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Saturday, 21 September 2019

Recumbency: yea or nay?

Young people (ie, 75 and below) won’t make head nor tail of this.

Should one feel guilty about dozing while the sun shines? Especially after lunch or, in my case, brunch.

Drifting off on the couch is one of the most seductive experiences I know. It’s not just a matter of parting (temporarily, one hopes) from an increasingly defective body, one also discards the carapace of history. The memories of commuting, of wearily contemplating some unattractive DIY project, of reminding oneself about the need for toilet rolls. That delicious onset of heaviness as we descend... In dozing we are shriven.

But the question about guilt remains. In becoming an atheist I passed briefly – in my youth - through various Christian institutions, mostly Noncomformist. All seemed to suggest that pleasurable experiences should, perhaps must, be paid for. I believe it is a Calvinist tenet and somehow I’ve never shrugged it off.

VR is in two minds about dozing. Yes it happens, but she finds the abrupt return to wakefulness so traumatic that any delights are immediately swept away. While I, alas, find reality’s renewal almost as seductive as its disappearance.

My maternal Grannie was born into the mid-Victorian era and died at 96. She dozed but, when awake, sought niggling tasks. Were these two things related? I doubt I’d have got a straight answer.

Here’s the crux. Awake, is it likely I’d devote this “saved” time to useful work? It’s true I wash up (and dry!), occasionally water the garden, prune the more obstreperous bushes – all unwillingly. But rehearsing An die Musik, writing a sonnet or struggling through Bertrand Russell can’t be regarded as useful activities.

The question is of course rhetorical. I shall continue to doze. Framing rejoinders to a Calvinist figure of authority as the eyelids subside.


  1. Real napping is an art form, and I assume your dozing is my napping. In my family, we call this "40 winks" and we do this often. I could point you into the direction of proper scientific studies on the benefits of it.

  2. Happy napping to you, friend! I would say napping is a pleasure you have well earned, having paid for it in advance. Enjoy!

  3. Sabine: There is a difference between a nap and a doze but I suspect it's purely personal. One takes a nap, one submits to a doze. Also a nap is closer to real sleep whereas a doze is often only two or three millimeters beneath consciousness; noises happening in the real world, even conversation, may percolate into a doze. The benefits from dozing, as with all forms of being seduced, are quite obvious. Other than the faint apprehension, at my age, that the state may become permanent.

    Crow: I query "earned". All I've done is survived and this has allowed me more time to reflect on the many factoids that support the view that my long life has been undeserved. Your yourself would be able to contribute to this thesis. Have done so, in fact. And those I have deserved.

    1. I've been churlish enough to suggest you don't deserve a long life?!? Good God! If I have, I most sincerely apologize, Robbie.

    2. Crow: Churlish, forsooth! O come on. Not in so many words. But when it comes to verbal diplomacy even Mike Pompeo could give me a head start. My stuff's often beautifully written but carelessly conceived. You're entitled. When we say "Drop dead!" (not that you ever have.) we don't mean it literally. And besides, your put-downs are usually witty and I set great store by wit. Live for ever, Crow.

  4. Hah, now that I have figured out that Safari has been jettisoning my comments, you are in for it!

    I shall even disagree...

    I believe that not only watering gardens but also "rehearsing An die Musik, writing a sonnet or struggling through Bertrand Russell" is useful. That is, I believe that anything that adds beauty and truth to the world is of use. So many are busy destroying truth and bringing ugliness into the world--and you, you are tilting against their nasty windmills with your music and poetry.

    Please continue.

    Add to the sum of beauty and truth in the world.

  5. Marly: But alas nothing arrives, or even exists, without consequences. Rehearsing An die Musik may annoy the neighbours, the sonnet may turn out to be a bad sonnet, and, as a result of misinterpreting An Outline of Philosophy (a very easy thing to do), I may go on to form an antisemitic - even anti-beauty - political party. Both truth and beauty are accorded different definitions depending on who is speaking. Look no further than Leni Riefenstahl's documentary movie Triumph of the Will, which has been torturing liberal minds ever since it was created in the thirties.

    Even innocence may be qualified.

    1. True. But I expect that writing a humdrum sonnet or rehearsing An die Musik may actually be a bridge to a better sonnet and a better performance...

      The fact that the Devil is alluring is surely no right reason to avoid beauty. I expect that's why goodness is usually packed in with beauty and truth. We need the whole triumverate!

  6. Sorry I'm late to the party here. I've been "dozing" for a few weeks.

    John Calvin is right up there with St. Paul in my mind as people who ruined Christianity. Just the concept of predestination makes my skin crawl. Why did people make all this stuff up and then burden the rest of us with irrational fears that they might be right? I'm thinking that might be a sin in itself. And not just a venial sin.

  7. Marly: We're not avoiding beauty, rather the possibility of beauty. The two things differ widely: the possibility of beauty also carries the possibility of ugliness. And there's an old saw that may be modified: not only is the way to hell paved with good intentions, but also the way to heaven. Yet again I fear "goodness" is not an absolute; it depends on who is speaking. Trump's "goodness" may not be recognisable to you and I; but then we don't have a monopoly on its definition. Parenthetically I'm pleased that bits and pieces of Bertrand Russell are falling into place. I'm managing to suppress my facetiousness: I'm duller but more plausible.

    1. Colette: Welcome back, gammy knee and all. I think we can say that Calvin and Paul took Christianity to its logical (and thereby its illogical) extremity. And all of sudden it didn't look quite so persuasive. It's a trick many comedians play around with. Monty Python is full of it (eg, the dead parrot sketch).

      No need to worry about the horrors of predestination. There's an equally vocal group banging the drum for free will. Both end in contradictions.

      Thinking. WS got there first.


      Let me have men about me that are fat;
      Sleek-headed men and such as sleep o' nights:
      Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;
      He thinks too much: such men are dangerous.

      On the whole I think it's better to be thought dangerous rather than a wuss.