The Devil’s workshop

For the Greeks, idleness and repose were the highest aspirations. Only in states of inaction, free from the needs and workings of the body, could the mind be free to reflect and introspect on life and one’s surroundings. In marked contrast, modern life frowns upon those that do not have a full set of pursuits to engage their time with. Every weekday must be filled with professional activities while every weekend must play host to a wide range of pastimes. Even the objective of relaxation must be pursued via activity – watching, listening, talking, and so forth.

The implicit purpose of this might be construed as the avoidance of delving too deep into the state of life as one lives it. As long as one is constantly occupied, why would one question the foundations of a society that may benefit only a few at the expense of the masses? More perniciously, there would be no doubting the necessity of an imposed lifestyle that may be well worse than optimal. But I believe there’s a sense in which this has become a stable equilibrium. To not be of the same mould can lead to social isolation and censure, especially in societies where social interaction revolves around “doing something together”.

This also probably plays a part in the proliferation of therapy, since reflection can no longer happen on our own time. Neither in the self or in the group is there any outlet to think substantially about our lives, our purpose, our faults, our experiences.

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