Notes Towards An Inactivist Manifesto

Do not confuse inactivism with inactivity. A day passed in the fields, along the hedgerows and around the trees, foraging for food, is not a day of inactivity. It is an avoidance of the dreary journey to the supermarket, where a reluctant trolley is shoved and dragged through the tense, dithering crowds seeking out two frozen beefburgers in a plastic tray, wrapped in clingfilm. Similarly, an afternoon spent lolling in the local library, flicking through books and magazines, is that of the true seeker after knowledge, who has rejected the notion of flicking through several hundred television channels only to find, after half an hour or more, that there’s nothing on.

The employed inactivist seeks to blur the lines between work and leisure. If you are unfortunate enough to be working at a repetitive, mindless task, use your mind creatively, planning the most rewarding use of your time on your return to the real world. If you are unfortunate enough to have a post which demands concentration, aim to complete your task as quickly as possible, leaving you free to plan as above. If you are fortunate enough to work alone, then complete the bulk of your tasks with the utmost speed and efficiency, leaving a little to work on should a manager or supervisor heave into view, and always ensure there is a book and a goodly supply of your favoured beverages to hand.

Charity shops, jumble sales, flea markets, car boot sales and the World Wide Web are the inactivist’s friends. Use them well to share and glean techniques, skills and knowledge.

Vegetarian and vegan foods require much lower levels of energy; as fuel in the cooking process, as human input into preparation and in the digestive processes. If you feel the need for cooked flesh, let “Meat as a treat” be your motto.

Shop and cook primarily to eat, then for the freezer, then for pickling. A full freezer is a happy freezer and requires less energy to maintain temperature. Pickling is easy, cheap, quick, a relaxing way to pass time in the kitchen and home made pickles ennoble a meal made with the most basic ingredients.

Should you live by the coast, rejoice. You have year round foods for the taking, the only requirements being good health, a well illustrated guide, tide tables, suitable containers to carry the bounty home and pleasure in being out of doors.

Eschew organised religions. With the honourable exceptions of paganism and many branches of Buddhism, they are demanding and proscriptive, both anathema to the inactivist.

Practise the art of graceful refusal. A firm but polite “No”, delivered with a slight smile and a shake of the head, eyes and head a little lowered, is often enough to befuddle the terminally ambitious and demanding.

The true inactivist does not enter into arguments with those who challenge the inactivist way. The true inactivist cannot be arsed.

Make the best use you can of the conventional, always being open to the unconventional, the alien and the novel.

Wear your langour with pride.


Any suggestions, amendments, quibbles or additions gratefully received.


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Filed under counterculture, Food and drink

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