On Space

Boredom, Architecture and Modernity

5 September 1782: On this Site Nothing Happened, Holborn, London

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43 Old Gloucester Street, Holborn, London. 7 September 2016. Photographs by Christian Parreno

Structures of Resting and Waiting: Porters in Nineteenth-Century London

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Piccadilly, London. 3 August 2016. Photograph by Christian Parreno

‘At the suggestion of RA Slaney Esq who for 20 years represented Shrewsbury in Parliament, this porters rest was erected in 1861 by the vestry of St George Hanover Square for the benefit of porters and others carrying burden as a relic of a past period in London’s history. It is hoped that the the people will aid its preservation’.

The Bored Young Man: On College Professors

[…]

A little boy across the aisle was perched on the edge of his chars, eagerly reading the comic strops over an old man’s shoulder. Kids were funny. They got so enthusiastic about such trivial things – dogs and circuses and funny papers.

College profs were about the same. They became enthusiastic about Keats, Shakespeare, or the pronunciation of French. They were always  talking about ‘the proper relations of things’ and ‘fundamental truths’. The bored young man had once assumed that these expressions meant something, though he had never listened to the professors long enough to discover just that. He knew now that they really meant nothing.

College professors were supposed to be intelligent, but he found them stupid. They were so easily outwitted. He had made a ‘C’ once in a course for which he had not spent an hour’s study, by copying from a crib prepared by the girl who sat next to him. He was rather proud of this; it was a record.

The Bored Young Man

Arleen Wilson, ‘The Bored Young Man’ in Manuscripts, Vol. 3 (1935).

Pure Drudgery: Peter Marino’s Advice

The first 20 years of an architect’s career is pure drudgery. My advice to young kids is, ‘Look, probably not more than five per cent – and that’s a big percentage – of your working hours are actually going to be spent being creative. If the creative part is essential to you then stay in the world of fine art’.

Peter Marino and Ben Mitchell. “What I’ve Learned”. Esquire, 2016. 63

W. Benjamin’s Boredom (1): A Dream Bird

There is nothing that commends a story to memory more effectively than that chaste compactness which precludes psychological analysis. And the more natural the process by which the storyteller forgoes psychological shading the greater becomes the story’s claim to a place in the memory of the listener, the more completely is it integrated into his own experience, the greater will be his inclination to repeat it to someone else someday, sooner or later. This process of assimilation, which takes place in depth, requires a state of physical relaxation which is becoming rarer and rares. If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away. His nesting places – the activities that are intimately associated with boredom – are already extinct in the cities and are declining in the country as well.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Storyteller: Reflections on the Works of Nikolai Leskov.” In The Novel: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1900-2000, edited by Dorothy Hale. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. 366-67

The Storyteller