It would be tedious to mention all the different men who have spent the whole of their life over chess or ball or the practice of baking their bodies in the sun. They are not unoccupied whose pleasures are made a busy occupation. For instance, no one will have any doubt that those are laborious triflers who spend their time on useless literary problems, of whom even among the Romans there is now a great number. It was once a foible confined to the Greeks to inquire into what number of rowers Ulysses had, whether the Iliad or the Odyssey was written first, whether moreover they belong to the same author, and various other matters of this stamp, which, if you keep them to yourself, in no way pleasure your secret soul, and, if you publish them, make you seem more of a bore than a scholar. But now this vain passion for learning useless things has assailed the Romans also. – Seneca, On the Shortness of Life, XIII
I abhor the sound of a ticking clock. My great grandparents often babysat me. If my mother was to come after my bedtime I’d be put to rest on a stiff rattan ottoman under a woolen afghan at the far end of the living room next to the fireplace. I would lay there listening to the mantel piece clock tick away the seconds of my life. Each chime would tell me exactly how long I’d been lying there failing to sleep. SDA’s grandfather collected clocks. We have a great number of them around our home and would enjoy having many more. All of them are stopped. I don’t want any such reminders, thank you very much.
Clearly Seneca thinks I’m wasting my time. No, my knowledge doesn’t make any one better off particularly, but the process of acquiring it is certainly immensely pleasurable, certainly more than catching a tan.