Striking a balance between intellectual work and relaxation.

“Intellectual work imposes great tension on the mind and nervous system.  Under pain of nervous exhaustion and sometimes serious psychic illness, it is absolutely mandatory to provide for release of this tension.  Those engaged in intellectual work must be convinced of the primacy of quality over quantity and the impossibility of doing anything worthwhile when overworked or fatigued.  To avoid both of the latter conditions, the intellectual must find a happy balance between work and relaxation.”

~ Ignace Lepp, The Art of Being an Intellectual, 1968


“Sociologists and psychologists rightly call work that demands only physical work “dehumanizing”….

…But exclusively intellectual work is equally dehumanizing.”

~ Ignace Lepp, The Art of Being an Intellectual, 1968


Well, that might explain why I’m feeling a little twitchy lately.

And it reminds me of my earlier post on Intellectualism, Soul and Sensuality.

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
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7 Responses to Striking a balance between intellectual work and relaxation.

  1. ptero9 says:

    I wonder, though, how does one define “intellectual work?”
    …just trying to understand:)

  2. Casey says:

    I define it pretty broadly – engaging in the life of the mind, be it scientific, literary, philosophical, spiritual, etc. Lepp himself was a priest and a psychotherapist.

    • Casey says:

      I’ll try to find the review of the book I had found a while back…

    • Casey says:

      Hmmm…can’t find what I read before…

      Here’s one quote from Chapter 2: A Letter to a Young Intellectual

      “I am of the opinion that the young intellectual should read broadly: novels of all kinds, biographies, history and geography, popular science, and later on, philosophical and theological works. A certain electicism seems desirable in the first stages of intellectual development.”


      “The great scientific minds of our times – Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Pierre Tielhard de Chardin, Jean Rostand, and many others – were informed about philosophy and general culture and in some cases were philosophers in their own right.”

  3. interesting…what stimulates one mind may not stimulate another. Is it the topic or is it the approach that makes it “intellectual”?

    Just thinking aloud 🙂

    • Casey says:

      According to this article from Swarthmore College, I think approach is more important than topic.
      T. Kaori Kitao

      The author kind of pokes fun at him/herself

      “For those who consider themselves intellectuals, an interesting conversation means, of course, taking up certain subjects and discussing them in depth — analytically, critically, and philosophically — or else concentrating on elevated subjects, like ideas, thoughts, and theories as opposed to practical matters. Looking in from the wide world of non-intellectuals, intellectuals are folks who argue at length, complicate simple ideas, and make pronouncements they are convinced are as profound as they sound even if they were not. [LOL] They like big words; so, they talk a lot and describe themselves as loquacious. To be intellectual is perhaps to be academic and engage in academic discourse. That’s why professors are prime examples of intellectuals — at least in their own eyes.

      Discussing the best miter, the simplest way to make bechamel, or the right time to prune hydrangea macrophylla to assure large blossoms in the spring is not considered intellectual though they may be profoundly interesting to those who are interested in these subjects. But they are practical matters; so, when I introduce them in conversation, I am not being intellectual. It seems, then, that an intellectual is not expected to be intellectual all the time but would rather talk intellectually as often as possible.

      But what does it mean, then, to talk intellectually ? Does it mean to discuss philosophy, critical theory, or cultural analysis rather than, say, combustion engine, money market, or Anne Rice’s vampires? But subjects are not the issue because any subject can be discussed analytically and profoundly as I think I do when I discuss, say, tank tops taxonomically in my course, Everyday Things. Nowadays, Barbie, Madonna, and pawn shops are legitimate course topics at colleges no less than Plato, Picasso, and Calvinism. What is intellectual depends on how you treat these subjects. It depends how deep you delve into their substance and what significance you draw from them.

    • Casey says:

      At any rate, I don’t necessarily consider myself an intellectual, but I do like pursuing ideas of all kinds.

      I think for certain people, falling in love with ideas creates a similar biochemical reaction as falling in love with a person does. Well, at least it does for me. You can see my argument here:

      I know, for me, loving people has proved a dodgy experience all my life (I still keep trying though), but by and large, it’s safer for me to expend that intense passion on ideas. I have an addictive personality, but I’ve channeled that into a relatively safe mode of intellectualizing.

      Keeping my mind busy on big ideas helps me from falling apart. I have anxiety, daily, and being a quasi-intellectual helps…until it doesn’t and I fry my system because I’m overstimulated with ideas and not getting enough physical activity to offshoot that energy.

      I might reblog another post of mine because it ties into this and the ideas I’ve had of late.

Would you like to share your thoughts? I'd love to hear them.

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