[-empyre-] Technology and Boredom and what about literature?

Emilie St Hilaire esthilai at ualberta.ca
Thu May 14 22:47:46 AEST 2015

Hi Ben, I am responding, disagreeing, then agreeing with you:

"We are bored when we are simply not experiencing anything
beyond our expectations."

I felt bored yesterday when my reality was below my expectations. To
experience something beyond my expectations would be exciting, but my
boredom is more dependent on my expectations than on the world meeting or
exceeding them.

"I can see how meditation removes the values we attach to events,
thoughts, etc. but if we consider boredom as a state where reality and
exceptions agree, then it seems meditation would be an acceptance,
rather than 'antidote' to boredom."

I would say meditation practice and philosophy would shift values more than
remove them. An event could simply be appreciated differently, beyond
positive or negative attributes.
When reality and expectations agree I would be content, not bored.
Meditation as an acceptance of boredom - yes! To me this also qualifies it
as an antidote. Whereas a more direct 'antidote' would be to take up some
exciting activity, meditation could present interesting stimuli in
precisely the way you suggest here:

"I can imagine that meditative focus on self-control and detachment to
predictions could be an antidote to lack. This could be manifest by
shifting the level of abstraction in other other direction; moving
attention to smaller and smaller details that emphasize the uniqueness
of each moment and each individual."

On fantasy-
I would place fantasy in direct opposition to meditation. In meditation I
let go of thoughts, desires, and qualifications such as positive and
negative. In fantasy I follow desire and creatively pursue further desire
through imagination.

On the body-
I don't wish to invoke dualistic thinking but I wonder about the body, for
example during mind wandering, fantasy and meditation. During meditation
one should be attuned to the positioning and sensations of the body. This
kind of grounding seems to have an effect against day dreaming, by
remaining in the present moment. Conversely, during task-oriented behaviour
it's harder to concentrate when there is sensory stimuli presenting
distractions (pain or noise for example). Similarly, it's difficult to
enjoy pleasant sensory stimuli when the mind is preoccupied. I think
boredom is often the instance of a simultaneous lack of mental and physical

When bored I often feel the need to move my body around. The term antsy is
derived from the expression having "ants in one's pants" which supports
this need to move around when impatient. Movement can create sensory

Final thought: the German word for boredom is Langeweile which literally
means long while. Here boredom relates to time specifically, which we've
discussed a bit but I found this interesting.


On Wed, May 13, 2015 at 5:24 PM, B. Bogart <ben at ekran.org> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hello Emilie,
> I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts on control in meditation in
> relation to fantasy, as discussed in the other thread.
> You write:
> > From here I wonder if anyone has thoughts on how the body plays a role
> > in boredom, attention and awareness? Do the senses offer an embodied
> > awareness that can shift one out of boredom or mind wandering?
> This seems to imply dualism? Is the brain the body?
> I think of cognition as largely a process of learning to ignore
> stability in the world, and thus the senses. We habituate in order to be
> numb to the continuous stimulus the senses provide. At the same time
> there is such a thing as sensory adaption (e.g. the warm and cold bowls
> trick) where even at the lowest level of sensation, our cells learn not
> to produce signals when they are continuously stimulated. It's the
> reason we don't see the blood vessels in front of our retinas. It seems
> that even without cognition, our bodies attempt to erase stability.
> It seems plausible that habituation and sensory adaptation be the
> biological roots of boredom, and thus fully dependent on sensation at
> the outset.
> As far as I know we do adapt to pain, but it never disappears from our
> experience the way the retinal vessels do. Are there other exceptions to
> habituation and sensory adaptation?
> I also wonder about PTSD, where emotionally negative internal
> simulations cause significant distraction and discomfort. Sufferers
> don't seem to habituate to reliving traumatic events. Why not? It seems
> there is something different in internal experience compared to our
> sensory experience.
> Ben
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

Emilie St.Hilaire
Research and Accreditation Coordinator
Alberta School of Business, 3-30Q Business Building
University of Alberta, T6G 2R6
(780) 492-3054
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