Dear companion, would you like to write about boredom with me? Would you mind if we leave out scientific studies involving cortisol levels, inhibitors, synapses, our neocortices and neurotransmitters. Would you mind it not containing literary quotes by the likes of Schopenhauer, Ciorán, or Sartre? If it becomes a mere piece of reflection, an invitation to our readers to a little mosaic of both genuine and masked expressions? If it lacks the references to tie it firmly into the web of artificial stimulation?
Shall we start?
Do you remember that rainy day when your internet connection was broken and there was nothing on TV. You ran out of booze and smokes. Not even the radio worked. You felt utterly miserable. That might have been as close to boredom as we can get. It seems quite hard to imagine for most 21th century city dwellers that life before the 19th century was anything else than a continuous horrifying pendulum between bare survival and severe boredom. What did these people do?
Have you ever looked at a bored animal in the zoo? I remember an ostrich in the zoo of Belgrade incessantly picking at its own mirror image. I was fascinated by the image. “This is who we are” I thought.
What shall we say being bored is? It’s not just hanging around doing nothing. People have been seen just sitting on chairs, staring in distances, leaning against walls, and when asked if they were bored, they’d reply they never even considered that. They might have been daydreaming, but even if there was nothing going on in their heads, they might have been just fine. Human beings are able, don’t you think, to simply stay put and feel good.
What shall we do about boredom? It seems to me that what driving economic progress, and hence ecological destruction, is a collective attempt to eradicate boredom. The concepts of “Status”, “Newness”, “Convenience” work hand in hand to prevent, fight, and overcome boredom. Or we can be all philosophical about it, contemplating the Void as the Husserlian beginnings of our being-in-the-world. Or we can say something that tastes like rosebuds drenched in an unbearably pungent perfume, of how we can can overcome boredom if we rediscover the joy and mental wealth of the endless possibilities of our personal communication, instead of unwittingly building hierarchies.
We shall respect boredom and write poetry to the caged animals, the perpetually ambulating tigers, the monkeys that tear off their own hairs, and their human equivalents that have become mere in- and output plasma for the industrial machine. And we shall learn from boredom, learn how to approach it, how to endure it, how to fight it. Shall we start?
In our minds we don’t see the walls but we run into them. We are not aware of the ground we are losing under our feet. We can’t describe the hazy clouds around us. We feel some oddly shaped crumbles glue together into tasteless doughnuts that crumble again just before we reach out for them. Rudimentary intentions briefly light up in our skies and we feel they are out of reach without knowing why. An apple is peeled right in front of our eyes, an apple without end, and the peel grows into the ground. Everything changes into a mouth that whispers something like infinitely humble. But we cannot be eaten. We cannot wait for sleep to come, or fear that it won’t. All the rhythms have finished, it’s hard to image that something happened at the time of our birth. There goes a puff of smoke of wonder, alas, unattainable