Vaudevisuals Bookshelf

Vaudevisuals Bookshelf – “How to do Nothing” by Jenny Odell

Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity . . . doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance. 

So argues artist and critic Jenny Odell in this field guide to doing nothing (at least as capitalism defines it). Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. Once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. 

Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book is a four-course meal in the age of Soylent.

From the New York Times Review:

“Though trained as an artist, Odell has gradually become known for her writing. Her consistent theme is the invasion of the wider world by internet grotesqueries grown in the toxic slime of Amazon, Instagram and other social media platforms. She has a knack for evoking the malaise that comes from feeling surrounded by online things. Like many of us, she would like to get away from that feeling.

Odell suggests that she has done this, semi-successfully, by striking a stance of public refusal and by retraining her attention to focus on her surroundings. She argues that because the internet strips us of our sense of place and time, we can counter its force by resituating ourselves within our physical environment, by becoming closer to the natural world.

Many of the chapters in “How to Do Nothing” consist of Odell methodically setting out an idea that’s key to her philosophy. Among the most important is refusal, which she vividly illustrates through a variety of disciplines. Refusal, she writes, was exemplified by the Greek philosopher Diogenes, whose life’s work was to point out the absurdity of conformity. Refusal was also the staple act of Melville’s Bartleby, one of Odell’s favorite refuseniks (she admires the brilliance of his stock phrase: “I would prefer not to”). And refusal was the fundamental act undertaken in 1934 by a longshoremen’s union that led to a strike that spread from the Bay Area to ports throughout the West Coast.”

To purchase this book:

Cornelia Street Cafe Exhibit Party Photography

“Finding Solitude” Exhibit Closing Party Dec. 5th.



My work explores the connection between places and internal solitude. While capturing these select images, I found myself reflecting upon ideas, plans, and dreams while suddenly realizing I was solo within the cultural landscape minus its inhabitants. I intend to take the viewer to this quiet place of contemplation where the textures, shapes, and light provide a heightened sensation of the solo perspective. From the hush in the light drenched hall of the Louvre in Paris or gritty ancient feel of the Italian hills of Matera, I hope to expose the details of solitude that might be missed in a crowded metropolis.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Finding Solitude

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Come on Dec. 5th and help CELEBRATE!

~ ~~ ~ ~

Art Cornelia Street Cafe Photography

“Finding Solitude” – An Exhibit of Photographs by Jim R Moore



Come and enjoy the delicious wine and great company!

Cornelia Street Cafe

29 Cornelia Street

New York City, NY

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Recommended Reading List

Vaudevisuals Recommended Reading List – “The Wonders of Solitude”

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 1.54.51 PM

THE WONDERS OF SOLITUDE – Edited by Dale Salwak

“A life without a quiet center easily becomes destructive.”

Great book of quotes about the solitary life!



Michael Pedretti – Guest Blogger – On Polivka

The Survivor

Presented at The International Clown-Theatre Congress, -1991

Bolek Polivka, who had presented the Queen and Jester at the 1988 International Movement Theatre Festival, delved into the dark loneliness of man as shaped by the Soviets in The Survivor. In Polivka’s own words, the work “is about solitude, the variations of solitude, the solitude of the mad person, the solitude of the prisoner, the solitude of the survivor on the island, the solitude of the handicap person; it is that kind of solitude I am crossing.”   The audience was enthralled with the complexity of Polivka’s clown who was in fact all of these things and more. They identified with man as survivor, going it mostly alone, but surviving all the same.

Defining the clown at a panel discussion, Polivka stated “To me the clown is a way of thinking; a way how to understand the world. As children are playing, they are playing for to understand our world. The clowns are playing for that reason; to test, to understand what the world is and to show it to other human beings.”

Michael Pedretti, Delighting the Senses, Unpublished Manuscript

Photograph of Polivka © 2008 Jim Moore – To see more of Polivka on YouTube.