A friend forwarded a sampler of Tom Hodgkinson’s forthcoming How to be Idle. Given that the first sentence my father taught me was “you’d better put your nose to the grindstone” (“but, Dad, they’re just blocks“), followed closely by that old early-to-bed Benjamin Franklin saw, I may just have to buy the book direct from Amazon U.K. Here’s an excerpt:
The propaganda against oversleeping goes back a very long way, over two thousand years, to the Bible. Here is Proverbs on the subject:
6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise:
7 which having no guide,
overseer or ruler,
8 provideth her meat in the summer,
and gathereth her food in the harvest.
9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard?
When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to sleep:
11 so shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth,
and thy want as an armed man. Prov. 24.33, 34
In the first place, I would seriously question the sanity of a religion that holds up the ant as an example of how to live. The ant system is an exploitative aristocracy based on the unthinking toil of millions of workers and the complete inactivity of a single Queen and a handful of drones. The voice of God goes on to admonish the poor “sluggard” for sleeping and then warns that poverty and hunger shall be his rewards if he continues to lie in bed. Idleness is sin, and the wages of sin is death (and the wages of hard Work are Â£22,585 pa with London weighting).
Christianity has promoted bed-guilt ever since. This passage from the Bible is used as a bludgeon by moralists, capitalists and bureaucrats in order to impose upon the people the notion that God hates it when you get up late. It suits the lust for order that characterizes the non-idler: don’t waste time! Better to be busy than doing nothing!