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slack off

Cutting Slack: paradoxes of slackerdom

Hello! I see that some slackers have been more than punctual in taking the initiative and getting this forum under way. Whereas some others, ahem, have waited for the sun to warm the earth before sallying forth. This is just as it should be, for it places us straightaway at the heart of the issues we are to address: the paradoxes of slackerdom.

Three questions are of supreme interest to me with respect to what I take to be our common concern in performing the everlasting Sunday:

- Why is authentic slacking different than mere laziness (if it is)? I choose that phrasing deliberately to underscore the ticklish distinction between the two: I feel it is somehow slacker-incompatible to identify an “authentic” as opposed to an inauthentic mode of slacking, just as it is absurd to suggest that describing laziness as “mere” does anything but upgrade it to some more interestingly corrosive status. Still, it strikes me as useful, even necessary to attempt to conceptualize slacking off as a specific way of being in the world – as opposed to indolence or idleness (and other agreeable states) on the one hand, and languor or what Christians call slothfulness on the other.

- This ontological speculation on slacking’s core definition begs the second question: slacking’s political ontology. By both slacking off from the imperative to work and, symmetrically, deliberately abstaining from leisure and other modes of consumerism, slackers embody a fascinating – and for the productivist majority, infuriating – performative double bind, akin to the famous “I am a liar” that had the Greeks stumped. Slackers don’t “just” slack off; they go at it full-tilt. Clearly, the studied and ostentatious practice of doing not much at all is all-consuming. But is it subversive? Does it have seditious potential within a regime of productivism? Can it obstruct the reifying logic of “creativity” and “artistic research projects” we hear so much about?

- To answer these questions in the affirmative is to imagine that slackers could come to constitute something of a political community, however slack. But, as Randall Szott has asked, are communities formed by slack not bound by slack, that is, entropic collapse under the weight of their own logic? Or can they, martial arts-style, lackadasically harness the surplus force of the productivist adversary? Are slackers, like hackers, more inclined to untie than to unite, as Ken Wark has argued? And if so, what is at the end of the slack line?