Monday, September 11, 2006


In the last few months I’ve been experiencing boredom quite frequently. It is one of those states that I appear to have no magic potion to transform. Tolstoy said that boredom was ‘the desire for desire’. Having never read Tolstoy I wouldn’t know how familiar he was with it. Nor whether reading one of his books induces it. My experience certainly endorses his aphorism. How many times do I restlessly wander the flat looking for something to preoccupy myself with? Eventually I flop down on the sofa and exasperatedly declare my capitulation. Boredom is of its very nature disinterested and disengaged. Boredom is a poison that paralyses and has no immediate antidote.

By nature I am inclined to ignore something so lacking in meaning and drive. I act as though boredom is only a momentary lapse in an otherwise seamless progression of purpose toward something or other. Can this really be so ? Boredom like anything else must arise due to a particular set of conditions. One ends up in a dead end because a while back you took a whole series of wrong turns and ignored all the warning signs. One thing that boredom is not is spontaneous or instinctual in its origins, though it might appear so by its manner of arising.

If I have noticed anything it is that boredom is preceded by one of three things. One, there has been an unacknowledged low level of creative stimulus that slides secretly into boredom. Two, I have been too other regarding with my energy without receiving or giving myself enough to replenish it. Or three, patient endurance turns into exasperation and from there is born the bastard. Either way the result is a feeling of being instantly impoverished. Boredom ,in this sense, arises as the result of previous states of emotional or imaginative under investment. It’s as though your own personal Stock Market crashes, shares lose their value and cease to attract buyers. What I experience as disengagement has the taste and texture born from the desiccation of desire.

It is dashed difficult to distract yourself from being bored. Boredom has a stodgy immovable quality that ,much like quicksand, drags your further down into it the more you whimper and flail. It’s generally better not to make sudden movements mentally or physically and trust that the boredom will pass. Vegetate for as long as possible, preferable in front of a trivial, undemanding piece of celluloid trash. Meet the boredom on it’s own level, forget trying to raise your game. I’ve never found the resources in the moment to create a remedy. When you’ve accidentally fallen down a deep dark well you’re incapable of knowing the way out. What you have to trust in is some damsel arriving with a rope of golden hair. It might be an engaging phone conversation or a meeting with a friend in a cafe. Usually I’m drawn out by such unforeseen events. Something external to me heaves me out of my trough of despond. Leaving conspicuous trails of dark green slime from the bottom of the well distended behind me. A sludgy detritus erased from memory by the sudden rebirth of interest.

1 comment:

Sahananda said...

Very interesting analysis. I had long assumed that boredom was just experiencing one's emotional state without stimulus to distract one into the intelectual, but reading your entry I'm going to think about it some more! (gee, I had to word that last bit carefully)
Love Sahananda