Thursday, August 20, 2009

on boredom

i waited for this book, A Philosophy of Boredom, to come in used at powell's for some time. i finally scored it for $12.50 and there were human bite marks in the cover. lucky for me i draw the line at saliva.

lars svendsen has won my heart with this enlightening read. i initially stumbled upon this title while beginning to research on my own piece about boredom. restlessness has always plagued me, dating back as far as i can remember (see "about me" section). i was thinking about writing a collection of anecdotes about the endless desire to fill my days with literally anything in an attempt to avoid the ailment that is boredom. as a child i felt pigeon-holed by the phrase, "You're only bored if you're boring." i knew i wasn't boring. i knew this because all of the people i knew who were boring were never bored. they were easily amused by anything. and it wasn't that i couldn't be amused as much as it was that those moments of amusement just swept boredom under the rug, they didn't cure it. i always knew it would creep back in. because my boredom wasn't just dissatisfaction with a given situation, it was dissatisfaction with everything.

svendsen defines boredom as an existential crisis that occurs when a need for meaning remains unsatisfied. boredom henceforth presupposes self-awareness, occurring only in a subject that perceives him/herself as an individual demanding a greater meaning from the world and the self. this temporarily boosted my ego, finally discrediting the above cliche that adults force-feed any child that might want/need more out of life than a t.v. twelve inches from their face.

i am only temporarily relieved, though; svendsen ultimately suggests that the search is pointless, as (he believes) there is no greater meaning to be sought. he puts simply, "an awareness of loss doesn't mean anything has actually been lost nor does it mean there is something to be won back." i suppose i have encountered this realization on smaller scales, but have yet to apply it to the grand scheme.

the only cure for boredom suggested in this far from boring study is a general acceptance. one cannot run from a boredom that infects the entire human race. for those of us who have not chosen to fill the eternal void with religion or work or babies or t.v., it is suggested that we simply succumb, that we accept boredom as a fact of life and try to develop a new configuration of self in this acceptance.

"All humans are lonely, some more than others, but no one escapes loneliness. The crucial thing is how it is encountered, whether it is encountered as a restless absence or as a possibility for serenity...In loneliness there is a possibility of being in equilibrium with oneself rather than seeking equilibrium in things and people that have such a high velocity that they constantly slip away."

i am left contemplating my sense of self, trying to make peace with my restlessness, and wondering what made the previous owner of this book bite into the cover. i wasn't at all compelled to do so. hopefully it was extreme joy.

thumbs up, svendsen.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

i'll teach you to be happy! i'll teach your grandmother to suck eggs!

the other day i was thinking about how, as an adult, much of my happiness comes simply from relief—the relief of having gotten a good night's sleep, the relief of the end of the work week, the relief of being regular, etc. this is sad to me. happiness should come from joy, not relief. so i set out to make a list of things that purely bring me joy, coming up with only six answers. which, according to most i've talked to, is about average.
1) dancing with friends, specifically to soul music or bad early nineties dance hits, but really anything,
2) singing loudly to the radio while driving in a car,
3) spontaneously breaking into song with any given company, the more the better,
4) making out,
5) going for late night walks during the summer; better if instigated by someone else, and
6) watching Ghostbusters. 1 or 2, really.

i would say this is a good start.

on friday i unexpectedly had fun driving around aimlessly with stacey, jeff, and noah from minneapolis. it was simple—lunch, ROSS [dress for less], Heathers, and a hideous picture of me in a periwinkle skirt suit—but really fun. and it didn't include anything from the above list. i felt relieved that i am capable of something other than...relief.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

on why i quit facebook and did this instead.

at the end of the eighth grade, mike grande wrote in my yearbook, simply, "Have a good life." nothing else. he was to go off to prep school and chances were i would never see him again. that year brought many of those cases, and i spent many lazy moments that following summer thinking about the reality of having to part with scores of familiar faces, off to bigger, better and navy-blazered futures. i would always look back at the sincerity and genuineness of his message, that hid not behind "have a good summer" or "maybe i'll see you around." to me, it just read, "this is life. get used to it." and so i did.

i recently stumbled upon mike grande on facebook. i instantly requested his friendship, and we wrote brief messages to each other. but after the initial excitement that comes with finding an old friend, i began to feel dissolute. the image of his pencil-scribbled yearbook message kept flashing in my head, and i felt like i was betraying the natural order of things by reconnecting with him. and then i began to survey the motley crew [sic] of people in my friends list—from elementary school, junior high, high school, college, new haven, providence, portland and countless jobs—and i started to feel like i was at my own funeral.

with the internet comes the notion that we never have to part with anyone, that there are now countless ways of "keeping in touch" while exerting little to no effort. i dislike this for two reasons:
one, i am willing to exert effort to keep in touch, and i do so. i call you, or i write you letters, or make you cards, or stop by your work—you know who you are. and i appreciate that you want to do the same for me. i think it means something. the effort, that is.
two, i don't feel the need to keep in touch with everyone. i think saying goodbye and closing doors and compartmentalizing is, well, healthy. hence the dissolution i've recently experienced. i think having everyone i've ever known in one venue is nothing short of confusing. in my head you all mean something distinct and unique. you do not all appear on one list titled: People I Have Known. you belong to different memories and different places, and therefore should not all appear together. it just rapes you of your individuality. and i don't think any of you want to be raped.

so, i deactivated my account, and with concern facebook asked me, "why?" and i replied, "because i don't ever want to see mike grande again." not because i don't like you mike, because it's just the right thing to do.

i moved to a blog because i have a lot to say, a lot more than can fit into an update on facebook. and if anyone wants to read it, awesome. if not, still awesome. i'm writing it for selfish reasons anyway.