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La Vie D’Ennui

February 19, 2010

Colin Bisset in Philosophy Now:

A friend and I are wandering through the lush gardens of a grand country home. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live somewhere like this?” I ask, stopping to admire the view of the house over its lake. “Summer days on the lawn, grand parties, cocktails.” My friend mutters something about having a social conscience, but I’m not listening. “Lazing about,” I continue. “Wonderfully bored.” My friend’s face swivels towards me like the ventriloquist’s dummy in Magic. “Bored? How could you be bored if you had all that?” he exclaims.

I have always fancied being bored on a huge and stylish scale. I’m talking Great Gatsby boredom, with everyone lying around in white clothes and floppy hats, sipping long drinks with cooling names, and being utterly and divinely bored. How sophisticated can one get, goes my thinking, that even when surrounded by the best things in life, it’s not enough? Boredom wins through.

There’s something exquisite about boredom. Like melancholy and its darker cousin sadness, boredom is related to emptiness and meaninglessness, but in a perfectly enjoyable way. It’s like wandering though the National Gallery, being surrounded by all those great works of art, and deciding not to look at them because it’s a pleasure just walking from room to room enjoying the squeak of your soles on the polished floor. Boredom is the no-signal sound on a blank television, the closed-down monotone of a radio in the middle of the night. It’s an uninterrupted straight line. [More]

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