By Pierre Saint-Amand
We consider the Enlightenment as an period ruled via principles of growth, creation, and industry--not an period that preferred the lax and indolent person. yet was once the Enlightenment merely in regards to the unceasing development of self and society? The Pursuit of Laziness examines ethical, political, and monetary treatises of the interval, and divulges that an important eighteenth-century texts did locate worth in idleness and nonproductivity. Fleshing out Enlightenment considering within the works of Denis Diderot, Joseph Joubert, Pierre de Marivaux, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Jean-Siméon Chardin, this booklet explores idleness in all its guises, and illustrates that laziness existed, now not as a vice of the wretched, yet as an exemplar of modernity and a resistance to ideals approximately advantage and utility.
Whether within the dawdlings of Marivaux's journalist who behind schedule and procrastinated or within the matters of Chardin's work who thrilled in suspended, playful time, Pierre Saint-Amand indicates how eighteenth-century works supplied a robust argument for laziness. Rousseau deserted his past security of work to pursue reverie and botanical walks, Diderot emphasised a parasitic technique of resisting paintings with a view to free up time, and Joubert's little-known posthumous Notebooks appreciably adversarial the valuable philosophy of the Enlightenment in a quest to infinitely put off work.
Unsettling the obdurate view of the eighteenth century as an age of frenetic industriousness and exertions, The Pursuit of Laziness plumbs the texts and pictures of the time and uncovers planned yearnings for slowness and recreation.
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Extra info for The pursuit of laziness : an idle interpretation of the enlightenment
114). ”5 The Spectator is in his element outdoors. He is actually a product of the object; it is the event that situates him. The Spectator is the guest, the devoted disciple, of circumstance. He seeks another mind, an imagination that he claims “would indeed be worth every bit as much as that born of work and attention” (p. 115). Marivaux gives a name to these objects, these occasions for lightweight thought: he calls them “trifles” (bagatelles; p. 138). The supple imagination slips readily from the weighty to the frivolous, from the serious to the laughable.
Contemplation, as suspension in play, in the pleasure of playing: this child happily abandons his books, paper, and pen. Pleynet’s observation, with a nod to Heraclitus, that “Time is a child at play” (Chardin, p. 68) could serve as the philosophical caption to this painting, and indeed to the whole of Chardin’s work as a time of play. But Chardin’s time also refers to other aspects of his painting, to his charmed search for those “certain moments” that La Font de Saint-Yenne identifies negatively as those “utterly uninteresting actions of life” that are converted into a miracle of “truth” (Réflexions, p.
Chardin’s work is work at rest. The viewer of his paintings experiences a moment of suspension, an idle spell of pleasure. Diderot thinks of it as recreation: “the eye is constantly recreated, because there is calm and repose. We stop in front of a Chardin as if by instinct, as a traveler weary from his road will sit, almost unawares, in the spot that offers him a seat of greenery, silence, waters, shade, and cool” (Diderot, Œuvres esthétiques, p. 494). Chardin’s still lifes must be seen not only as rejecting the glorious representation of actions in clamorous, unruly narrative painting, but as choosing a form of painting that turns inward: the world is confined to rest, in the silence of objects.
The pursuit of laziness : an idle interpretation of the enlightenment by Pierre Saint-Amand