Monday, June 27, 2011

A Minor Musing on Boredom Written Who Writes Better Than I Do.

Brian Jay Stanley writes a wonderful little meditation on boredom.  I wish I had written it.
Boredom for a subject does not reflect a defect in the subject, but in our understanding of it. In the ears of the ignorant, a foreign language is a monotonous barrage of meaningless intonations, but knowledge of its grammar transforms sound into speech, capable of conveying Shakespeare's or Plato's meaning. The surface of Mars seems to me a tiresome landscape of red dirt, but to an astrophysicist who speaks the obscure language of rocks, it is a crossword puzzle written by the Big Bang. We protest to the passionate not to bore us with details, not realizing that lack of details is precisely what bores us, for details reveal the richness and inner coherence that are invisible from a distance, as a microscope reveals teeming life in a drop of muddy pond water.


Paging through an accounting textbook, walking past a wig shop, or listening to a lecture on early American basket-making, I never say "that is uninteresting" but rather "I am uninterested", for it is always more reasonable to assume that I fail to see what is there than that devotees see what is not there. I love to hear of people devoting their lives to pursuits that sound dull to me, for I know that their enthusiasm is right and my boredom is wrong, and I am happy for the rebuke. I convert my specific boredoms into general fascination with passion's possibilities, reflecting that, under altered alignments of choice and chance, I might have given my days to different causes. There is more worth loving than we have strength to love.


A foolish trope of modernity is that experience leads to disenchantment and ennui. Boredom with life does not result from exhausting life's riches, but from skimming them. Nothing is boring, except people who are bored. [emphasis mine]
The bolded sentence will hang in my classroom.

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