BBC Radio 4 has started a new three-part series on The Anatomy of Rest.

The first episode, The Quest for Rest, is being broadcast now. Here’s the abstract:

Rest sounds like a straightforward topic. We think we know what it is. Until you start to look closely and then it’s not so simple. Over the last two years Claudia Hammond has been working at the Wellcome Collection in London as part of a team called Hubbub – a group including psychologists, artists, poets, neuroscientists, musicians, historians and sociologists – all coming together to examine the topic of rest.

In the first of three programmes Claudia attempts to define rest. Is it the absence of work? Does it have to mean doing nothing? Claudia discusses the concept of rest with a historian, a composer, a poet and an English literature scholar.

One of the big ideas is that “rest is not simply a natural state,” as project director Felicity Callard says in the opening minutes of the program. “You need to understand economically the conditions under which certain people can rest, you need to look at how it’s changed historically, you need to look at physiological accounts of rest.” (That’s pretty close to a direct quote, give or take a word or two.)

The next two episodes will talk about rest in the modern world. You can listen online, but it seems impossible to embed the BBC Radio 4 player.

It’s a product of Hubbub, an interdisciplinary exploration of rest at the Wellcome Center that started in 2014. I visited there briefly when I was last in London.

Another product of the project is an exhibit on Rest and its Discontents that will open at the end of the month. I’m going to be in London in mid-November, and hope it’s still open when I’m there.