By Lars Svendsen
It's been defined as a "tame longing with none specific object" by way of Schopenhauer, "a bestial and indefinable affliction" through Dostoevsky, and "time's invasion of your international system" through Joseph Brodsky, yet nonetheless only a few folks this day can clarify accurately what boredom is. A Philosophy of Boredom investigates one of many critical 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 through any act of will.
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 sleek explorations into alienation and transgression by way of 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 an individual curious to grasp what lies underneath the overpowering inertia of inaction.
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Extra info for A Philosophy of Boredom
Naturally, I am not of the opinion that a number of brilliant young minds in Jena – Hölderlin, Novalis, Tieck, Schlegel, etc. – were the origins of all later misery. It is rather that here we find an unusually well-defined formulation of a mode of thought that has been widespread over the past 200 to 250 years. 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.
67 For us ‘Romantics’, things are more problematic, for even though we often embrace collectivist modes of thought, such as nationalism, they always ultimately appear to be sadly insufficient. Of course, there is still meaning, but there seems to be less of it. Information, on the other hand, there is plenty of. Modern media have made an enormous search for knowledge possible – something that undeniably has positive aspects, but by far the most of it is irrelevant noise. If, on the other hand, we choose to use the word ‘meaning’ in a broad sense, there is no lack of meaning in the world – there is a superabundance.
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. It is, however, not altogether easy to determine the boredom that afflicts the characters in Flaubert’s novels in relation to this division.