More than ever before, we live in a culture that excoriates inactivity and demonizes idleness. Work, connectivity and a constant flow of information are the cultural norms, and a permanent busyness pervades even our quietest moments. Little wonder so many of us are burning out.
In a culture that tacitly coerces us into blind activity, the art of doing nothing is disappearing. Inactivity can induce lethargy and indifference, but is also a condition of imaginative freedom and creativity. Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen explores the pleasures of inactivity, and considers four faces of inertia – the burnout, the slob, the daydreamer and the slacker. Drawing on clinical experience and psychoanalytic theory, Cohen gets to the heart of the apathy so many of us feel when faced with the demands of contemporary life, and asks how we might live a different and more fulfilled existence.
Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. Josh’s most recent book, NOT WORKING: WHY WE HAVE TO STOP was published by Granta in January 2019.