November 27, 2022


Avoid People Who Have No Hobbies (Ixtu Díaz, November 27, 2022, European Conservative)

Of all the moral epidemics of our time, perhaps the most pernicious is the silent plague afflicting people who have no hobbies. They are people who live to work. Nothing else. Every single moment of their lives is pure obligation, pure transcendence; even if they have managed to find a certain pleasure in fulfilling their routine duties--perhaps in a slightly less unpleasant job than usual, or a new client, or tearing pages out of a calendar--this twinge of satisfaction can scarcely be called 'happiness.' The man with hobbies often fails to understand just how incredibly rich his life is in comparison with the fabulously anodyne existence of those who consider all forms of leisure a waste of time.

G. K. Chesterton, a king among those who find deep enjoyment in the smaller things of life, had no doubts: "Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling." He was perpetually searching for fun with the childlike gaze he always wore, and he was grateful for the small pleasures he found. "You say grace before meals," he wrote. "All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."

What we call hobbies are not a thing of our time, but of all times. When researchers found, deep in the tomb of the pharaoh Reny-Seneb, a board game (Hounds and Jackals), carved in ebony and dating from about 1800 BC., what bothered them most was not that their discovery was a vulgar pastime, but that they did not know the rules. On the island of Lewis, in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, archeologists uncovered several Scandinavian chess pieces from the 12th century, intricately made of walrus' and whale's teeth. In the Middle Ages--so dark and dull according to contemporary commentators--people had a great time playing dice, chess, and backgammon. 

Besides criticizing our neighbors, the world's oldest known pastime involved 49 tokens, found at the Bronze Age burial site of Basur Höyük near the Turkish city of Siirt. Made of stone, these tokens are of different colors: some are spheres, some are pyramids, others evoke dogs and wild boars. The same site also gave us rudimentary dice, and if archeologists had looked more closely, they probably would have found bottles of whiskey, a wad of banknotes, and a few half-smoked cigars.

We can be certain that since prehistoric times, mankind has played games, found hobbies and pastimes, and has reasonably balanced work--hunting mammoths and cleaning the cave--with leisure--going out for a drink or a game with friends. 

Posted by at November 27, 2022 12:00 AM