[-empyre-] Welcome to May: Boredom: Labor, Use and Time

John Stadler john.paul.stadler at gmail.com
Sat May 9 03:57:57 AEST 2015

Hi Ben,

I've really enjoyed reading about boredom from your perspective, and
it makes me keenly aware of the discursive perspectives from we
approach this concept. Part of what makes this engagement so
interesting is bridging across our fields. Here is a quotation from
your first post I found very interesting:

> I expect that boredom is highly correlated with mind wandering, where
> (as John says above) we find ourselves overly able to predict the world
> around us and thus loose interest in it. Under the conception of the
> Integrative Theory, times of boredom would cause shift of attention away
> from the stimuli towards these internal simulations. Once decoupled from
> the constraints of external information, simulations are free to
> progress beyond the fixed context of the here and now.

I’m curious to hear more about the correlation between mind-wandering
and boredom. From your perspective, is all boredom mind-wandering, or
could you distinguishes the two more? I always get stuck at the point
of entry in trying to define the concept, and I'm not sure I'm
satisfied with my own idea of boredom just yet, so I'm curious to hear
more from you on this matter. Is boredom an awareness of
mind-wandering? I’m interested in the moment the subject recognizes
herself/himself as bored and am curious for what accounts for this
recognition, especially if mind wandering is such a prevalent part of
everyday existence.

I’m wondering, too, whether it would be wrong to locate boredom
outside of the self, as in my project where I isolate representations
as themselves boring (there has to be a subject to make that claim),
but maybe I should rethink that. Under your model, would it be fair to
say this phenomenon is always a feedback loop, and that boredom isn’t
perhaps inherent to the subject or to representations, but rather a
continual process between a subject and that subject's interpretation
of outside stimuli (especially in their capacity to form patterns that
become routinized)?

And from your second post:

> Because of this interplay between Dietrich's two modes, I think the key
> is balance and maintaining the freedom to mind wander and being
> task-oriented. I think this probably relates to continuous distraction.
> In these moments of mind wandering many of us reach for the mobile
> device to check messages, play a game, or text and find a
> inconsequential task to accomplish. Perhaps the more distracted we are
> the less we learn to balance mind wandering and task orientation.

Is there any sense for what this balance might be between mind
wandering and task orientation (if we take boredom to be a kind of
excess of mind wandering), or what the phenomenon for one who is
overly task-oriented would be called? Would that just be a workaholic?
I'm wondering if there is an equivalent condition, affect, or
adjective that exists within culture for the other side, and why it is
that boredom arises as a kind of problem to be solved. Or is boredom a
problem? Is it an existential state that merely describes or something
we're always seeking to resolve?



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