Slackers February 17, 2017

It’s a challenge to get a clear idea of what slackers are really all about. Tom Lutz isolates the dilemma in his Doing Nothing (18-19):

The famous or almost-famous idlers, loafers, loungers, and slackers throughout history had to produce work about not working in order for us to know them. And many of them, it turns out, were closet workaholics or reformed slackers. Anything even approaching uncorrupted firsthand testimony is impossible to find. What we often get is something like my son’s inexpressiveness on the matter or, rather, that gap between verbal and gestural expression that young people often find themselves living in.

Richard Linklaker’s film, Slacker, is a case in point: “Character represent a wide range of idle lifestyles and a wide range of articulateness, from the most arcane academic jargon-spewing to the monosyllabic. The characters discuss anarchism and nihilism, try to get by selling odd trinkets or playing in bands that don’t rehearse, and consider the possibility that life is but a waking dream or the hallucination of aliens. They attack yuppies and the work ethic. As one character says, ‘Sure I live bad, but I don’t have to work at it.’ Another, when asked what he is up to, says he has a band rehearsal in four or five hours, and he’s kind of getting ready for that.”

What does Linklater know? By his mid-forties, he had already produced, written, or directed (or all three) fifteen movies.

Alas: “real slackers would be, logically, too slack to write their own history. All we have, thus, is a set of images concocted by others, handed down to us in the form of Hogarth’s etchings of Industry and Idleness, Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp, Thoreau’s self-portrait, Linklater’s atmospheric portraits, Ashcroft’s polemical cartoons.” None enough of a slacker to slack off writing and portraying.

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