The serious amateur hopes for something more…
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Hunters in the Snow, 1565 (detail)
From 3 Quarks Daily:
The philosopher Theodore Adorno, probably with activities such as reading serious literature and listening to classical music in mind, famously said about himself:
I have no hobby. Not that I am the kind of workaholic who is incapable of doing anything with his free time but applying himself industriously to the required task. But as far as my activities beyond the bounds of my recognized profession are concerned, I take them all, without exception, very seriously.
Adorno in fact describes hobbies as preoccupations that one has “become mindlessly infatuated with in order to kill time.” Many people who engage in some pursuit avidly yet non-professionally might not share Adorno’s condescending attitude towards hobbies, but they often view what they do with something like the same seriousness. Hence they are more likely to describe themselves as “amateur” rather than “recreational” astronomers, geologists, ornithologists, musicians, arists, runners, swimmers, etc.. Mere recreations aim at little more than enjoyment. The very word suggests that the activity is not too demanding and the attitude towards it is fairly relaxed. But the serious amateur seeks or hopes for something more: to win prizes, gain glory, make a contribution to some field, or at least achieve a significant level of accomplishment.