Kierkegaard Essays

Kierkegaard Essays-32
They generally amuse others — at times in a certain external way the masses, in a deeper sense their co-initiates.The more thoroughly they bore themselves, the more potent the medium of diversion they offer others, also when the boredom reaches its maximum, since they either die of boredom (the passive category) or shoot themselves out of curiosity (the active category).

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A mistaken, generally eccentric diversion has boredom within itself, and thus it works its way up and manifests itself as immediacy.

Kierkegaard laments that “habit and boredom have gained the upper hand to such a degree” in society and argues that this stems from how deeply boredom is woven into the fabric of our cultural mythology: Adam was bored because he was alone; therefore Eve was created.

Since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population.

Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored together; then Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were bored In a remark at once amusing and disquieting in the context of modern childhood — recently, while playing with my four-year-old niece, she pressed her thumb into the circle portion of my arm tattoo as one would press a device button, expecting it to perform some entertaining animation and being visibly disappointed when it didn’t — Kierkegaard offers an illustrative example of this mythology’s aftermath: How corrupting boredom is, everyone recognizes also with regard to children.

Boredom is the root of evil; it is that which must be held off.

Idleness is not the evil; indeed, it may be said that everyone who lacks a sense for it thereby shows that he has not raised himself to the human level.

Generally, those who do not bore themselves are busy in the world in one way or another, but for that very reason they are, of all people, the most boring of all, the most unbearable…

The other class of human beings, the superior ones, are those who bore themselves…

So what, then, are we to do to protect ourselves against the great evil of boredom?

As its counterpoint, Kierkegaard offers the virtue of “idleness” — a concept he uses much like we use the notion of stillness today, a quality of being necessary for mindful presence with our own lives.


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