The Secret World of Doing Nothing

The Secret World of Doing Nothing

The Secret World of Doing Nothing

The Secret World of Doing Nothing

Synopsis

In this insightful and pathbreaking reflection on "doing nothing," Billy Ehn and Orvar Löfgren take us on a fascinating tour of what is happening when, to all appearances, absolutely nothing is happening. Sifting through a wide range of examples drawn from literature, published ethnographies, and firsthand research, they probe the unobserved moments in our daily lives--waiting for a bus, daydreaming by the window, performing a routine task--and illuminate these "empty" times as full of significance. Creative, insightful, and profound, The Secret World of Doing Nothing leads us to rethink the ordinary and find meaning in today's hypermodern reality.

Excerpt

It is 4:45 P.M. on an ordinary Thursday afternoon at the supermarket. in the long checkout lines people are standing patiently, staring into the air or making small talk. Some of them seem to be daydreaming, while others look around curiously. An everyday scene, trivial and unexciting. It isn’t easy to know whether people are present or not. in their minds they may have traveled to a totally different place. They have shopped at this supermarket so many times that they could almost do it in their sleep. They know how to navigate their shopping cart down the aisles without bumping into others, and they know exactly where to find the nonfat milk, the detergent, and the virgin olive oil. Their routines draw invisible maps and create manuals that make the everyday work.

A man arriving with a well-filled cart needs to select a lane. Which is the fastest one today? With an experienced glance he scans the people in the different queues and the contents of their carts. a senior citizen who will probably want to change one or two articles, several students in a hurry, parents with small children who are toddling up with new items they want to add to the cart. There is much to consider.

Our man chooses checkout number five and notes those who have that moment joined the queues to his left and right. the competition has started. He gets annoyed at some dawdlers he sees ahead, and he looks anxiously at . . .

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