The Idler's Glossary, by Joshua Glenn,


The Idler's Glossary, by Joshua Glenn, "playfully explores the etymology and history of hundreds of idler-specific terms and phrases, while offering both a corrective to popular misconceptions about idling and a foundation for a new mode of thinking about working and not working" is now available on Amazon.

The publisher asked me for a blurb to put on the back cover. Here's what I sent them:

The Idler's Glossary is wonderful! I opened it, set it over my eyes, and took a delightful two-hour nap. Thank you so much.

Here are a few examples from this worthy tome, which is illustrated by the stupendously talented Seth:

bootless: Must every non-useless, non-unprofitable activity involve wearing boots? Quite the contrary, wouldn't you say? Let's start using "slipshod" to mean any activity which is not an end in itself. See: FLIP-FLOP, SLIPSHOD.

bored: Being bored [a term which appeared suddenly, out of nowhere, among the smart set in the 1760s] is the condition–which Guy Debord called the "worst enemy of revolutionary activity"–of being too restless to concentrate, but too apathetic to bust a move. Fortunately, unless one's boredom becomes magnified to a sort of frustrated world-rejection, it's just a mood… and soon passes. Also note that Lin Yutang says that "philosophy began with the sense of boredom," since both involve dreaming wistfully of an ideal world. See: ACEDIA, APATHETIC, ENNUI, SPLEEN.

bum: Like "queer" or "bitch," this term for a wandering mendicant has long since been re-appropriated, as in the song, "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum." As opposed to the guy who sits in the same spot every day asking for a hand-out, the bum [from the German for "saunter"] roams freely throughout the city, the country, the planet: He is king of the road. See: BEGGAR, LOAF, SAUNTER.

cadger: Cadging, the ancient art of imposing upon the generosity of others, is an essential skill for the would-be idler, since poverty is the easiest way to obtain a great deal of free time. According to Henry Miller, who calls it "mooching," when performed without squeamishness or reservations, cadging is both exhilarating and instructive. So long as a cadger [from the Scandinavian word for "huckster"] is generous in turn (though not necessarily in kind), he ought not to be considered a deadbeat, freeloader, or sponger. See: BEGGAR, SCROUNGER.

The Idler's Glossary