Silence, Solitude, Laziness and Other Pillars of the Good Life
Fall 2014 quarter
Freedom and discipline concur
only in ecstasy, all else
is shoveling out the muck.
Give me my old hot horn.
Hayden Carruth, “Freedom and Discipline”
Silence has been banished by ear buds, the roar of politics and the economy, and the hum of hard disks doing our searching. Solitude? Think- as you're tempted to buy a retreat in a monastery or take a guided walk in a faraway canyon- of surveillance and our collective reliance on Facebook and its e-cousins. Laziness? We're anxious to be worker bees, and the last defense of a “right to be lazy” was written by Paul Lafargue in 1883. Silence, solitude, laziness: gone.
This program will consider three paradoxical, counterintuitive hypotheses: Silence may open space to enjoy the virtues of vernacular speech and living in common. Solitude may allow us to know the importance of embracing others. Laziness may be more productive than work if our aim is the good life.
We will follow the paths of iconoclasts, monks, mystics, utopian socialists, Charlie Chaplin and other artists, stoics and cynics and the occasional (certified) sociologist or philosopher to remember what we know about living well.
In addition to the common work of the program, students will undertake an independent study of considerable significance that should be more admirable than convincing.
At least four class hours each week will be devoted to writing, learning to make artful sentences. Students will read their work aloud and learn to accept and give good, open and public criticism of writing. In addition to the common work of the program, students will undertake an independent study of considerable significance that should be more admirable and beautiful than convincing. This project will account for up to half of the credit to be awarded. If your own writing practice contains even a scintilla of laziness, that’ll change.
Fields of Study
Preparatory for studies or careers in
Location and Schedule
Offered during: Day