The name of this book is an interesting case of misstatement. It is not really about people doing nothing. It rather about people doing something that is not a business or in other words something that nobody wants to pay for and the struggle of two forces in American culture. One force originally represented by Ben Franklin was all about doing something that other people need and would by, that is business. Another force originally represented by Samuel Johnson was all about doing something that nobody needs and/or would buy. Interestingly enough both cases actually involved doing not just something, but a lot. The difference was that in case of “doing nothing” it was anything that one can imagine from writing poetry to growing trees and working very hard in hippy community just for food.
The book contains reports about fates of a long line of individuals who did nothing while managing to leave a significant literature and legends. The list includes quite a few famous American writers throughout history and to this extent it is not that interesting. It is kind of trivial that until big government started robbing regular people on behalf of these geniuses transferring loot to them in form of grants and tenured professorships, they had pretty rough time making living. Much more interesting, at least for me, is detour into life of regular people and their work ethics which was in constant competition with their doing nothing ethics. The review of slow implementation of notions of work day and work week and fight between labor sellers and buyers for extraction of time/value is really interesting and provide quite a bit of non-trivial information.
In short this review of alternative to business strife for self-fulfillment is interesting because it provides some insights into diversity of American culture and uncovers quite exciting potential of this culture to support coming gigantic and dramatic change in paradigm of use of human efforts which quite obviously comes with approaching full automation of all routing jobs. It would be interesting to see how “Doing Nothing” will be converted into extended “Pursuit of Happiness”