Monday, November 2, 2009

Idleness so called

Idleness so called, which does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal not recognised in the dogmatic formularies of the ruling class, has as good a right to state its position as industry itself.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, from An Apology For Idlers

Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy.
- from Slacker

I start to fear for the world when I think about eternity.
- from Woyzeck

I was delighted to stumble upon Stevenson's Apology not too long after finishing the head-spinning double feature of Woyzeck and Slacker at home on DVD.  Stevenson is one of my favorite writers and I was happy to grab a couple of collections of his essays for cheap at the Ithaca Book Sale.

Slacker and Woyzeck are very different films, but share some commonalities. 

One is a seemingly loose string of character profiles held together by a vision of dignity for each one.  The other is a sad and comical examination of a singular man with a clear conscience.  

Both share playful philosophical underpinnings that celebrate the dignity of man opressed by social constructs designed to rob every man of that inherent dignity.  Both films are about redeeming time because the days are evil.

Slacker, in particular, is an expression of the merits of idleness, so called.  Woyzeck goes far to show the comic dangers of enslaving oneself to anything.

It's important to note that neither Stevenson nor Linklater are celebrating slothfulness, but instead advocating for a very specific creative activity that is profitable apart from societal recognition as work.  Herzog gives us a complimentary portrait of a man working to absurd ends.  My long "chore" post attempted to occupy this same territory, but my thoughts are barely coherent compared to the pure offerings of these three great works of reflective art.

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