#319 How To Do Nothing | Jenny Odell
For an audience of meditators (or aspiring meditators), the idea of doing nothing shouldn’t be foreign. But, speaking from personal experience, it is very possible, especially for Type A people, to approach meditation with an agenda. In which case, sitting on the cushion can be very far from truly doing nothing. Enter Jenny Odell, who makes a very compelling case for truly… doing… nothing. In her work, she is challenging what for many of us, myself included, is a deep-seated and sometimes subconscious reflex: to constantly optimize and constantly be “productive.” She is a Lecturer in the Stanford Department of Art and Art History and author of the bestseller How to Do Nothing, which just came out in paperback. She comes to the subject of time from a very different perspective than our guest on Monday, Ashley Willans. (If you haven’t listened to that episode, go do it; these two make a fascinating pairing.) In this conversation, Jenny and I talk about: letting go of our constant demand for productivity and learning to simply look around; the thrilling phenomenon of observing something so deeply that you actually cease to understand it; why moments of disgust, or even existential despair, can actually be quite instructive; and how to divest from what she calls “the attention economy”–and where to reinvest instead.
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Where to find Jenny Odell online:
Other Resources Mentioned:
- Buddhism Without Beliefs
- Pauline Oliveros
- Hurry Slowly
- Jeff Warren
- Jenny’s Review of Bird Behavior Books in The Atlantic
- The Art of Noticing
- Freedom from the Known
- Peter Berg
- John Gast’s Painting
- Jenny’s Original “How to Do Nothing” Talk
- The Burnout Society