Part of my investigation into the sounds and images of emotions – this post covers the emotion of boredom.
The first recorded use of the word boredom is in the novel Bleak House by Charles Dickens, written in 1852, in which it appears six times, although the expression to be a bore had been used in the sense of “to be tiresome or dull” since 1768.
If you have any tunes that capture the feeling for you, or links and images – then please help add to the collection. You can leave a comment with a link, and if you want I can also share the Pinterest Emotion Board (below), or add you to the collaborative Spotify playlist.
In psychology, or if you have kids, there are three types of boredom, all of which involve problems of engagement of attention.
Getting philosophical, Heidegger included about 100 pages on boredom, probably the most extensive philosophical treatment ever of the subject. He focused on waiting at train stations in particular as a major context of boredom. In Kierkegaard‘s remark in Either/Or, that “patience cannot be depicted” visually, since there is a sense that any immediate moment of life may be fundamentally tedious.
On a revolutionary bent, according to Fromm, boredom is “perhaps the most important source of aggression and destructiveness today.” For Fromm, the search for thrills and novelty that characterizes consumer culture are not solutions to boredom, but mere distractions from boredom which, he argues, continues unconsciously..
Always figured this as one of the key factors in the recent London Riots – a view supported by some investigations (Architects or should we say urban planning can take some of the blame here).
A little Psychology
Although it has not been widely studied, research on boredom suggests that boredom is a major factor impacting diverse areas of a person’s life. People ranked low on a boredom-proneness scale were found to have better performance in a wide variety of aspects of their lives, including career, education, and autonomy. Boredom can be a symptom of clinical depression. Boredom can be a form of learned helplessness, a phenomenon closely related to depression. Some philosophies of parenting propose that if children are raised in an environment devoid of stimuli, and are not allowed or encouraged to interact with their environment, they will fail to develop the mental capacities to do so.
Random cultural references
In Chapter 18 of the novel The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1854–1900), the character Lord Henry Wotton says to a young Dorian Gray: “The only horrible thing in the world is ennui, Dorian. That is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness.”
The 1969 Vocational Guidance Counsellor sketch on Monty Python’s Flying Circus established a lasting stereotype of accountants as boring.
The Yellow Pages used to carry an entry under Boring, “See civil engineers” (referring to the “tunnelling” meaning), but this was changed in 1996
Emotional Image Research
If you’d like to help capture this feeling, and contribute to the forthcoming Emote exhibition then add a comment below. You can help by finding great images to exhibit, or add to Spotify Playlist or the Pinterest Emotional Board below: