By Lars Svendsen
It's been defined as a "tame longing with none specific object" by means of Schopenhauer, "a bestial and indefinable affliction" via Dostoevsky, and "time's invasion of your global system" by way of Joseph Brodsky, yet nonetheless only a few people this day can clarify accurately what boredom is. A Philosophy of Boredom investigates one of many vital preoccupations of our age because it probes the character of boredom, the way it originated, how and why it afflicts us, and why we won't appear to triumph over it by means of any act of will.
Lars Svendsen brings jointly observations from philosophy, literature, psychology, theology, and pop culture, interpreting boredom's pre-Romantic manifestations in medieval torpor, philosophical musings on boredom from Pascal to Nietzsche, and smooth explorations into alienation and transgression by means of twentieth-century artists from Beckett to Warhol. A witty and exciting account of our dullest moments and such a lot maddening days, A Philosophy of Boredom will entice someone curious to grasp what lies underneath the overpowering inertia of state of no activity.
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Extra info for A Philosophy of Boredom
There are many different typologies of boredom. 85 I don’t feel this typology is particularly illuminating. It does nothing more than emphasise that one can react passively or actively, and it fails to distinguish qualitatively between various forms of boredom. 86 These four overlap, but there are clear distinctions. Flaubert distinguished between ‘common boredom’ (ennui commun) and ‘modern boredom’ (ennui moderne),87 which, broadly speaking, corresponds to our distinction between situative and existential boredom.
Hegel continues: If the ego remains at this standpoint, everything appears to it as null and vain, except its own subjectivity which therefore becomes hollow and empty and itself mere vanity. But, on the other hand, the ego may, contrariwise, fail to find satisfaction in this self-enjoyment and instead become inadequate to itself, so that it now feels a craving for the solid and the substantial, for specific and essential interests. 44 This leads to an immense boredom and longing, because the I can no longer manage to fill itself, by itself, at the same time as it insists on itself obtaining the content.
We think like Romantics did. 42 Romanticism is not least a kind of fulfilment of the philosophical individualism that continued to develop beyond the eighteenth century. Romanticism is aestheticism. This is, of course, no original assertion, but aestheticism becomes extreme subjectivism. All objective criteria disappear, and the subjective, aesthetic experiencing of the world gains unlimited validity. This, however, rapidly ends up marking time. As Hegel points out in his critique of Romantic irony: 60 Whatever is, is only by the instrumentality of the ego, and whatever exists by my instrumentality I can equally well annihilate again.