than the intelligence of desire, of which the corporeal microcosm has to emancipate itself from work, which has blocked it for centuries.

Because in the crowd of wishes and desires that invade laziness (finally resolved to only be in it for itself), it must know what slips away!

Such is the force of desire when it finds itself in its free state (so to speak) that the illusion gives it the power to change the world in its favor and on the spot. The old magic haunts you more if you don't believe in the recesses [remplis] of consciousness.

"It is a very old belief," Campbell Bonner writes, "that a person instructed in the means of proceeding can put in motion mysterious forces, capable of influencing the will of others and subjecting their emotions to the desires of the operator. These forces can be activated by words, ceremonies performed according to certain rules, and objects invested with an ordained magic power."[9] And Jacob Boehme says, more subtlely: "Magic is the mother of the being of all beings, since it created itself and since it consists in desire. The true magic is not a being; it is desire, the spirit of the being" (Erklarung von sech Punkten).[10]

The 18th century kept a trace of this "laziness that makes the mills turn," evoked by Georges Schehade.[11] A [religious] sect actually supported it: "It is never necessary to work with the hands, but [one must] pray without cease; and if men pray thus, the earth will bear without [agri]culture more fruits than if it was cultivated." (Cited by H. Grundmann, Religiose Bewegungen in Mittelalter, Hildesheim, 1961.)[12]

If the [magical] operation didn't leave tangible proof in history of its efficacity, it is less fitting to incriminate the incompetence of the God to which the Orants addressed themselves or some vicious kind of proceeding, than it is to incriminate the recourse to prayer, because -- by making itself dependant on others with the aim of acceding to an ardently desired independence -- prayer runs counter to its own will and makes so little of its own aspirations.

The universe of desire teems with traps of this type. To have the greatest vigilance, desire mixes itself too much with subjections, prohibitions, repressions and automatisms.

One knows the following Indian [native American?] moral fable. A man once hid in the shadows of a tree reputed to have magic powers. The soil appeared to him slightly soft; he wanted to stretch out more voluptuously and a sumptuous bed appeared. The desire came to him then for an exciting [plantureaux] meal and a table appeared, garnished with the most exquisite meats.

"My happiness would be complete," he dreamed, "if I had by my side a gracious young woman, ready to fill my desires to the brim." A young woman soon emerged and responded to his love.

Little used to such constancy in happiness, he couldn't keep himself from an irrational fear. Fearing the loss in an instant of such a perfect fortune, he imagined that a tiger might come out of the woods. A tiger burst forth and broke the nape of his neck.

One desire can hide within another, with a contrary meaning.

Laziness must learn that it must not fear anything, especially itself.

So much effort to unreservedly be one's own master. It is not that we must make great detours, but more simply not surrendering easily to tormented spirits. The childhood of art is only reached through the art of becoming a child again. Denaturation has made great progress, affirming a certain laziness by savoring "the Lizard," the song by Bruant,[13] and his immortal lyric "I can not work, I am always learning." He adds: one has so well placed us in the disposition to work that doing nothing today requires an apprenticeship.

At a moment of rising unemployment, teaching laziness is sufficiently seductive if no one can cultivate a delicate, particular and personal science without the help of others.

No one other than oneself can assure one's happiness (and more so with one's unhappiness). It proceeds from desire, like the materia prima from which the alchemist tries to extract the philosopher's stone. Both have their own depths and one can only extract from what one finds. On the other hand, everything is in the refining.

Laziness in the crude state is like a nut that one eats without removing the shell. One has chosen to save it from the ordinary corruptions of work, guilt, relief and servitude, because it is still necessary to taste it for its greatest pleasure. To render it to the natural movement that will make it become what it is, a moment of pleasure in self, a creation, in sum.

Dependence on laborious happiness, shadowed more than emphasized by the ephemeral, and stolen on the sly, has stripped us of the experiences of effort and grace. Authentic pleasures are neither the fruit of a caprice of chance or the gods, nor compensation for work (for which they would only be the breathless respiration). They give themselves such as we are able to take them. The joy that they heap upon us is that with which they approach us.

Perhaps this is the Great Work of which the alchemists undertook the patient and passionate quest every day: the stubborness of the desire to strip oneself of what is corrupting, to ceaselessly refine until this grace can transmute into invigorating gold the lead of misery, death and boredom.

When laziness no longer nourishes the desire to satisfy itself, we will enter into a civilization in which man is no longer the product of work that produces the inhuman(e).

Raoul Vaneigem[14]

[1] A German physician and psychoanalyst (1866-1934).

[2] Cf. Henri Lefebvre, Elements de rythmanalyse: introduction a la connaissance des rythmes, Syllepse-Periscope, 1992. Two chapters from this book appear in English translation in Henri Lefebvre, Writings on Cities, Blackwell, 1996.

[3] The French here is la propriete, which means both property and propriety, "that which is proper."

[4] Beneficiaries of the Revenue minimum d'insertion (RMI), created in 1988. Also known as RMIstes.

[5] French railroad workers were out on strike for several months at the end of 1995. Note: Vaneigem's father, Paul, had been a militant railroad worker in his day.

[6] Please note that, in French, both laziness (la paresse) and women (la femme) are feminine nouns.

[7] An Egyptian-born, French-speaking author, born in 1913.

[8] Jean de la Bruyere (1645-1696), a writer moralist.

[9] See Studies in Magical Amulets, University of Michigan, 1950.

[10] German mystic (1575-1624). Vaneigem comments upon Boehme's notion of "sensual language" in The Revolution of Everyday Day (1967).

[11] A Lebanese poet and playwright, born in 1905.

[12] Concerning the interest of the members of the Situationist International (Raoul Vaneigem, Guy Debord et al) in the "heresy" of "never working," see Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces on a Cigarette: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (1989).

[13] Aristide Bruant (1851-1925), French singer and songwriter.

[14] Perhaps laziness caused Vaneigem to fail to mention Paul Lafargue's famous text, Droit a la paresse ("The Right to Be Lazy"), published 1883.

(Written by Raoul Vaneigem as a contribution to the volume Laziness, published in 1996 by Editions du Centre Pompidou as part of "The Capital Sins" series. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! October 2006. All footnotes by the translator.)

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