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42 - Satan v. Venus

Idleness is bliss.

Bertrand Russell begins his famous 1932 essay, In Praise of Idleness, with:

Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: "Satan finds some mischief still for idle hands to do." Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment.

But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution.

I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.

Russell continues with a story about twelve beggars and a traveler.

I propose that photographers have to be, at times, like the twelfth beggar.

Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them.

Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth.

This traveler was on the right lines.

But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it.

I hope that, after reading the following pages, the leaders of the Y.M.C.A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing.

If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Just the other day as I was driving into the post office, I realized that they were closed for lunch.

What would I do for forty-five minutes?

I went to a nearby park where I used to walk my dog every Sunday morning on the way to buying the paper.

My expectations were small. However, the light was cooperative and I had the freedom of idleness.

I found one definite keeper, I came upon a second photograph of a possible ongoing series, and took a photograph for the Photo 101 section of the website.

I'm glad I arrived at the post office at 12:06 and not at 11:55.

I became like the twelfth beggar.

My idleness gave my eyes a rest from errands.

If you take away idleness, Cupid's bow's unstrung,

his torch is dark and held to scorn.

As plane trees like wine, as poplar trees like water,

as muddy reeds like the marshy ground,

so Venus loves idleness: you who seek to end love,

love gives way to business: be busy, you'll be safe.

Cures for Love (Remedia Amoris), by Ovid

Be busy, don't take pictures.

Be idle, take pictures.

Venus exists; Satan does not.