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  • Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal





    Thursday, October 21, 2004

    This idea could lift all boats 

    Author Mark Slouka would likely endorse the idea of quiet time mentioned in the preceding item. He writes in the November issue of Harper's magazine about ``Quitting the Paint Factory: On the virtues of idleness.'' (Harper's Web site is here, but the essay is not available.) It is an old concept but one with which we Americans are increasingingly unfamiliar. Here in Ohio, we are particularly concerned about business (see the next entry). We don't have enough of it to provide good jobs to all who want them. So we would be in what Slouka would describe as the James Russell Lowell camp

    ``Well, yes,'' Slouka writes, ``James Russell Lowell, that 19th-century workhorse, summed it all up quite neatly: `There is no better ballast for keeping the mind steady on its keel, and saving it from all risk of crankiness, than business.' Quite so. The mind, however, particularly the mind of a citizen in a democratic society, is not a boat. Ballast is not what it needs, and steadiness, alas, can be a synonym for stupidity, as our current administration has so amply demonstrated. No, what the democratic mind requires, above all, is time; time to consider its options. Time to develop the democratic virtues of independence, orneriness, objectivity, and fairness.''

    Ohioans' minds are not boats, but if they were, they would be sinking under the weight of a conundrum that is both too much work and not enough.


    posted by Ohioblog: A Swing State Journal at 10:50 AM



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