“What is a hobby anyway? Where is the line of demarcation between hobbies and ordinary normal pursuits? I have been unable to answer this question to my own satisfaction. At first blush I am tempted to conclude that a satisfactory hobby must be in large degree useless, inefficient, laborious, or irrelevant. Certainly many of our most satisfying avocations today consist of making something by hand which machines can usually make more quickly and cheaply, and sometimes better. Nevertheless I must in fairness admit that in a different age the mere fashioning of a machine might have been an excellent hobby... Today the invention of a new machine, however noteworthy to industry, would, as a hobby, be trite stuff. Perhaps we have here the real inwardness of our own question: A hobby is a defiance of the contemporary. It is an assertion of those permanent values which the momentary eddies of social evolution have contravened or overlooked. If this is true, then we may also say that every hobbyist is inherently a radical, and that his tribe is inherently a minority.
Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There

Hobbies are at their core useless. They carry no inherent value except for what we assign on them. There's an individualistic charm associated with what people occupy their free time with. Some are more superficial like TV, while I consider the "endgame" to be old people hobbies. Shuffling corpses slowly racing to the grave, the elderly have mastered the art of achieving thorough gratification in the mundane. And at it's core, that's what hobbies are all about: Finding something compelling in the obsolescent and negligible.

I've always made an effort to gravitate towards useful, pragmatic hobbies. I'm always listening to something in the background so headphones. Can't go out naked every day so I make my own clothing. Shaving fucking sucks so might as well explore safety razors. I take my enjoyment far beyond subsistence, to something that reflects my preferences and tastes. As I buy used most of the time, I end up saving money and come away with greater satisfaction compared to something cheap and transient. There is a paradox in realizing pragmatism though. I really enjoy interior design, but it's by no means accessible to my lowly hovel. For those interests that are conceptualizations only, it's a bit hard to maintain interest without some sort of feedback. Same deal with airsoft. Tinkering with guns and collecting gear is fun but, going out to play is a rarity. You start to frame your rather expensive efforts as occuring in a vaccum. My contractor friend maintains sketches of his "perfect house," which is a fantasic idea for channeling your tastes and creativity. I try to clear any ambiguities in taste and preferences. While the hobby may not be realized, there's various ways of branching out and deriving something from that experience. Here's some of my ideologies regarding the more materialistic hobbies.

That said, I can't say I completely sympathize with the rest of Leopold's quote:

This, however, is serious: Becoming serious is a grievous fault in hobbyists. It is an axiom that no hobby should either seek or need rational justification. To wish to do it is reason enough. To find reasons why it is useful or beneficial converts it at once from an avocation into an industry–lowers it at once to the ignominious category of an 'exercise' undertaken for health, power, or profit. Lifting dumbbells is not a hobby. It is a confession of subservience, not an assertion of liberty.”

Boiling your interests down to some kind of "bottom line" will surely cannibalize any sort of gratification. There's a certian emotional detatchment that occurs with hobbies, and questioning the true pragmatism of a time and money sink will only make you miserable. If health, power, or profit is merely a tertiary byproduct, then I can't see how that can impede your enjoyment.

You also at some point, reach the apex of your engagement. You cross off a materialistic goal or habitutation sets in. The easiest example would be videogames. Narrative or progress-based games like Fire Emblem cease to be engaging after you finish the story or after you max out all your characters. Gameplay-centric games burn you out once you get habituated to going through the motions.

Is there any alternative to abandonment? Can hobbies meld and transform, or alternatively can you frame them difficulty as to derive a different pipeline of gratification? fuck if i know.

Created: 1/21/2019

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