Boredom as a Plain Field: Jean-Luc Marion’s Desert that Rises Over the Things of the World

by Christian Parreno

[In this way] boredom distinguishes itself just as much from nihilism and negation as from anxiety: it does not value, nor depreciate; it does not fight, nor predicate; it does not lack beings, nor suffer the assault of the nothing.

How, then, does the power of boredom exert itself? Do we not end up at an impasse where nothing happens, not even the Nothing? To be sure, boredom leads us to an impasse; but is it precisely in that very aporia that boredom holds away. Boredom leaves beings in place, without denying them, depreciating them, or suffering their absent assault. It leaves beings in place, without affecting them, above all without being affected by them; it peaceably and serenely abandons beings to themselves, as if nothing were the matter [comme si de rien n’etait]. But that very abandonment defines it: considering the mute interpellation of beings, of the other, even of Being, it removes itself from them with an equally mute constancy; no wonder ever sets it into ecstasy; boredom defuses the explosion of any call, whatever it might might be; it covers itself, refuses to expose itself, defuses the conflict by deserting the field. Absent to beings, to the other, even to Being, it is not there for anyone, to the point that in a sense the one who yields to boredom no longer is. He no longer is for what is, because he hates what is. Boredom hates – it even takes its French name from that hate: ennui comes from est mihi in odio, to me it is in hate, through the substantive inodium, which assimilates every object to the object of hate. One obviousle should not understand this hate as a passion or an intention, since, precisely, it suspends all passion and all intention. One should much rather understand it as a radical uninterest: the one who yields to boredom and henceforth proceeds from it hates (est mihi in odio) because nothing makes any difference for him (nihil interest mihi); indifference to things provokes their undifferentiation; nothing distinguishes them, since between them and the one who is bored there is nothing; there is nothing among them because there is nothing between them and whoever is bored. The suspension of the world does not manifest any Being-in-the-world but the dissolution of worldhood itself. The bracketing worldly things does not reduce to the region of consciousness, but discovers that all consciousness absents itself. I desert, a desert rises over the things of the world. 

Marion, Jean-Luc (1998) Reduction and Givenness. Investigations of Husserl, Heidegger, and Phenomenology. Translated by Thomas A. Carlson. Evanston, Illinois – USA: Northwestern University Press.

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