On Space

Boredom, Architecture and Modernity

Tag: Modernity

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).

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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

Calvino: The Boredom of the American Inferno

Fortunately America is not all an artificial-natural paradise like California here. A quarter of America is a dramatic, tense, violent country, exploding with contradictions, full of brutal, physiological vitality, and that is the America that I have really loved and love. But a good half of it is a country of boredom, emptiness, monotony, brainless production, and brainless consumption, and this is the American inferno.

Los Angeles, 15 February 1960

Calvino, Italo. ‘Letter to Lanfranco Caretti-Pavia’, in Letters, 1941-1985. Translated by Martin McLaughlin. edited by Michael Wood. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013, 197.

 

Quito: Post-postmodern, Postmodern, or Never Modern

Quito post modern

Torres del Castillo, Quito. December 31, 2015. Photograph by Christian Parreno

Domesticity: Doris Lessing’s Boredom

There is no boredom like that of an intelligent woman who spends all day with a very small child.

Lessing, Doris (2007) in ‘The Great Contrarian’. The Guardian. Interview by Lisa Allardice.

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