A quiet life sounds like an option that only the defeated would ever be inclined to praise. Our age is overwhelmingly alive to the benefits of active, dynamic, ‘noisy’ ways of living. If someone offered us a bigger salary for a job elsewhere, we’d move. If someone showed us a route to fame, we’d take it. If someone invited us to a party, we’d go. These seem like pure, unambiguous gains. Lauding a quiet life has some of the eccentricity of praising rain. It’s hard for most of us to contemplate any potential in the idea because the defenders of quiet lives have tended to come from the most implausible sections of the community: slackers, hippies, the work-shy, the fired… people who seem like they have never had a choice about how to arrange their affairs. A quiet life seems like something imposed upon them by their own ineptitude. It is a pitiable consolation prize.