Hyde (The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, 50-51) distinguishes between “work” and “labor.” The first is what we do by the hour. Labor has its own pace, and there is no timetable or tool to make it work more efficiency: “Writing a poem, developing a new calculus, resolving a neurosis, invention in all forms – these are labors.”
Labor is something suffered, a passion: “Things get done, but we often have the odd sense that we didn’t do them. Paul Goodman wrote in his journal once, ‘I have recently written a few good poems. But I have no feeling that I wrote them.’ That is the declaration of a laborer.”
Since it sets its own pace, labor “is usually accompanied by idleness, leisure, even sleep.” Hyde does a numerological riff: “the ’7′ is the number for ripening; ’8′ is the number for perfect; but during the seventh period what has been accomplished by the will is left alone. It either ripens or it doesn’t. It’s out of our hands.”
So, the secret of productivity: Take afternoon naps, laze about a good deal, never work after dinner, and keep Sabbath.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at 8:19 pm
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