In a culture where productivity, organization, efficiency are all blindly celebrated as virtues of a “good” or “right” living, idleness and its more dynamic cousin, procrastination, is shamed into anathema. Why, procrastination verges on a disease, an abnormality, that one day could be “cured” by a big pharma product.
However, if we were to believe in multiplicities of ways to be human and normal, then we would be more fleshed out and deeper than we are as social beings in this constrictive society of ours. So, let’s revisit procrastination from a philosophical point of view, guided in this by Texas Tech philosophy professor Costica Bradatan.
In a broader context of idleness, Bradatan says the following of the procrastinator, classically, a person who defers production/action till infinity:
The procrastinator is smitten by the perfect picture of that which is yet to be born; he falls under the spell of all that purity and splendor. What he is beholding is something whole, uncorrupted by time, untainted by the workings of a messed-up world. At the same time, though, the procrastinator is fully aware that all that has to go. No sooner does he get a glimpse of the perfection that precedes actualization than he is doomed to become part of the actualization process himself, to be the one who defaces the ideal and brings into the world a precarious copy, unlike the architect who saves it by burning the plans.
In other words, the procrastinator is not a defective human being, but a person who is hesitant to give physical form to the idea, or a birth, as it were, to what he holds in his mind as an idea. The reason for the hesitation, which is also a resistance, is the belief that once in the world, or in what poet John Milton would call the “tract of time,” the idea will become tainted, ruined by the vagaries of time: decay, ageing, and finally death.
Thus, procrastinators are doers–they refuse to be agents of what they perceive as degradation.
The philosophizing of procrastination is enabled by Gnosticism, a philosophy that values the “nothingness” which precedes all actualization.