The trouble with interesting

Granted, these are the words of Walker Percy’s least likable (and most sociopathic) protagonist. But it’s the line from Lancelot that spurred me to reread it yet again. I’d actually recalled it a little differently: noting the shift from valuing things based on whether we thought they were good or bad, to whether they are interesting or boring.

Yes, interest! The worm of interest. Are you surprised? No? Yes? One conclusion I have reached here after a year in my cell is that the only emotion people feel nowadays is interest or lack of it. Curiosity and interest and boredom have replaced the so-called emotions we used to read about in novels or see registered on actors’ faces. Even the horrors of the age translate into interest. Did you ever watch anybody pick up a newspaper and read the headline PLANE CRASH KILLS THREE HUNDRED? How horrible! says the reader. Is he horrified? No, he is interested. When was the last time you saw anybody horrified?

from Lancelot, by Walker Percy (1977)

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