Donald Davidson

A Mirror for Artists

The furious pace of our working hours is carried into our leisure hours, which are
feverish and energetic. We live by the clock. Our days are a muddle of “activities,” strenuously pursued. We do not have the free mind and easy temper that should
characterize true leisure. Nor does the separation of our lives into two distinct parts, of which one is all labor–too often mechanical and deadening–and the other
all play, undertaken as nervous relief, seem to be conducive to a harmonious life. The arts will not easily survive a condition under which we work and play at cross-purposes. We cannot separate our being into contradictory halves without a certain amount of spiritual damage. The leisure thus offered is really no leisure at all; either it is pure sloth, under which the arts take on the character of mere entertainment, purchased in boredom and enjoyed in utter passivity, or it is another kind of labor, taken up out of a sense of duty, pursued as a kind of fashionable enterprise for which one’s courage must be continually whipped up by reminders of one’s obligation to culture. – Donald Davidson.

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