Daily Riches: The Modern Prejudice Against Joy (Friedrich Nietzsche and Tom Hodgkinson)

“Even now one is ashamed of resting, and prolonged reflection almost gives people a bad conscience. One thinks with a watch in one’s hand, even as one eats one’s midday meal while reading the latest news of the stock market; one lives as if one ‘might miss out on something.’ ‘Rather do anything than nothing’: this principle, too, is merely a string to throttle culture and good taste.  …Virtue has come to consist of doing something in less time than someone else. …How frugal our educated—and uneducated—people have become regarding ‘joy!’ How they are becoming increasingly suspicious of all joy! More and more, work enlists all good conscience on its side; the desire for joy already calls itself a ‘need to recuperate’ and is beginning to be ashamed of itself. ‘One owes it to one’s health’—that is what people say when they are caught on an excursion into the country. Soon we may well reach the point where people can no longer give into the desire for a vita contemplativa (that is, taking a walk with ideas and friends) without self-contempt and a bad conscience.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Well, formerly, it was the other way around: it was work that was afflicted with the bad conscience. A person of good family used to conceal the fact that he was working if need compelled him to work. Slaves used to work, oppressed by the feeling that they were doing something contemptible. ‘Nobility and honour are attached solely to otium [leisure] and bellum [war],’ that was the ancient prejudice. Nietzsche’s point is: if we managed to remove our collective guilt about enjoying ourselves, then the culture of only taking time off when we are allowed by some outside force or by some inner self-controller might be damaged. The word leisure, incidentally, comes from the Latin licere, meaning “to be permitted.” We have given responsibility for our free time to others, and we only have ourselves to blame.” Tom Hodgkinson

“And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while:
for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Mark 6:31

Moving From the Head to the Heart

  • You can see the “ancient prejudice” against work. Can you also see the modern prejudice against leisure?
  • Do you feel you need to justify days off? …recreation? …taking a walk? …a nap?
  • Would you rather “do anything than nothing?” Do you keep moving out of a sense of guilt?

Abba, break my obsession with doing and my pride in rejecting joy.

For More: How To Be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek God. I hope you’ll follow/share my blog. Thanks! – Bill

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