Perfect boredom

On of the more facile critiques of the idea of heaven is that, what with all the sitting around on clouds strumming harps to no end, it’ll be boring. That’s hardly the true picture of the culture-packed-and-meaningful-work-filled New Jerusalem of the Bible’s final chapters, but one wonders whether there will be room for boredom in a place without sorrow or pain. What will redeemed bordom look like? Perhaps something like this or, more to the point, something like peace: the lion shall laze with the lamb.

There’s something exquisite about boredom. Like melancholy and its darker cousin sadness, boredom is related to emptiness and meaninglessness, but in a perfectly enjoyable way. It’s like wandering though the National Gallery, being surrounded by all those great works of art, and deciding not to look at them because it’s a pleasure just walking from room to room enjoying the squeak of your soles on the polished floor. Boredom is the no-signal sound on a blank television, the closed-down monotone of a radio in the middle of the night. It’s an uninterrupted straight line.

Actually, my idea of boredom has little to do with wealthy surroundings. It’s about a certain mindset. Perfect boredom is the enjoyment of the moment of stasis that comes between slowing down and speeding up – like sitting at a traffic light for a particularly long time. It’s at the cusp of action, because however enjoyable it may be, boredom is really not a long-term aspiration. It’s for an afternoon before a sociable evening. It marks that point in a holiday when you’ve shrugged off all the concerns of work and home, explored the hotel and got used to the swimming pool, and everything has become totally familiar. ‘I’m bored’ just pops into your mind one morning as you’re laying your towel over the sunlounger before breakfast, and then you think ‘How lovely.’ It’s about the stillness and familiarity of that precise moment before the inevitable anxiety about packing up and heading back to God-knows-what.


from “La Vie D’Ennui,” by Colin Bisst, Philosophy Now, February/March 2010 :: via Arts & Letters Daily

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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