More Notes on Boredom
When I’m bored there’s a struggle going on. There’s something doing something to me: the effect in me of the boring thing; and there’s me doing something to me, which is similar in some ways, but not the same. The boring thing I am experiencing does its best to get into me and disconnect me from myself, and I resist by trying to keep being be me; me doing something to me involves me trying not to become disconnected from myself, and then disconnecting … for reasons I shall try and explore here.
Boredom is a stultifying process: one involving deprivation of freedom, frustration, negation, and neutralization. It is like a kind of anaesthetic. A sedative against the pain of me being overwhelmed by the boring thing, and against me being or remaining me because in doing that I might cause myself trouble. If I am bored there is somewhere a belief that I must resist, but at the same time an understanding in myself that resistance would prove dangerous. If I stand up and am counted I will be somehow horribly discounted.
Boredom is a form of self-contradiction: snuffing yourself out at the same time as trying to resist a boring thing snuffing you out. Boredom will very rarely happen if you remain in touch with yourself. But if you do that, and let’s think about some potentially boring things, you may find yourself out of a job or a class, or a marriage. Boredom. An angry nuisance: me and it, the boring thing. Who’s to win?
Boredom is likely to fall upon those who cannot both abide by rules and also decide to break them. Unthought servility and unbound aggression offer the ideal conditions for boredom (on both sides: in the person being bored and in the boring thing). It isn’t surprising to find addicts often become bored before they use. Addiction is always an inability to think of something, and then of something else – which is of course the best way to avoid boredom.
There will always be potentially boring situations, for all of us. There will be more for those who have trouble consistently feeling themselves. ‘I don’t feel myself today’ might even be the first sign of boredom.