Three Cups: The Anatomy of a Wasted Afternoon
Emmanuel Levinas wrote in his Nine Talmudic Readings that the café is, “a place of casual social intercourse, without mutual responsibility. One goes in not needing to. One sits down without being tired. One drinks without being thirsty... it is because it is possible to go and relax in a café that one tolerates the horrors and injustices of a world without a soul.” The present paper is a philosophical and ethical defence of idleness, loafing and the consumption of coffee. Structured in three acts – each act corresponding to the drinking of one cup of coffee – this chapter takes as its subject an idle afternoon spent in a coffee shop, observing passers-by and contemplating Levinas's stern words. The first act explores in more detail the accusations that Levinas levels against such idle pursuits. The second act then takes a phenomenological turn, looking directly at the “what is it like?” of the afternoon as it unfolds. This leads to the third act, a robust defence – part Epicurean, part phenomenological, and part espresso-fulled – of such idleness, lounging and loafing. Perhaps, after all, it is precisely because it is possible to go and relax in a café that we have the strength to respond to the horrors and injustices of the world.
Citation : Buckingham, W. (2011) Three Cups: The Anatomy of a Wasted Afternoon. In: Parker, S.F. and Austim, M.W. eds. Coffee - Philosophy for Everyone: Grounds for Debate. Wiley. pp. 127-137
ISBN : 978-1444337129
Research Group : English Research Group
Peer Reviewed : Yes
- School of Humanities