Wednesday, January 11, 2006

from The Most High, Aminadab and The Infinite Conversation

"In every room there's a constant coming and going of the most serious working people, an extraordinary buzzing of activity, everyone's busy, and yet the visitor is struck by something sad and useless, as if everyone were yawning in idleness and boredom."

-Maurice Blanchot, The Most High
"With the exception of a few who lost their senses and who had to be reduced to silence, most everyone was on their best behavior, and we witnessed a great effort of solidarity, concord and mutual aid that established a new atmosphere in the house. Nevertheless, although nearly everyone enjoyed a pleasure and comfort they had never known before, no one was happy. Something was missing. Boredom cast its shadow over people's faces. We did not know why the days remained empty, or why, on rising in the morning, we thought with such melancholy of the long hours we would have to live through before the consolation of sleep. At the same time, we began to observe some strange phenomena, or that seemed strange at least to our idle, disengaged minds. First there was a relaxation of enthusiasm and of discipline. This was, you might say, very normal. Enthusiasm gave way to half-heartedness; charity and patience gave way to ill will."

"As we discover through the experience of boredom when indeed boredom seems to be the sudden, the insensible apprehension of the quotidian into which we slide in the leveling out of a steady, slack time, feeling ourselves forever sucked in, yet feeling at the same time that we have already lost it and are henceforth incapable of deciding whether there is a lack of the everyday or too much of it––thus held by boredom in boredom, which develops, as Friedrich Schlegel, just as carbon dioxide accumulates in a closed space where too many people find themselves together.

Boredom is the everyday become manifest: consequently, the everyday after it has lost its essential––constitutive––trait of being
unperceived. Thus the everyday always sends us back to that inapparent and nonetheless unconcealed part of existence that is insignificant because it remains always to the hither side of what signifies it; silent, but with a silence that has already dissipated as soon as we keep still in order to hear it, and that we hear better in the idle chatter, in the unspeaking speech that is soft human murmuring in us and around us.

The everyday is the movement by which man, as though without knowing it, holds himself back in human anonymity. In the everyday we have no name, little personal reality, scarcely a figure, just as we have no social determination to sustain or enclose us. To be sure, I work daily; but in the everyday I am not a worker belonging to the class of those who work. The everyday of work tends to draw me apart from that membership in the collectivity of work that founds its truth..."

-The Infinite Conversation


daniel said...

Matt, consider this a call: we need to investigate the transcendental problem of boredom.

I am deadly serious.

Ground Zero said...

Is 'Indolence' of Levinas same as this boredom? Does it have any connection with the 'passivity' of 'author'?

Matt said...

Rajiv, great questions. You might also try here, or here, or here.

Joseph, you look deadly serious.

daniel said...

Actually, on second thoughts, I can't be bothered.