Never tire yourself more than necessary, even if you have to found a culture on the fatigue of your bones. – Antonin Artaud

“Never tire yourself more than necessary…” Sound advice, but its the 2nd part that is most interesting to me today.

Living and working in the shadow of our financial and cultural center of productivity I know bankers, lawyers, plumbers, artists, chefs, and small business owners who claim to work more than 60 or 80 hours a week. Most of them have families, they try to maintain interests outside of work, and maintain a reasonable level of health.

Productivity is an unspoken value at the heart of our culture. The fight against idleness is one of beliefs brought to this country by the New England Protestants. It drives Profit, something Ben Franklin spent a fair deal of time discussing.

Odds are, when you are not working you are consuming the products of someone else labor, so that even in your leisure you are driving production.

& that is what it is. This isn’t a political or economic critique – it is an exploration of the ideas which impact our quality of life.

What the second segment of this quote says, to me, is don’t let the popular culture dictate the life choices you make. 

When you are too tired find something that will enliven you. When fatigue sets in rest, Create a life outside of your work that is creative and restful and so full it could be called its own culture.

This could be said, though perhaps in a more critical tone, as “don’t let the machine grind you up.” & there is no judgement here. The “machine” does some good culturally, but you are not a cog in the wheel. You are a human being capable of great creativity.

Don’t let drive toward increased productivity tire you to the bones. Don’t rest by shutting off or spending and consuming more, blindly.

Create a culture for yourself. Engage with friends, family, and activities which speak to your soul. This will ease the fatigue on your bones more than 4 hours in front of a TV.


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