The Idler (1993)
The Idler #42: Smash the System
|Frequency||Annual (previously quarterly and bi-annual)|
The Idler is a yearly British magazine devoted to its ethos of 'idling'. Founded in 1993 by Tom Hodgkinson and Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the publication's intention is to return dignity to the art of loafing, to make idling into something to aspire towards rather than reject.
On the practice of idling, Tom Hodgkinson writes:
|“||[a] characteristic of the idler's work is that it looks suspiciously like play. This, again, makes the non-idler feel uncomfortable. Victims of the Protestant work ethic would like all work to be unpleasant. They feel that work is a curse, that we must suffer on this earth to earn our place in the next. The idler, on the other hand, sees no reason not to use his brain to organise a life for himself where his play is his work, and so attempt to create his own little paradise in the here and now.||”|
The Idler was launched in 1993 when its editor, Tom Hodgkinson, was 25. The title came from a series of essays by Samuel Johnson. In it, Johnson wrote on such subjects as sleep and sloth and said: "Every man is, or hopes to be, an idler." The new Idler took this 18th-century sensibility and combined it with the radical philosophies of the 1990s. Issue One featured a profile of Dr Johnson and an interview with psychonaut Terence McKenna.
Spin-offs and other media
Tom Hodgkinson has written three books which develop this attitude to life. The first, How To Be Idle, has been published in 20 countries and has so far become a best-seller in the UK, Italy and Germany.
His second book How To Be Free takes an anarchic approach to the everyday barriers that come between us and our dreams. The third is an alternative parenting manual, The Idle Parent, which argues that children should be left largely to their own devices.
The Crap series of humour books is a direct spin-off from an Idler column:
- Crap Jobs is a series of books chronicling the worst of Idler-readers' forays into employment.
- Crap Towns exposes some of the worst places to live in Great Britain. Crap Towns caught the public imagination but drew fire from both local councils and local media in those areas concerned.
- Crap Holidays is an exploration of Samuel Johnson's maxim that the idler allows events and goods to come to him rather than expend energy and money travelling to disenchanting locations.
In 2010, Tom Hodgkinson and Victoria Hull started The Idler Academy in London: a school and bookshop with the aim of providing lifelong education in useful, enjoyable but neglected subjects. It is founded on the idea that leisure be refined through cultivation and upon William Cobbett's stance that "Competence is the foundation of happiness."
Contributors and interviewees featured in The Idler include:
- "About". The Idler. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 7 January 2012.
- "The Idler". The Idler. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2010.