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

Erin Obodiac emo57 at cornell.edu
Sat May 30 10:59:45 AEST 2015

And, here's chapter four of Heidegger on boredom:

Now and then, as when Heidegger writes, “Following our vacation, we shall now attempt . . . ” (132), the reader is reminded that this discourse was a seminar in 1929/30.  No doubt, Heidegger experienced the first (waiting at a train station circa the impending 1930s Depression) and second (attending a pleasant party circa the end of—the party’s over—1920s) forms of boredom during this specific hiatus, yet he asks in general “whether a profound boredom is a fundamental attunement of contemporary Dasein” (132).  In addition to socio-historically positioning Heidegger’s discourse on boredom, we might also position it in relation to the rest of the book  (The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics) and note that it precedes and frames his famous discussion concerning animality and its poverty in world.  We might assume that the animal cannot be bored, and that boredom is an attunement proper to Dasein alone.  I would like to argue, however, that boredom’s relation to temporality—being in limbo, being empty, dragging and standing still—point to mediations of time that animality and technical entities also interface with.  One point of entry might be that although the second form of boredom comes from within Dasein, the first form comes from “the outside” (133), from things themselves.  Unlike animals, inanimate things, and technical entities, says Heidegger, Dasein has a relation to world, to beings as such, so this comportment, which is the ground of attunement, is foreclosed to them. Though without a proper relation to beings as such, the animal is, nevertheless, open to world.  Heidegger calls this being poor-in-world, and we might wonder if being poor-in-boredom is the animal’s modality of boredom.  So we might ask here, can animals be bored?  And what about machinic entities?  If we keep within the Heideggerian parameters, we should remember that boredom is analyzed outside the concept of consciousness.  Heidegger tells us that with regard to boredom, time must be questioned outside consciousness and subjectivity: “the initial positing of man as consciousness in general, or as a nexus of lived experience or the like—all this must be put into question if a path is to be cleared for us to penetrate into the essence of boredom, and together with it into the essence of time” (134).  
Instead of investigating the psychology of the bored subject or in a subject passing the time, Heidegger suggests a listening “to what profound boredom gives us to understand” (134).  We know that this listening is neither the hearing that belongs to sensory perception nor an understanding that belongs to consciousness: boredom affects our being in a different mode, as an attunement, the attunement of boredom.  The first step is to dissociate boredom from any particular identity or ego and relate it to the there is, the es gibt, the il y a, or, as Heidegger states the “it is boring for one” (135).  His example here is “’it is boring for one’ to walk through the streets of a large city on a Sunday afternoon” (135).  This boredom, he says, “wishes to tell us something” (135).  Profound boredom cannot be shouted down (136) by passing the time, nor can it be not listened to, but it must, says Heidegger, be listened to: “we now have a being compelled to listen” (136).  The command-structure of the call (Ruf) is a familiar motif throughout Heidegger’s work, and here we might venture into the politics of boredom and its authoritarian (?) call.  It seems that profound boredom compels us to listen.  It seems inescapable and relates to the question of “Dasein’s innermost freedom” (136) and “has already transposed us into the realm of power” (136).  The power of profound boredom flattens distinctions: “it makes everything of equally great and equally little worth” (137).  It produces indifference.  
Although Heidegger, in his de rigueur fashion, seeks to understand profound boredom and its originary temporality, we might ask in a Kittleresque manner, what is technologically determining this investigation?  Stiegler’s Technics and Time volumes have fully elaborated Heidegger’s suppression of technics, especially the phonograph, and we might begin here since profound boredom compels us to listen.  
Heidegger introduces the idea of a temporal horizon to address the temporal character of profound boredom.  The temporal horizon entrances Dasein in the attunement of boredom.  The horizon is the temporal totality of beings, and although Heidegger suggests that it is not a scenery or backdrop enfolding beings, we might think about Stiegler’s project and consider the temporal horizon as the totality of tertiary retentions—tertiary mnemotechnics—that constitute time.  In this chapter, Heidegger demonstrates that it is time itself that is entrancing in boredom: entrancing because it both announces/manifests beings and makes possible the refusal of beings, beings that refuse themselves (150).  In this space, a space of freedom, says Heidegger, Dasein discloses itself to itself (149), and this is a moment of vision [Augenblick]: “time is the moment of vision itself” (149).  The idea that self-disclosure is subtended by temporality and vision is a familiar motif in much western philosophy: temporality as the inner sense and self-reflexivity as a mirror-structure often constitute ipseity, subjectivity, and selfhood.  Dasein, of course, is a different animal, and we must understand temporality and vision not in terms of sensory perception or phenomenology, but in terms of Heidegger’s existential analytic.  Yet, I would also like to argue that the pairing of time and vision suggests a cinematographic technics, and it is here that we might pose the question of cinematic boredom, both in the sense of the kind of boredom that belongs to cinema and in the sense that boredom is somehow cinematic.  

Erin Obodiac

More information about the empyre mailing list