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Logos [1-15-10]

“The point and the justification of leisure are not that the functionary should function faultlessly and without a break-down, but that the functionary should continue to be a man–and that means that he should not be wholly absorbed in the clear-cut milieu of his strictly limited function; the point is also that he should retain the faculty of grasping the world as a whole and realizing his full potentialities as an entity meant to reach Wholeness.

“Because Wholeness is what man strives for, the power to achieve leisure is one of the fundamental powers of the human soul.  Like the gift for contemplative absorption in the things that are, and like the capacity of the spirit to soar in festive celebration, the power to know leisure is the power to overstep the boundaries of the workaday world and reach out to superhuman, life-giving existential forces that refresh and renew us before we turn back to our daily work.  Only in genuine leisure does a ‘gate to freedom’ open.  Through that gate man may escape from the ‘restricted area’ of that ‘latent anxiety’ which a keen observer has perceived to be the mark of the world of work, where ‘work and unemployment are the two inescapable poles of existence.’

“In leisure–not of course exclusively in leisure, but always in leisure–the truly human values are saved and preserved because leisure is the means whereby the sphere of the ‘specifically human’ can, over and again, be left behind–not as a result of any violent effort to reach out, but as in an ecstasy (the ecstasy is indeed more ‘difficult’ than the most violent exertion, more ‘difficult’ because not invariably at our beck and call; a state of extreme tension is more easil induced than a state of relaxation and ease although the latter is effortless); the full enjoyment of leisure is hedged in by paradoxes of this kind, and it is itself a state at once very human and superhuman.  Aristotle says of leisure, ‘A man will live thus, not to the extent that he is a man, but to the extent that a divine principle dwells within him.'”
-Josef Pieper, Leisure, The Basis of Culture

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