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

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Sat May 9 10:40:07 AEST 2015


Hi Ben, am I correct in assuming that in your argument you are attaching a
positive bias to task-oriented activity and an negative one to mind
wandering. Unless I am misunderstanding you, the backbone of your argument
is base on this bias.

Let me ask you this question: do you see (or make) a distinction between
mind wandering and day dreaming? As a corollary to this question: can a day
dreamer ever be bored *during* daydreaming?

Let me try to clarify what I mean by my perceived bias:

"It seems to me (this is all totally off the top of my head with no
empirical basis at all) that the label for a person who is overly
task-oriented (overly engaged in stimulus rather than simulation) could
be attention deficit / hyperactive. Attention seems to require stepping
away from the current unique complexity of a moment and emphasize the
broader context, i.e. the task we're supposed to be doing (e.g. learn,
pay attention, etc.). This could also be related to granularity,
attending to tiny details and not the big picture by ignoring those
inconsequential details. I expect such a person would be reactionary,
maybe even extroverted. Perhaps they don't startle easily, because they
attend to all the details and less often the context."

You are saying that "attention seems to require stepping
away from the current unique complexity of a moment and emphasize the
broader context." In a more subtle and significant way, isn't the opposite
true? The real focus implies the ability to notice the unexpected, what
does not fit the picture. Are these not moments of greater creativity,
openness, ability to think "non-task" fashion, out of the box, what Keats
calls "negative capability"? In that way the passivity of negative
capability/day dreaming  implies a different kind of focus.

In my view, the watcher of pornography escapes boredom through daydreaming,
which escapes (though elicited and stirred by them) the repetitive,
ritualized set sequences of pornographic acts. It seems to me it is in the
interchange between the mind and charged (in what way?), mechanical acts
that pornographic pleasure/excitement is created. Marquis de Sade's
ritualized fantasies which at moments have the permutations of mathematics
(both "algorithmic" and orgasmic) are examples of that.

John, you write: "In contemporary pornography, the non-event (what I would
characterize
as the non-sexual scenario) within pornography presents a unique
function, which in amateur and cam shows I believe authenticates these
pornographies as genuine..."

When you say, "the non-event... authenticates... pornographies as genuine,"
are you implying something akin to what I am referring as escape?

Ciao,
Murat



On Fri, May 8, 2015 at 5:30 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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>
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