‘Irrelevant’ Chris Fogle turns a page. Howard Cardwell turns a page. Ken Wax turns a page. Matt Redgate turns a page. ‘Groovy” Bruce Channing attaches a form to a file. Ann Williams turns a page. Anand Singh turns two pages at once by mistake and turns one back which makes a slightly different sound. David Cusk turns a page. Sandra Pounder turns a page. Robert Atkins turns two separate pages of two separate files at the same time. Ken Wax turns a page. Benedict ‘Grey Vanilla’ Gyger turns a page. Lane Dean Jr. turns a page. Olive Borden turns a page. Christ Acquistipace turns a page. David Cusk turns a page. Rosellen Brown turns a page. Matt Redgate turns a page. R. Jarvis Brown turns a page. Ann Williams sniffs slightly and turns a page. Meredith Rand does something to a cuticle. ‘Irrelevant’ Chris Fogle turns a page.
– D. Wallace, The Pale King, p310
The saying says, yes, in case you don’t know me, in case you don’t know the process of writing, each word is for the most part intentional, or at least so-willed even if its origin is unknown, even unknowable, so, the saying says that only a boring person can be bored. It sounds like a sane, admonitory, can-do mildly encouraging saying with an easy-to-figure-out implication: think or do something un-boring and you will be out of your misery in a breath’s space. Be interesting yourself, have fun however you can, being bored is not your fatum. That is one interpretation I can think of.
My second reading is bleaker. It says something like: certain people are intrinsically, quintessentially boring. There is no way, method or madness by means of which they could possibly escape the lusterless, blood-slowing shackles of boredom. In fact, to a large degree these people are co-extensive with boredom, they are its vectors of infection. If you find yourself in the company of a boring person then you too will be likely to be infected and afflicted by the condition. These people are part of the world and thus so also is boredom. The best that can happen to you [and something you have no say in] is that you yourself happen to genetically, ontologically be an interesting, fun, entertaining person, that ennui is not part of your genetic make-up.
Given the contingent, free-willed nature of the first interpretation I favor it. I used to have the ambition [and it still lingers at the back of my mind] to always think the most beautiful thoughts possible in a language that would be interchangeable with or identical to the one in a good novel [for example Midnight’s Children]. This has turned out to be a bit too difficult. Not just in the sense that it is incredibly cognitively challenging/demanding/exhausting and that trite, repetitive, compulsive thoughts invade the [my] mind very, very frequently. But there is also the question of mental habits: you tend to fall into certain patterns that are superbly difficult to break out of… and thus you fall back onto regular, day-by-day thoughts that lack novelistic rigor and, as we tend to forget new year’s resolutions by mid-January, do not even aspire, the thoughts, to any type of literary aesthetic. They joggle along. We don’t think like that, most of us don’t, perhaps a few good writers have the lovely luck to. And, as we know, there is almost infinity of modes of thinking…
End Zone (Don DeLillo)
– Highlight Loc. 607-9 | Added on Saturday, May 12, 2012, 10:04 AM
I respect Tweego in a way. He thinks in one direction, straight ahead. He just aims and fires. He has ruthlessness of mind. That’s something I respect. I think it’s a distinctly modern characteristic. The systems planner. The management consultant. The nuclear strategist.
Not for me. Lowering my expectations or ambitions, even if not consciously so, I think that I have the nebulous intention to at least have thoughts that are non-boring. That I don’t get bored staying inside my head. Reading good books helps a great deal. Not just because there are stories and characters to keep one’s mind busy and puzzle over after putting away the good-read. There’s also the matter of, in unlikely cases, the authorial voice taking up residence in one of your neo-cortical housing projects and, sort of, declaiming from its rooftops a voice-over on the reality-hood you are walking, breathing, living through. My own proper thoughts splice with the narrato-authorial ones, or so it seems, at times, pleasantly and non-invasive. Not only do I become unalone, I become my new self. Not bored at all, mind you.
But lately keeping boredom at bay has been a battle. It appears to not just be a purely internal condition. There are external circumstances that will permit tedium to infiltrate one’s mind. The last four weeks I have been party to a half-baked arrangement called the summer term. I suppose it makes good sense in this specific context not to bore you with the details. Soon enough I found out that even after years of being AWOL boredom can make an uninvited return, limpidly lifting its grey, fangless lump of a head. The conditions in my case were: four to five day insistence on single topic, topic being a subject one has zero cognitive, affective or intellectual ties to, a thoughtless obligation to group-work ad nauseam, a reader with all the vivacity and intellectual agility of an Asbergerian slime bug, doing all of the afore while the sun is out in cloudless, ultra-photonic blast mode. [I sometimes pride myself on not making my activities slavishly weather-dependent but there are limits. There be boundaries.] These converging conditions even more-or-less bludgeoned my attempts to think the occasional, beautiful thought. Indeed they became biutiful instead, that is, heartrending and anticipatory of grand, cinematic calamity.
Be that as it may, as you have correctly twigged by now, I am not one for writing about boredom. It’s not my cup of coffee nor do I want it to be. Here I am, squandering our time when great minds have already written about it at length, best of whom I am familiar with being Dave Wallace. [Not the Dunder Mifflin guy, though the one who used to use their product if probably perhaps by another brand, admittedly. Tangents, detours, excursi, digressions…the dark-matter tug of entropy inside every text, each sentence even. Can this work? A parenthetical trickster moving in three directions at once? Well, what happens in themzini stays in themzini.] But hey, let me not totally knock boredom for it can have a raw, salutary, redeeming effect, though this be neither the time nor the place.
The pendulum oscillates between these two terms: Suffering–that opens a window on the real and is the main condition of the artistic experience, and Boredom … that must be considered as the most tolerable because the most durable of human evils. – S. Beckett
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