Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sayonara, Chinafool

The editor of Beijing Weekend, the English weekly I'm writing a column for, considered my pseudonym Chinafool unbecoming. So I chose a new pseudonym, Beijing Loafer, for both the column and my MSN Spaces mirror blog which the column links to.

Right before I moved to Beijing, I read W. Somerset Maughm's Razor's Edge. In that book, when asked what he planned to do in Paris, Larry replied, "to loaf". That word stuck, and accompanied me for almost two years now in Beijing.

To avoid any possibility of multiple personality disorder, I hereby change my Blogger identity to Beijing Loafer as well.

To Larry, to loaf was to seek. I hope the same for me and all the loafers out there.


Anonymous said...

Origin: 1835

No, this is not the loaf of bread, the staff of life that has been with the English language from the beginning. Our distinctive American contribution is the loaf that does nothing. It took true American genius to invent a new way of passing the time: loafing.

A Philadelphia newspaper declared in 1835, "The propensity to loaf is confined to no rank in life." While workers accused of shirking their duties are often said to loaf, the term can just as easily be applied to those of the leisure class who laze about. So in Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), loaf is used to critical effect, for while slaves are confined on the lower deck of a steamboat, the horror of their fate is heightened by the fact that above them "all went on merrily, as before. Men talked, and loafed, and read, and smoked. Women sewed, and children played, and the boat passed on her way."

And an American genius, Walt Whitman, celebrated loafing in Leaves of Grass (1855):

The related word loafer is even earlier, attested in Utica, New York, in 1830 and New York City in 1835, as well as New Orleans in 1839. Loafer in turn comes from land loper (1785), later land loafer (1836), also meaning "an idle person." It is probably related to German Landläufer, meaning "one who runs along the land."

It is time to loaf a little and bring this entry to a close.

Beijing Loafer said...

Ok ok, can I be a closeted seeker while appearing as a loafer on the outside? :)

Anonymous said...

how come first thing I think about loafer a shoe stlye, you know, the one without the string.

Beijing Loafer said...

Yeah, and that too. I guess loafers could have orginally been desigend by or for loafers. You know, lazy people don't want to tie strings. :0

Ceridwen Devi said...

Half a loaf is better than none!
Google spokesperson (perhaps!)
According to the Dao if we do nothing everything is achieved.

Anonymous said...

The first thing I think about a loafer is someone who avoids work.

By reading your blog I don't have the impression you do that!

Beijing Loafer said...

But my poor mother considers I am, cause I'm not going out there making big bucks with my education. Alas, poor Chinese parents with all their investment in their kids' education...

jl said...

came across someone else who celebrated loafing:

Yeats, Adam's Curse:

We sat together at one summer’s end,
That beautiful mild woman, your close friend,
And you and I, and talked of poetry.
I said, ‘A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.
Better go down upon your marrow-bones
And scrub a kitchen pavement, or break stones
Like an old pauper, in all kinds of weather;
For to articulate sweet sounds together
Is to work harder than all these, and yet
Be thought an idler by the noisy set
Of bankers, schoolmasters, and clergymen
The martyrs call the world.’


Although they do not talk of it at school
That we must labour to be beautiful.’


and for truth, we add:)

happy loafing

Beijing Loafer said...

"must labor to be beautiful." love that