Entropic Boredom: Fog in Heidegger and Dickens

by Christian Parreno

Why do we find no meaning for ourselves anymore, i.e., no essential possibility of being? Is it because an indifference yawns at us out of all things, and indifference whose grounds we do not know? Yet who can speak in such a way when world trade, technology, and the economy seize hold of man and keep him moving? And nevertheless we seek a role for ourselves. What is happening here?, we ask anew. Must we first make ourselves interesting to ourselves again? Why must we do this? Perhaps because ourselves have become bored with ourselves? Is man himself now supposed to have become bored with himself? Why so? Do things ultimately stand in such a way with us that a profound boredom draws back and forth like a silent fog in the abysses of Dasein?

Heidegger, Martin (1995) The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. World, Finitude, Solitude. Translated by William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Original lectures delivered in 1929-30. Indianapolis, IN – USA: Indianapolis University Press. 77

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping, and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ‘prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Dickens, Charles (2002) Bleak House. Firstly published in 1852. New York, NY – USA: The Modern Library.