The Pursuit of Laziness: An Idle Interpretation of the by Pierre Saint-Amand

By Pierre Saint-Amand

We consider the Enlightenment as an period ruled via rules of development, creation, and industry--not an period that favourite the lax and indolent person. yet used to be the Enlightenment purely in regards to the unceasing development of self and society? The Pursuit of Laziness examines ethical, political, and fiscal treatises of the interval, and divulges that the most important eighteenth-century texts did locate worth in idleness and nonproductivity. Fleshing out Enlightenment considering within the works of Denis Diderot, Joseph Joubert, Pierre de Marivaux, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Jean-Siméon Chardin, this ebook explores idleness in all its guises, and illustrates that laziness existed, now not as a vice of the wretched, yet as an exemplar of modernity and a resistance to ideals approximately advantage and utility.

Whether within the dawdlings of Marivaux's journalist who not on time and procrastinated or within the matters of Chardin's work who extremely joyful in suspended, playful time, Pierre Saint-Amand indicates how eighteenth-century works supplied a powerful argument for laziness. Rousseau deserted his prior protection of work to pursue reverie and botanical walks, Diderot emphasised a parasitic technique of resisting paintings in an effort to unencumber time, and Joubert's little-known posthumous Notebooks significantly hostile the significant philosophy of the Enlightenment in a quest to infinitely delay work.

Unsettling the obdurate view of the eighteenth century as an age of frenetic industriousness and hard work, The Pursuit of Laziness plumbs the texts and pictures of the time and uncovers planned yearnings for slowness and recreation.

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This is how.  . Suddenly, the attack begins, and there is trouble; the wind blows and catches them at the left ear. Quickly they duck, writhe, seek out a hundred different postures in aid of this miserable side insulted by the wind. (pp. 193–194) The Spectator places himself at the heart of the inclement weather. His observation records the jarring of hearts, the dis[27] Ch a pt er 1 composure of fellow human beings. Marivaux takes it further: he sends his subjects whirling in a vortex. ” Thus, Marivaux’s tableau is never still but, like a barometer of the occasional, follows the vagaries of time: “What an unhappy state!

Marivaux gives a name to these objects, these occasions for lightweight thought: he calls them “trifles” (bagatelles; p. 138). The supple imagination slips readily from the weighty to the frivolous, from the serious to the laughable. What is essential is the meeting of thought and happenstance, the primacy of the object. In his journals, Marivaux adheres to the letter of the expression: “matter [19] Ch a pt er 1 for reflection” or, as he says in his own terms, “matter of reflection” (p. 117). The object is what “exercises” (p.

He criticizes all disciplinary devices, such as etiquette with its manners dictated by “convention,” and the straitjacket of self-scrutiny: “one must keep an eye on oneself ” (p. 323), he remarks. Likewise, his sidekick in the narrative, his companion in penury—another Pantalon of laziness—flees the military establishment. Unskilled in musketry and disinclined to obedience, he chooses desertion and renounces the occupation of soldier. He explains his refusal of discipline thus: “one must obey a captain with a will of his own, one is better off following one’s own desires rather than someone else’s” (p.

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