By Lars Svendsen, John Irons
Lars Svendsen brings jointly observations from philosophy, literature, psychology, theology, and pop culture, studying boredom's pre-Romantic manifestations in medieval torpor, philosophical musings on boredom from Pascal to Nietzsche, and glossy explorations into alienation and transgression by way of twentieth-century artists from Beckett to Warhol. A witty and pleasing account of our dullest moments and such a lot maddening days, A Philosophy of Boredom will attract a person curious to grasp what lies underneath the overpowering inertia of inactivity.
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The best-selling writer of Dinosaur Brains and Neanderthals at paintings once more brings his signature mixture of knowledge, pitch-perfect wit, and dead-on useful recommendation on a topic of outrage to so much modern readers: find out how to retain blood-sucking creatures of darkness from draining you dry.
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Albert J. Bernstein, Ph. D. (Portland, Oregon), is the writer of Dinosaur Brains, Neanderthals at paintings, and Sacred Bull. A medical psychologist, speaker, columnist, and company advisor, Dr. Bernstein is widely known for instructing humans to confront tough and scary occasions with wit, knowledge, grace, and liberal doses of humor.
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Extra resources for A philosophy of boredom
Naturally, it might be tempting simply to refer to alienation, but I prefer instead to talk about an indifference, for I do not believe that the concept of alienation is all that applicable any more. I return to this in the last part of my book. In Milan Kundera’s Identity, one of the characters, Jean-Marc, says: I’d say that the quantity of boredom, if boredom is measurable, is much greater today than it was. Because the old occupations, at least most of them, were unthinkable without a passionate involvement: the peasants in love with their land; my grandfather, the magician of beautiful tables; shoemakers who knew every villager’s feet by heart; the woodsmen; the gardeners; probably even the soldiers killed with passion back then.
It carries out schematism like a service for the customer . . 68 I believe that boredom is the result of a lack of personal meaning, and that this to a great extent is due precisely to the fact that all objects and actions come to us fully coded, while we – as the descendants of Romanticism – insist on a personal meaning. As Rilke wrote in the first of his Duino 31 Elegies, we are not as a matter of course completely at home in the interpreted world. Man is a world-forming being, a being that actively constitutes his own world, but when everything is always already fully coded, the active constituting of the world is made superfluous, and we lose friction in relation to the world.
For earlier societies, things were bearers of continuity and stability, but this is the diametric opposite of the principle of fashion. The principle of fashion is to create an ever more rapid tempo, to make an object superfluous as soon as possible, so as to be able to move on to a new one. Kant was probably right in saying that it is better to be an idiot of fashion than just an idiot,109 but every idiot of fashion will, sooner of later, be let down. And fashion is impersonal by nature. So it cannot supply us with the personal meaning we are striving for.