The Tuesday Eudemon

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Saturday night was a perfect snapshot of potential good night life in a small town. Our local Council for the Arts brought in America (“Horse with No Name,” “Sister Golden Hair,” etc.) as part of its 2007-2008 Performing Arts series. My parents are season ticket-holders but were out of town, so I got ’em.

Marie and I first went to a new brewpub (“Fantail”) and had a leisurely dinner with beers, then walked four blocks to the auditorium. America put on a great show: Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell were humorous and mildly self-deprecating (“These are classics, not oldies. They’re oldies once we’re dead”), they played their four monster hits plus their lesser-known hits (including this song which proved somewhat apt for me the next day) and a few new songs. The show lasted an appropriate 90 minutes, then we went back to Fantail for a night-cap, where another couple joined us. We were home by 11:15, which is generally too late for me, but it was such an enjoyable evening–an evening of people thoroughly enjoying life’s offerings without rambunctious excess, the kind of evening adults enjoyed in the old movies–the time flew by.
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I’ve never heard of cyber bounty hunters: A Chicago lawyer who is being criticized, along with his law firm, in an anonymous Internet blog supposedly authored by a fellow attorney has offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who can provide him with the identity of “Troll Tracker.” Nerds across America are salivating at this one.
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My current blogging column is at The Register (subscription required). It’s about leisure in the blogosphere. Excerpt:

Back in the early 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville, the famous French observer and commentator on American life, marveled at Americans’ restlessness and full-throttled living. He devoted an entire chapter to it in his Democracy in America, at one point observing, “It is strange to see with what feverish ardor the Americans pursue their own welfare.”

De Tocqueville was primarily commenting on America’s work culture. Then as now, Americans work harder than their European counterparts.

I suspect we also play harder: When we get a few free hours, we hit the links. When a weekend opens up, we hit the ski slopes. When a week opens up, we hit Puerto Vallarta. In the midst of our work-obsessed culture, we have developed a play-soaked culture.

All work and all play, mixed together, keeping us in constant activity.

It’s not good. Play is good but not great. If a person uses his free time for play, he is merely replacing wage work with play work. It’s like changing from a smelly shirt into the sweat-soaked shirt you jogged in a few hours earlier.

Leisure is the highest pursuit because it does nothing, not because it permits us to run about wild. Nearly 200 years after de Tocqueville, we still haven’t grasped the simple truth that man is made for more than busyness. We’re unaware that man is made for leisure, stillness, peace and calm.

2 Comments

  1. Diane Slater