[-empyre-] All call: subscribers interested in Boredom: Labor, Use and Time

Erin Obodiac emo57 at cornell.edu
Thu May 28 08:23:31 AEST 2015

Hi, Renate, I don't think I have the hang of posting yet.  I sent this yesterday and it's not in the empyre archive and it didn't appear in my email inbox:

To clarify, I’m not so much interested in whether a particular film is boring or not, but in the idea that as an assemblage of time and vision and hearing understood via Dasein, Heidegger’s concept of profound boredom could be understood as having a “cinematic” structure.  Cinema, then, would be the media technological analogue of the concept of profound boredom.  Alternately, we might investigate the way that cinema is structured by boredom, in the Heideggerian sense.  To do this, I would like to turn to Part One (just chapter one for today) of *The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics*, which analyzes boredom (Langeweile) as the fundamental attunement of “our contemporary situation.”

Part One
Awakening a Fundamental Attunement in Our Philosophizing
Chapter One
Already Heidegger’s term attunement is of interest.  We might liken it Kant’s use of the term attunement in the third Critique to describe the interrelation of the faculties in aesthetic reflective judgment.  We might, therefore, also think about a counter-term, perhaps discord, to accompany attunement.  Heidegger also uses the figure of awakening in relation to attunement, yet distinguishes it from consciousness.  We know that with Heidegger’s existential analytic we are always outside the metaphysics of consciousness and in the realm of Dasein, what Heidegger here specifically calls contemporary Dasein.  He takes stock of the “contemporary situation” and concludes that “profound boredom” is the “concealed fundamental attunement" of our contemporaneity.    
Attunement cannot be objectively ascertained like “the colour of the hair and the skin of human beings” (60).  The counter-example Heidegger employs here to distinguish what attunement might be alerts us to a strategy of ascertaining difference in a relational manner or one that is already “attuned” or in accord with the attunement.  Attunement cannot be observed or ascertained but only awakened, which means “letting whatever is sleeping become wakeful” (60).  These figures of sleeping and awakening point to a mode of being other than presence and absence; attunement is “there and not there” (60), as with that which is asleep.  Heidegger does not want to understand this in terms of consciousness and unconsciousness.  Nevertheless, being conscious and not being conscious point to the way that something might be unconsciously there and not consciously there, which happens to Dasein, but not for the stone.  This is not to say, however, that awakening/sleeping can be mapped onto consciousness/unconsciousness.  Sleep can be a form of “extremely animated consciousness” (61).  And Heidegger adds that consciousness destroys attunement, rendering the awakening of attunement closer to unconsciousness than consciousness.  In short, we cannot understand attunement via zoon logon ekhon: awakening is prior to this having or not having reason/consciousness.  Can entities other than Dasein be awakened?  “We do not say that the stone is asleep or awake [except poetically/figuratively].  Yet what about the plant?  Here already we are uncertain” (62).  Heidegger notes that for Aristotle sleep is a way of “being bound” (62), a way that perception is bound, therefore we might associate awakeness with being unbound, with unbound perception.  
Heidegger prefers the terms being-there and being-away to (un)consciousness.  Attunement is there and not-there.  The ineffability of attunement might suggest that it is akin to feeling (and affect?).
The example of the attunement of grief –a way of being toward everything—demonstrates that attunement is relational and that it is neither inside nor outside.  It is a way of being in the world in its entirety.  Heidegger uses the figures of accessibility and inaccessibility.  Attunement might be considered Heidegger’s theory of affect (he might say: a mood, an atmosphere).  Attunement sets the tone, the manner, and way of being; it is a way (Weise, related to melody and, hence, itself a musicological term like attunement) of being.  Attunement is not a what but a way, yet it is also “subsistence and possibility” (67).   Heidegger goes as far as to say that attunement is the “medium” (68) of “thinking, doing, and acting” (67).  That attunement is the “medium” of thinking, acting, and doing is my point of entry into a medial and technological reading of attunement, one that also offers a different understanding of medium or media, one that is not, perhaps, about material substrate or platform or device, but about relationality, manner, and way.  
Heidegger then asks about the fundamental attunement of our contemporary situation and poses the question of the we.  He characterizes it through four interpretations (via Spengler, Klages, Scheler, and Ziegler, who derive their positions from Nietzsche’s Apollonian/Dionysian opposition): the decline of spirit, the return to life, the balancing of spirit and life, and the sublation of life and spirit.  Heidegger states that we should understand spirit here as the Apollonian and life as the Dionysian, as set forth in Nietzsche’s work.  He makes use of this schema to “diagnosis” the contemporary situation, and concludes that “we ourselves have become bored with ourselves” (77).  The prognosis is that we will find ourselves in the fundamental attunement of our contemporaneity: “profound boredom” (77).

Erin Obodiac
(chapter two tomorrow!)

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