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Oscar Wilde said that doing nothing is, ‘the most difficult thing in the world’.
Today we live in a culture that demonises idleness, and the glorious art of doing nothing is disappearing. We are subject to a constant flow of information, and a permanent busyness pervades even our quietest moments. But although inactivity can induce lethargy, it can also foster imaginative freedom and creativity.
Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen explores the paradoxical pleasures of inactivity, and asks how we might live a different and more fulfilled existence.
Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of numerous books and articles on modern literature, psychoanalysis and cultural theory. His books include How to Read Freud (Granta, 2005) and The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark (Granta, 2013). He is a regular contributor to Guardian, New Statesman and TLS.
Lucy Tobin is a columnist and business reporter at the Evening Standard and author of seven books, including the bestseller, A Guide to Uni Life and 2018’s Being An Adult.