Over in the New Statesmen, Ed Smith makes the case for increasing your productivity by making sure to get your R&R. He mentions Bertrand Russel’s In Praise of Idleness, which is my go to piece for arguing with myself against being too busy to argue with myself. Or would be, if only I could find the time.
“I took a ride (on an elephant); but it was by request—I did not ask for it, and didn’t want it; but I took it, because otherwise they would have thought I was afraid, which I was.” Mark Twain, the consummate American, travelled the world in style–despite having almost no money. Allow me to direct your attention to this complementary Millions piece on Twain and the art of travel writing.
"We live in the age of opinion — offered instantly, effusively and in increasingly strident tones. Much of it goes by the name of criticism, and in the most superficial sense this is accurate." The New York Times approached six accomplished critics, Stephen Burns, Katie Roiphe, Pankaj Mishra, Adam Kirsch, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman to explain, in the spirit of Alfred Kazin, "what it is they do, why they do it and why it matters."
The essay is more than just a literary genre but a lifestyle, and it's dominating American society, Christy Wampole argues. “The genre and its spirit provide an alternative to the dogmatic thinking that dominates much of social and political life in contemporary America,” she writes.