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Keep calm and play the ukulele: The Idler

Keep Calm and Play the Ukulele

How can we be free in a world of jobs, debt and alarm clocks? What’s the best way to live life from moment to moment? If we don’t decide this ourselves, the pressures of life are sure to fill up those moments for us and we risk being left without a sense of peace, purpose or pleasure.

In 1991 a young journalist in London decided to start a magazine addressing this problem. It was called The Idler. During the nineties it styled itself as ‘literature for loafers’, offering essays exploring the quirkier side of life for lazy people. In 2010, in a singular failure to loaf, The Idler’s founders got quite energetic and launched The Idler Academy, a school offering online and real-world courses in the classic liberal arts and practical skills. The style is reminiscent of Victorian books for gentlemen detailing how to tie a bow tie, catch a fish, fire your butler, and that sort of thing.

Online courses at The Idler Academy include An Introduction to Classical Music, Public Speaking and Elocution, Classical Philosophy, How to Dress – A Guide for the Modern Gentleman, Ukulele for Beginners, Growing Vegetables and Herbs, Mindfulness, Punctuation – a mix of seemingly unrelated things with a common theme and purpose: that of not trying too hard, slowing down and examining life more closely so as to get more out of each moment.

Face-to-face courses at The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment (to give it its full title) range from Beekeeping, Harmonica and More Ukulele Ensemble Playing to Rhetoric, Business for Bohemians, Transform Your Handwriting and Taxidermy. The common aim seems to be to rediscover the kinds of pursuits which people with a philosophical mindset enjoyed before we all got shackled to the internet.

The Idler Academy is a nexus for the kinds of pursuits that foster a peaceful state of mind in which meaning can be found. What’s not to like about that?