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

Emilie St Hilaire esthilai at ualberta.ca
Sat May 9 22:45:42 AEST 2015


Hi John and Ben,

I've been following the discussion with interest. Just a brief note, John
you mentioned at the end of your last post how the cam show performers are
working/awaiting reimbursement for their work. This seems like really
interesting territory in relation to labour and again boredom, it ties back
to the plot of "Deep Throat" as you described it from the _Porno Chic_
article. In a way the performer is playing the same role as Linda Lovelace
by being bored.

Rather than viewing pleasure as antithetical to the boring I'm considering
the interesting as the not boring. The interesting can be engaging without
necessarily being pleasurable, such as challenging intellectual pursuits.
>From _Essays on Boredom and Modernity_ by Barbara Dalle Pezze and Carlo
Salzani "The term interesting, in its current sense, appeared at the same
time as to bore, in the late eighteenth century, and seems to be strictly
related to it."(10)

- Emilie St.Hilaire


On Fri, May 8, 2015 at 3:30 PM, John Stadler <john.paul.stadler at gmail.com>
wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hey Ben,
>
> You asked:
>
> > Does this imply that before modernity all moments of time were filled
> > with task-oriented behaviours? Or that there was no conceptualization of
> > the difference between task and non-task? Does modernity mark the
> > construction of the notion of tasks (as units of activity)?
>
> > What is the relation between boredom and rest? Does boredom always
> > involve a task that is momentarily paused, or a lack of task?
>
> I'm speculating here, because the pre-modern period is not an area I
> study in great depth, but my sense is that the division is not one
> that gets made. I am open to other interpretations, though. This would
> be for the period of time in which one was not alienated from one's
> labor. Something like boredom would perhaps have existed under
> slightly different form as idleness and been regulated more by an
> institution like the church. But with the rise of capitalism, leisure
> time comes to be divided out and a concept of boredom can emerge as a
> kind of uncertainty for how to fill this time, or as a general
> alienation from time itself. I think time is really interesting now,
> especially given the blurring of the lines between work and leisure (I
> say as I write this from my patio, having just played frisbee with my
> dogs).
>
> This gets perhaps to your point of wanting to know the relation
> between boredom and rest. I think that as work comes to colonize the
> space of leisure (and vice versa), the imperative toward productivity
> comes to police the space of rest, such that, inactivity and behavior
> without a clear orientation toward a task becomes viewed pejoratively.
> It's non-productive of capital, and so boredom very much is a problem
> (I think). But is it just a problem for capitalism?
>
> You also asked:
>
> > What is the role of desensitization here? Does not all pornography
> > eventually become boring once experienced sufficient times?
>
> I think pornography viewed enough times absolutely becomes boring, but
> I also think that the mass customizability of pornography seems to
> want to promise the viewer a more perfect, more unique, more tailored
> form of pornography that is always just around the corner, compelling
> the viewer to go on this quest for the ever more engaging clip or
> film. In this picture, pornography does seem to desensitize us from
> the sense of a norm for sex, because it is largely in the business of
> producing fantasy. It's sex is supposed to be, on some level,
> unrealistic. I think too the general minimization of narrative in
> contemporary pornography and the mechanization of sex acts (always
> orchestrated in some recognizable permutation) are some explanations,
> too, in very mainstream pornography.
>
> I taught a course on pornography last summer to undergraduates,
> though, and what became surprising was just how quickly students
> lodged the complaint of boredom for pornographic films (the first
> screening!) from an era they were unfamiliar with. Of course, viewing
> pornography in an academic setting is very different from viewing
> pornography privately. Boredom in the instance of the classroom might
> also be another way of trying to find a vocabulary for how to speak
> about a form of media that we are largely aware of but taught from an
> early age not to speak of. Clearly there is a different aim in mind,
> where the student were called upon to view the films dispassionately
> and with a critical eye, and the consumer has the aim of pleasure in
> mind. But I think boredom can exist for both kinds of viewers.
>
> I think boredom within pornography is perhaps more interesting to me,
> at this point, where performers seem bored, actions mechanical,
> pleasures faked. In cam shows, for instance, performers can sit in a
> chair for an hour awaiting tokens from viewers in order to perform
> particular sex acts, and this act of waiting (and doing nothing, other
> than responding to a thread of comments) is very much part of the
> pornographic performance and helps to authenticate it as real (even
> while it is coerced by monetary reimbursement in the case of some cam
> shows).
>
> These are just some passing thoughts. I will need to sit with these
> questions longer to give a more thorough answer. Thanks for them,
> though. I've really enjoyed reading your responses!
>
> J
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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