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The Labour of Laziness in Twentieth-Century American Literature$
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Zuzanna Ladyga

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474442923

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474442923.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

Laziness as Concept-Metaphor

Laziness as Concept-Metaphor

(p.25) Chapter 1 Laziness as Concept-Metaphor
The Labour of Laziness in Twentieth-Century American Literature

Zuzanna Ladyga

Edinburgh University Press

The chapter explores what laziness has meant for philosophers, especially those few who chose to address it directly, and provides a conceptual frame for the laziness metaphor. Philosophical inquiries into unproductive idling are rare, but in each instance they center around the issues of the body and resistance. That is the case with Martin Heidegger’s notion of Lässigkeit as the basic existential sensibility, Emmanuel Levinas’s paresse as a position of refusal towards life, and Giorgio Agamben’s inoperativity. But it is also the case when Roland Barthes and Theodor Adorno define idleness in terms of insubordination to pedagogical rituals or as a position of ethical neutrality, when Sandor Ferenczi discovers the principle of neocatharsis in relaxation, or when Donald Winnicott dwells on the benefits of laziness as a psychosomatic symptom. When those ideas are juxtaposed against the political models of passive dissent (such as the parrhēsia model of Diogenes the Cynic, or the strike model proposed by Paul Lafargue), laziness emerges as a valuable signifier for the complex haptic-affective mechanism of counter-normativity. The discourse of laziness lays bare and unmasks the hidden conflation of the biological, the symbolic, and the political.

Keywords:   Lässigkeit, Paresse, Inoperativity, Relaxation, Parrhēsia, Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, Giorgio Agamben, Sigmund Freud, Donald Winnicott

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