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

Lyn Goeringer lyn.goeringer at gmail.com
Fri May 15 05:49:11 AEST 2015

Happy to join in!

Ben, you asked for a definition on how I might define boredom. That's
tricky of course (it seems we are all circling a few potential definitions
here, myself included.) Perhaps a bit abstractly, I think of boredom as
lack with stillness- desire for something other than what one is engaged
with, and an inability (that may or may not be temporary) to consciously
initiate a change that might alleviate the discomfort. I am not thinking
about physical stillness here- I am thinking perhaps more about static
modes- things that do not change, or that are highly repetitive, or perhaps
even empty. If I were to connect this idea to analogs in artistic practice,
I immediately think of Andy Warhol's Empire. We are presented with a very
long film comprised of one image that we look at. To watch it straight
through, where it is seemingly unchanging, we are presented with a
meditation on an object. That may be interesting to some, but for many, it
becomes boring. It is boring because it does not adhere to cinematic
structures, it is boring because "nothing happens". It is in this
expectation that we find ourselves wrestling with the sensations of boredom
(lack of stimulus, hope for something else, and a mind resting in a place
where we are uncomfortable because nothing is changing).

When I start to think about what I called the 'lack cycle', I was thinking
a bit about how boredom is self feeding/self perpetuating.

When I used the word antidote, I was (somewhat sloppily) falling into
Buddhist jargon. There is the notion of the five poisons that interfere
with the path to enlightenment, and each of these poisons affects practice
in different ways. the five poisons are: ignorance, desire-attachment (an
attachment to desire), anger/hatred, pride, and jealousy. When teaching
meditation, it is within the combination of ignorance and attachment to
desire that boredom arises. It is ignorance, because we have forgotten the
directions on how to meditate, and we have lost our knowledge of the
process, and it is deeply intrenched in the desire-attachment relationship
because we are approaching the practice through a lens of expectation.
Boredom must be overcome, but, it is a continual cycle because it can and
will arise again. and again. and again.

This relates to what I coined the 'lack cycle' because we return to it over
and over again. With each stage of development we return to deal with our
expectations within that development, and our lack of obtainment, and
cyclically return to this place of expectation.


On Wed, May 13, 2015 at 2:06 PM, B. Bogart <ben at ekran.org> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks for jumping in Lyn!
> You write: "...in anticipation, it requires a moment where expectation
> of an event is delayed beyond our expectations."
> In the framework I'm thinking through in this discussion (where boredom
> is the state when the external world appears to match our predictions
> and offers no surprise, at some level of description and arousal is the
> state where the external world violates our predictions) then it seems
> anticipation is a prediction where the predicted event is desired.
> The notion of delay is interesting here. We continue to expect the event
> to occur, but it does not (immediately) and yet we continue to expect
> it. It seems anticipation is an edge between perceiving signals
> indicating our prediction is correct, and yet does not immediately
> materialize. There also seems to be some degree of abstraction involved
> here, not just expecting that an event will occur, but that it will
> occur within a particular period of time.
> I would expect that focusing away from the signals that reinforce our
> prediction (mind wandering during anticipation) would reduce the
> investment in the desired event. I think anticipation then would depend
> on continuously expecting and fantasizing the desired event.
> I'd like to get a little deeper into this idea of lack and boredom. In
> the framework above, boredom is independent of the value we attach to
> events that occur or not. We are bored when we are simply not
> experiencing anything beyond our expectations. Perhaps lack is related
> to abstraction. At a high level of abstraction everything is
> predictable, while a low level of abstraction makes everything novel and
> unpredictable. It seems we could think of lack as a shift towards higher
> level abstractions where more and more becomes predictable because of
> the lack of attention to details.
> Later you write:
> > meditation sometimes is applied to overcome need, to overcome lack,
> > to overcome desire. (In buddhism, desire is linked to the root of all
> > suffering). If we were to apply meditative practices as an antidote
> > to boredom, we find a different problem, particularly as boredom is a
> > primary obstacle in overcoming itself. I think if this very
> > abstractly as a lack cycle.
> 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. How would you define boredom?
> 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.
> Lyn, could you elaborate on this notion of a "lack cycle"?
> Thanks again Lyn; I really appreciate your comments, and I think this
> link with meditation brings the discussion to some interesting territory.
> Ben
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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