[ Hand-washing basin at Katsura, Kyoto ]

Leisure is the basis of culture

"If you deem all of this utopian, I beg you to reflect on the reasons which render it utopian" (Bertolt Brecht)

"The feeding gorilla comes in peace" (Bubba Freejohn)

Leisure is neither idleness nor busyness; it is both productive and refreshing. Josef Pieper's fine essay, Leisure: The Basis of Culture (Pantheon, 1952; Random House, 1963), which, appropriately, is out-of-print in our unleisured time, has much of value to say about leisure, as does the quotation, immediately below, from Walter Ong's Preface to his book: Interfaces of the word: Studies in the evolution of consciousness and culture (Cornell University Press, 1977).

I think Ong's statement well describes some necessary conditions for genuinely human life (leisure), although I feel these conditions need to be realized more generally, and not only temporarily for only a few senior professional scholars. Even as a child, they were what I needed. [Please see my web page: The piety of communication, for some thoughts on how we can best handle those misfortunate situations in which circumstances beyond our control preclude this blessing.]

Some of these studies were worked out during a wonderful year, 1973-74, when I was a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, California. Here... I learned the term "disambiguate,"... and labored to disambiguate my own utterances or mutterings under challenge from various other Fellows... -- all under the benign incitation of the Center's director, O. Meredith Wilson, who told us, "You have been invited here as Fellows to do your own work as you please, with the understanding that the only pressure on you is what comes from within each of you." He did not add, though he might have, that he had brought together at the Center the forty-four most inner-driven characters he could find at that moment across the face of the earth. I am grateful to all at the Center and to those responsible for its existence.... W.J.O. (p. 13)
Enjoyment is always bound up with gratitude; if this gratitude is deeply felt it includes the wish to return goodness received and is thus the basis of generosity. There is always a close relation between being able to accept and to give, and both are part of the relation to the good object [prototypically, the nurturing mother] and therefore counteract loneliness. Furthermore, the feeling of generosity underlies creativeness, and this applies to the infant's most primitive constructive activities as well as to the creativeness of the adult. (Melanie Klein, Envy and gratitude and other works, 1946-1963, 1975, p. 310)
The night of 02-03 September 1998, I dreamed I found myself among some college students, moving into a dorm room, being confused about registration, etc. Somehow I thought I was again entangled in the, to me, always anxiety-producing details of "starting school". In fact, however, I was there on a special grant to spend the coming year studying ethical dimensions of the role of architecture in our society. I had no reason to be afraid, for I was not being subjected to the student regimen, but rather had been granted an opportunity to pursue my own interests within the institutional structure. I should have been happy, and only have felt badly for the "incoming students" around me. Instead, I was almost in danger of losing my opportunity, since, before coming, my discouragement about "returning to school" had led me not to make preparations, and now, having arrived, I was unsure how to connect with the persons who were welcoming me. --One message of this dream is: When a person has been mistreated and become accustomed to such mistreatment (e.g., my having been a student, tested, etc.), even if the person knows the mistreatment is wrong and has struggled against it, if more appropriate conditions of life become available, the person may need rehabilitative help to overcome the continuing effects of what was done to them, in order to become freely able to adapt to and participate in their new life situation. [Go/Return to Edmund Husserl's observation on the dependence of the life of the mind upon safe daily life circumstances; See also: more reflections on this quote from Husserl: Philosophy and Daily Life.]
There are some new members... of a small tennis club I used to frequent as a Rome-based correspondent more than 20 years ago.... They come and play at 1 o'clock, because, you know, they have to work in the morning. Yes, I know, morning work, an unfortunate thing.... Globalization has no place for "dolce far niente" - the pleasurable idleness woven into Italian life. No wonder, then, that globalization is a contested process, here and in other less sunlit places with their own particularities of style and work and habit. (Roger Cohen, "In Face of Change, Italy Cleaves to 'la Dolce Vita'", International Herald Tribune, NYT on the Web, 15Apr06) [See also: Quote #63.]

"DO WHAT YOU WILL" (--The rule of Rabelais' abbey, Thélème)

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[ ] [ Leisure: Luxe, calme et volupte is the basis of culture! ] [ Leisure: Luxe, calme et volupte is the basis of culture! ]  | [ Have a leisured lunch at a French cafe! ] [ Have a leisured lunch at a French cafe! ]
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[ Erasmus of Rotterdam, writing.... ]
Read Rabelais' description of Thélème.
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Read  about Katsura villa, Kyoto (location of hand-washing basin at top of this page).
Read the real story about The Tower of Babel.
[ For the 21st century: Slow food! Slow reflection on all the fast things us running around! ]Slow down! Go to "slow food" website. Enjoy!
"Shipwreck with Spectator" (Life as a journey...).
Think  about the role of philosophy in daily life (and the role of daily life in philosophy!): The vulnerability of the human spirit.
Learn  Jan Szczepanski's ideas concerning Individuality and Society.
Read  Edmund Husserl's lecture: Philosophy and the Crisis of European Humanity (1935).
Think  about The Decline of The West: Is the adventure of Univeralizing emancipatory Culture over?
Learn why a city can deserve to exist (Louis Kahn).
Return  to reflections on my doctoral dissertation process: Toward a place for study....
Learn  about my introduction to the history of art as a Yale freshman (Abbot Suger and the cathedral of St. Denis).
Return  to one student's unleisured education at Harvard.
See  five kinds of schooled fools (from Sebastian Brandt's Ship of Fools, 1494).
[ Did early 20th century artists' fascination with primitive art contribute to us becoming less civilized? ]
Return to my essay: Against ambivalence.
Tackle  some Contemporary Communication Challenges.
See also  my page on Freud's Civilization and its Discontents.
Discover a big secret about secrets.
[ Whatever happened to Chicken Little? ] [ ] [ Where is AOL man going to? ]
Think  about the role of myth in your life (and in culture and society in general).
What I believe ("The net").  [[ Go to 'This I believe' page via intro.... ]View intro!]
Read  Garrett Hardin's classic essay: The Tragedy of the Commons.
Return to Dreams and reveries.
Return to essays page.
[ ] [ Go into the new Millennium! + See Mt. Etna! ]
Return to Design for a Psychotherapist's Office.
Return  to Brad McCormick's childhood page (The Sorrow and the Pity).
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Copyright © 1998-2002 Brad McCormick, Ed.D.
bradmcc@cloud9.net [ Email me! ]
16 April 2006CE (2006-04-16 ISO 8601)
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Each person needs to be a peer member of a world, a family and a community: cosmos, oikos and polis.
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