By Lars Svendsen
It's been defined as a "tame longing with none specific object" via Schopenhauer, "a bestial and indefinable affliction" through Dostoevsky, and "time's invasion of your global system" via Joseph Brodsky, yet nonetheless only a few folks this present day can clarify accurately what boredom is. A Philosophy of Boredom investigates one of many valuable preoccupations of our age because it probes the character of boredom, the way it originated, how and why it afflicts us, and why we can't appear to triumph over it via any act of will.
Lars Svendsen brings jointly observations from philosophy, literature, psychology, theology, and pop culture, reading boredom's pre-Romantic manifestations in medieval torpor, philosophical musings on boredom from Pascal to Nietzsche, and glossy explorations into alienation and transgression through twentieth-century artists from Beckett to Warhol. A witty and interesting account of our dullest moments and such a lot maddening days, A Philosophy of Boredom will attract someone curious to grasp what lies underneath the overpowering inertia of inaction.
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Additional info for A Philosophy of Boredom
Acedia differed from melancholy by being linked to the soul, whereas melancholy was normally linked to the body. Melancholy becomes ‘natural’, while acedia had stronger moral implications. It is also worth noting that while melancholy is an ambiguous concept that includes both illness and wisdom, acedia remains a purely negative concept. While melancholy can contain its own cure, the cure for acedia always lies outside the state itself – for example, in God or in work. After the fourteenth century acedia was considered less as a sin and more as an illness, but the moral aspects of acedia have, to a certain extent, been taken over by boredom.
Boredom does not have any important societal dimension in Pascal; it should rather be seen as an essential characteristic of man as such. Without God, man is nothing, and boredom is the awareness of this nothingness. Those who encounter their own boredom therefore have far greater self-perception than those who only seek diversions. In boredom, man is completely left to himself, but this is being left to a nothingness, because there does not exist any relationship to anything else. For that reason, suffering is perhaps preferable in a certain sense to boredom, because suffering is at least something.
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. We Romantics need a meaning that we ourselves realize – and the person who is preoccupied with self-realization inevitably has a meaning problem.
A Philosophy of Boredom by Lars Svendsen