Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drinking the Mortal Brew: How Do You Afford Your Rock 'n' Roll Lifestyle?

"The leisure time of most men numbs them: activity drives them mad."- Epicurus, 5th Vatican Saying

Let me just put a big disclaimer here at the beginning of this piece: I'm no puritan. In fact, by the standards of many folks, I'm probably quite the deviant: Atheist. Welfare state liberal.Overweight. Casual drinker. Probably around a 2 on the Kinsey Scale. A Woody Allen fan.

Any one of those things are enough to get me burned at the stake in certain states. All of them put together limit my choices of residency considerably.

So, when I talk about the ways in which a person might prefer to spend their off time, don't think I'm coming at you like I just stepped off the Mayflower.

The truth is, this Vatican saying stings me a little bit, because I realize that in many cases, I'm the guy Epicurus is talking about.

While I'm not a glutton when it comes to food, I think I'm something a little bit worse; I don't overeat because I just can't get enough of a good thing, I overeat because--for some reason--I have a blind urge to consume. I am the same way with information. I take in way too much of it. I don't know why. The same demon that drives me to Wendy's to get a frosty after work also drives me to hit up Wikipedia at least a handful of times a day.

And so it goes for so many of our modes of unwinding: drinking and using drugs to excess, meaningless sexual encounters, time wasted on our knees in church, or standing in line at the buffet, ready to load up that plate a second time...

Do Americans suck at downtime because we have too much of it and are spoiled, or is it because the phrase 'Welfare State' is still considered a curse word in much of the country, and the concepts of self-maintenance and certain things being 'ends unto themselves' are completely foreign to us?

I don't know the answer to this question, but I am aware that I could probably benefit from doing a few crunches.

Hmm. I wonder what Wikipedia has to say about that.


Lodo Grdzak said...

How to pass time is an age-old question. The powers that be want to keep us so busy we have no time to think about or consider our condition. And when hundreds of thousands--if not millions of human monkeys are involved; its probably important that they do. Gotta keep that economy humming--just ask Mubarak. So when we do have free time, we're unprepared for how to deal w/ it or use it.

As a bit of an aside, Don Delillo once described addiction as "giving yourself up to time," which always struck me as truthful.

Spencer Troxell said...

One of the great tragedies is that we make it unnecessarily difficult to get to know ourselves (and by extension, each other).

The Delillo quote works for me.

White Noise was a great book. I should read more of his stuff.

the elegant ape said...

Everyone has to have something. A zen buddist has to have nothing. A lot of people have to make sure they got it as long as other people don't. It is part of the human makeup to fill a need.
"every squirrel got to get his nut."

Spencer Troxell said...

The American way.

Lodo Grdzak said...

That quote's from Underworld, which I recall liking a lot. Delillo's a themes guy, by which I mean he's about ideas more than creating character. He could write 10-20 page essays about his topics which would probably be as effective and entertaiing as his fiction. That said, Libra and White Noise were hugely influential; and Mao II was a very interesting, deep novel. One of his best, and certainly one of the most thought-provoking things I've read.

Willie Y said...

I like my stuff, but on your death bed stuff don't mean shit.