'To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world.' - Oscar Wilde
More than ever before, we live in a culture that excoriates inactivity and demonizes idleness. Work, connectivity and a constant flow of information are the cultural norms, and a permanent busyness pervades even our quietest moments. Little wonder so many of us are burning out.
Dr. Saad Ismail & Professor Josh Cohen engage in an illuminating conversation on our ambivalent relationship to work. Among other things, they discuss: why do the forces of inertia and gravity catch up on us? What are the psychological dynamics of the burnout, the slacker, the slob, the daydreamer? What are the sociological and historical reasons for our modern attitudes to work? And how we may come to be in a healthy relationship with our work?
Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of Spectacular Allegories (1998), Interrupting Auschwitz (2003), How to Read Freud (2005), The Private Life (2013), and Not Working: Why We Have to Stop (2019), as well as numerous reviews and articles on modern literature, philosophy and psychoanalysis, appearing regularly in the TLS, Guardian and New Statesman. A book on the therapeutic power of literature will be published by Ebury in 2021, called ‘How To Live, What to Do: Life Lessons from Literature’.