[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2 on -empyre-: Boredom: Labor, Use and Time
lyn.goeringer at gmail.com
Mon May 11 05:46:02 AEST 2015
Thank you for making our introduction, Renate. It is really nice to be a
part of this discussion.
My interest in boredom comes from a deep interest in essentially the
function of boredom in the workplace, and how we work to challenge and
diverge from our daily routine and attempt to reclaim our own sense of self
when we find work dissatisfying, unchallenging, and, by extension, what
happens when boredom sets in. It's those little moments within our workdays
that we find ourselves mindlessly doing other tasks: scribbling or doodling
on the margins of a piece of paper in a meeting, folding a paper clip, or
doing really any other thing we can. These small moments where we begin to
diverge from the task at hand so that we can maintain some sense of
awareness, or even presence, so that we don't mire in the nothingness that
boredom threatens to make for us.
As John mentioned in last weeks discussion about boredom and it's outcomes
that "It's non-productive of capital, and so boredom very much is a problem (I
think). But is it just a problem for capitalism?”" I would say that it most
certainly is, or at least a problem for contemporary labor practices. Each
moment we are not doing the assigned or intended task, we are, in essence,
'stealing time' from our employers. These moments where we doodle, play
with other items, surreptitiously check Facebook, these are moments when we
steal time, when we create within boredom, a byproduct of labor, to work
for ourselves, to work to escape from things we cannot. In our boredom, we
begin to find a place for ourselves, we make an effort to shift towards
something other, some other state of being, as soon as we acknowledge our
moments of boredom and try to alleviate this.
I can't help while thinking on this topic from the perspective that I've
come to it from (from labor and learning, where people focus on things that
are distinct from the often assigned task at hand) to thinking about
childhood and boredom. Most immediately, I find myself thinking of the zine
Murder Can Be Fun, Issue #17, "naughty children". This comes to mind
because so often childhood delinquency is blamed on 'boredom'. Of course,
the subject of the zine is children who murder, but there is always the
threat of children being mischievous or bad when bored, because they lack
the discipline to not misbehave when bored. I am no expert in children, or
child psychology, but I do find it interesting that before we reach a state
where labor and work is a primary factor in our boredom, boredom was once
assigned to youth as something to avoid at all costs: we must avoid
boredom, lest we become delinquents. Idleness brings us to the devil, as it
I do wonder if this has much to do with contemporary fears and attempts at
assuaging boredom. Without constant occupation, without keeping busy, we
would fall into the devils hands. Or, more contemporary, to be idle would
lead us into a state of non-productivity, and without productivity, we
cannot have equity, we cannot have goods to sell. Production at all costs,
regardless of the needs of the person involved.
I would like to suggest, however, that the function of boredom is actually
a moment of downtime, a moment of void, from which anything could grow. In
meditation practices, it is what is done with boredom that gets
interesting. Boredom becomes a state that the practitioner is expected to
see through to its every possible end: what happens if, in a state of
boredom, we do nothing, and we just accept it? This is an interesting
question. I don't have an answer for it, but it is one of the many states
that must be dealt with. As an active meditation practitioner, I can tell
you that for me, when boredom sets in I get antsy. I want to get up and
move around. It's one of the biggest factors in why people stop meditating.
It is not entertaining.
But what happens on the other side of boredom? That's the question I want
to ask. How can boredom work for us?
Thanks again for having me here, and I look forward to continuing the
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