What’s the Point, If We Can’t Have Fun?

My friend June Thunderstorm and I once spent a half an hour sitting in a meadow by a mountain lake, watching an inchworm dangle from the top of a stalk of grass, twist about in every possible direction, and then leap to the next stalk and do the same thing. And so it proceeded, in a vast circle, with what must have been a vast expenditure of energy, for what seemed like absolutely no reason at all.

This is David Graeber on the “play principle at the basis of all physical reality”.

The idea is that everything we do in nature has a play ethic at the heart of it. Only under capitalism (or at least utilitarianism) has this become perverted by the economic imperative.

Remember Will Self’s advice:

Just breathe. Walk. Think. Meditate. I really, really urge you to get out and have a decent walk, preferably to a random destination, one that is not economically compelled. That’s all I really have to say to you.

Do something just for fun, if not everything.

★ Tired of the everyday grind? Pre-order the New Escapologist book today.


Robert Wringham is the editor of New Escapologist. He also writes books and articles. Read more at www.wringham.co.uk/about.

7 Responses to “What’s the Point, If We Can’t Have Fun?”

  1. gregg says:


    i once read of ants being observed to climb to the tops of blades of grass for no apparent reason. scientists studied them and found that the ants had a virus that had taken control of their brains, forcing them to climb the blades, making them much more visible to birds who would eat them and then pick up the virus (the goal of the virus).

    i am not saying or implying that animals do not do things simply for the fun of it. i know that they do. this activity does, however, put the animal at undue risk and hence violates evolutionary theory (which i don’t wholly buy into either). go figure.

    nice site you have, mate.

  2. Mark Wentworth says:

    I walked across Tokyo on Saturday, and from Yokohama to the centre of Tokyo the previous Sunday. I had no pre-planned route, stopped off frequently to admire my surroundings and didn’t even carry a bag. These experiences gave me an exhilarating sense of freedom.

  3. Zainab Usman says:

    How nice to do something just for the fun of it. Walking in Lagos can hardly be fun due to traffic and noise pollution but I do try once in a while. It is really a good way to appreciate the other side of things.

  4. Glad you like the site, Gregg. But it’s nothing! The real excitement is in the magazine.

    I’m afraid you’ve caught me in one of my rare areas of expertise. The ant you’re referring to is the African stink ant: a victim of fungal spores, not a virus. Nobody thought it climbed the tree for fun: it’s an example of evolutionary symbiosis. The ant’s innate behavior is changed by the spore in order to facilitate the fungus’ reproductive cycle. Evolutionary theory remains unviolated.

  5. Its’s Mark Wentworth!

  6. I know what you mean, Zainab. Cars spoil everything. I’ll email you a free PDF version of New Escapologist Issue 3. It contains an essay about the misery of cars and the pleasures of walking.

  7. […] What’s the Point, If We Can’t have Fun? by Robert Wringham at The New Escapologist Need for […]

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