Umberto Eco on Busyness (or the lack thereof)

From Umberto Eco’s “How to Spend Time” (pp. 122-125 in How to Travel with a Salmon):

When I call the dentist to make an appointment and he tells me that he does not have an hour free at any time in the coming week, I believe him. He is a serious professional. But when someone invites me to a conference, or to a roundtable discussion, or asks me to edit a Festschrift, or write an essay, or join a panel of experts, and I say I haven’t time, no one believes me. ‘Come now, Professor,’ he says, ‘a person like yourself can always make time.’ Obviously we humanists are not considered serious professionals; we are idlers.


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