Not Working: Why We Have to Stop

Cohen, Josh. 2019. Not Working: Why We Have to Stop. London: Granta. ISBN 9781783782062 [Book]

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Abstract or Description

More than ever before, we live in a culture that excoriates inactivity and demonizes idleness. Work, connectivity and a constant flow of information are the cultural norms, and a permanent busyness pervades even our quietest moments. Little wonder so many of us are burning out.

In a culture that tacitly coerces us into blind activity, the art of doing nothing is disappearing. Inactivity can induce lethargy and indifference, but is also a condition of imaginative freedom and creativity. Psychoanalyst Josh Cohen explores the paradoxical pleasures of inactivity, and considers four faces of inertia - the burnout, the slob, the daydreamer and the slacker. Drawing on his personal experiences and on stories from his consulting room, while punctuating his discussions with portraits of figures associated with the different forms of inactivity - Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, Emily Dickinson and David Foster Wallace - Cohen gets to the heart of the apathy so many of us feel when faced with the demands of contemporary life, and asks how we might live a different and more fulfilled existence.

Item Type:



Inactivity, Inertia, Idleness, Apathy, Psychoanalysis, Andy Warhol, Orson Welles, Emily Dickinson, David Foster Wallace

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


3 January 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2018 09:09

Last Modified:

26 Feb 2021 15:49


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