Friday, December 2, 2011

The Cunning of Boredom

An axiom: people enjoy everything they do. If we're invested in something, it is because we enjoy it. It's unconscious. If you are doing something, it is because on some level, you unconsciously enjoy doing it. If we can't enjoy something, it isn't on our radar. It is uninteresting; it is boring. Anyone of us could probably find some pleasure in, say, being a rock climber, but the vast majority have no investment in it. Many of us might find enjoyment in thinking about being a rock climber, but that enjoyment is enough, and the actual work of learning to climb is boring to us.

People definitely enjoy being in shitty situations. All things being equal, shitty situations can be changed with enough effort or imagination or solicited help from others. The guy sitting on his couch enjoys being depressed; if he didn't, he'd get up and do something. Being depressed is just about the worst feeling in the world; on a conscious level, it is nothing but suffering.

So let's say we can consciously suffer from things that we unconsciously enjoy.

A second axiom: While the only motivating force for action is unconscious enjoyment, there is no one thing that humans inherently enjoy. There is nothing in the world that demands our investment, there is nothing that we have an obligation to enjoy. No one thing needs to be on our radar. We do not need to consciously suffer from the unconscious enjoyment of something shitty. Neither do we need to find conscious pleasure in any one thing.

The upshot: all our unconscious enjoyments are bordered by boredom. Boredom is the complete absence of unconscious enjoyment. And that border is always movable. Enjoyment is always surrounded and defined by boredom. Boredom is the assurance that our enjoyments can change.

Enjoyment lies to us and tells us that we will never change. Boredom lurks in our peripheral vision, telling us the arbitrary object of our enjoyment is just that: arbitrary.

1 comment:

  1. This is such a promising piece. I wonder if there is any point in responding to it after this time. You've opened my eyes to seeing that boredom is stuff that occurs in our peripheral vision, so to speak. So for example, to take the immediate context in which you and I are having this (possible) conversation, boredom is those millions of blogs I would ignore, never dream of engaging with.

    Whereas yours give the lie to "Nothing to see here, move along."

    PS I found you after googling Georges Bataille Theory of Religion. That too was promising.