July 08, 2005

Idle-atry

One of Roland Barthes' most amusing Mythologies was L'écrivain en vacances, "The Writer on Holiday." In it, he dissects a photo of Andre Gide in Le Figaro to illustrate how the press first de-mythologizes the celebrity ("Look! He vacations.") in order to elevate him or her immediately far above us mere drudges:

What proves the wonderful singularity of the writer, is that during the holiday in question, which he takes alongside factory workers and shop assistants, he unlike them does not stop, if not actually working, at least producing.

I was reminded of this by the New York Times review of Tom Hodgkinson's How To Be Idle. Reviewer Jeffrey Steingarten gives away the game: "With no warning, [Hodgkinson] reveals that his goal — the ultimate purpose of his idling — is to attain a visionary state."

The problem with producing a 286-page book extolling idleness (or producing a blog celebrating laziness), ultimately you feel compelled to try a little behind-the-hand wink at the reader. You see, I'm not being idle, I'm actually working mightily to attain a visionary state. Wink, wink.

To all my readers, a solemn pledge: no visionary states to be seen here, move along.

Posted by campbell at 05:36 PM

You Can't spell Laziness without LA

From LA Observed:

Bardach: "The Geniuses like to cultivate powerful friends. The Morons like to cultivate powerful enemies....No true Moron is ever available for lunch. Obviously, we're still sleeping."

At last, a club for Snoofmadrune!

Posted by campbell at 05:27 PM

The new summer color from Paris: Rouge

In reading a Le Monde article about the London bombings, I came across the news that the French are elevating their alert status to red. The French system is called (I'm not kidding) Vigipirate and was introduced in 1978.

Here's the relevant web site from the French Prime Minister's office. There's an explanation of the program and its history on Wikipedia.

Peculiarly, red isn't the highest alert level in their system. Scarlet is. which if you see the accompanying illustration, is a darker red. Isn't that a bit subtle, even for the French? Of course, they could refer to the highest level as "Burgundy", while the next level could just be "Vin ordinaire."

Some jokers suggested last year that the 4 levels of French alert are Run, Hide, Surrender, and Collaborate.


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Posted by campbell at 01:13 AM