Media Diet: Tom Hodgkinson

Author and Editor of The Idler

| November-December 1995

Tom Hodgkinson is a writer, thinker, and slacker. He is also the editor of England’s “emerged zine” The Idler, which promotes the art and science of loafing, chronicles the modern idler’s lifestyle, and combats the Protestant work ethic in all its forms. The Idler was the winner in the Alternative Press Awards 1995 “General Excellence/Under 5,000 circulation” category (see July-August 1995 Utne Reader). We interviewed Tom about his media diet.

What magazines do you read? 

Actually, I prefer flipping to reading, because the act of flipping allows the mind to wander, without making a commitment to reading. Reading constrains your thoughts, and one of the greatest idle pleasures is daydreaming. I like flipping through Benetton’s Colors, because it’s almost a sensual pleasure, and Playboy, because it is a sensual pleasure, and of course Utne Reader, because it is packed with new ideas. Speaking of which, when I first read Wired I thought it was really brilliant, because there are amazingly few magazines with new ideas in them. But Wired demands that its employees devote their life and soul to their work, which seems to me completely mad. If you set yourself up as a countercultural rebel, that ought to extend to your management practices as well. They actually have an in-house cook, who probably gives the employees special food to keep them active! The whole promise of technology is “more play, less work,” but what’s happening is precisely the opposite.

What books are you enjoying now? 

I’m reading Marcus Aurelius, because Penguin has just released a reader that only costs 60p. I like his insistence that change is the essence of life, but am less keen on his disavowal of pleasure. He says, in essence, that the fact that you always regret having had a big night out means that doing so must be a bad idea. That seems insane. I prefer to try to banish guilt from my life—even though we’ve been brought up to feel guilty about such things. Excess is a natural human need.

Do you use the Internet?