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

by Christian Parreno

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

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