Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Boredom Escapes Us: A Philosophy Abstract, Illustrated

"Against boredom the gods themselves fight in vain." ~ Nietzsche

This is the Abstract for a paper that I stumbled upon titled
 Doctor of Philosophy, 2009 
Lesley Kenny 
Department of Sociology University of Toronto

Few sociologists have addressed the concept of boredom despite interest in the subject and experience of boredom from psychology, philosophy, the arts and popular culture. Classical sociological concepts of alienation, anomie and disenchantment are related to boredom, but do not address it directly. The history of the word boredom itself is not clear, though it appears it was first used in the late 19th century. Most authors agree that an increase in individualism and the concomitant rise in secularization, combined with industrial changes in labour and increased bureaucracy, help to explain a perceived increase in the experience of boredom. This dissertation is a phenomenological exploration of boredom, informed by the writings of Martin Heidegger and Walter Benjamin on the subject. Inspired by Benjamin's method of literary montage, from his monumental Passagenwerk, I construct a cultural collage of the subject of boredom. I use the metaphor of storeys (the levels of a building) as an organizing device to construct the empirical work of this project. These storeys include a consideration and analysis of: billboards, internet advertising, the reflections of an overseas development worker, art installations, a poem, a greeting card, a play, song lyrics and Kafka's short story character, the hunger artist. Each storey serves to inspire a sociological meditation on the subject of boredom, all of which are grounded in the historical, social and philosophical reviews in the first four chapters. These extensive reviews, as well as the eleven storeys, contribute a preliminary sociological analysis of the ambiguous yet ubiquitous experience of boredom in modernity.

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“Boredom may become Western man’s greatest source of unhappiness." --Robert Nisbet

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“... millions long for immortality who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” ~Susan Ertz

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"I am convinced that boredom is one of the greatest tortures. If I were to imagine Hell, it would be the place where you were continually bored." –Erich Fromm

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Little things that no one needs
-- Little things to joke about --
Little landscapes, done in beads.
Little morals woven out,
Little wreaths of gilded grass,
Little brigs of whittled oak
Bottled painfully in glass;
These are made by lonely folk.

Lonely folk have lines of days
Long and faltering and thin;
Therefore -- little wax bouquets,
Prayers cut upon a pin,
Little maps of pinkish lands,
Little charts of curly seas,
Little plats of linen strands,
Little verses, such as these.

Dorothy Parker

Find a pdf of the full PhD Thesis here.  

Are we living Passionately with Purpose
or are we simply keeping busy to stave off boredom?

1 comment:

LEWagner said...

I think the best (only) way we can defeat boredom is to keep constantly engaging with the real-life issues that surround us (instead of constantly avoiding them).