Friday, March 7, 2008
I have been thinking about this lately after I read a certain blog today. And I did enjoy her entry very much; it was very honest and thus beautiful. I have no time to write much right now but I did find this short article and I am posting it below which seems pretty good to me.
A Brief History of Boredom, by Richard Louv
"The word bored isn't in my vocabulary," some of us remember our grandmothers saying. In fact, the word wasn't in anybody's vocabulary until the nineteenth century, according to Patricia Meyer Spacks, a professor of English at the University of Virginia, and author of Boredom: The Literary History of a State of Mind.
In medieval times, according to Spacks, if someone displayed the symptoms we now identify as boredom, that person was thought to be committing something called acedia, a "dangerous form of spiritual alienation" that devalued the world and its creator. Who had time for such self-indulgence, what with plague, pestilence and the labor of survival? Acedia was considered a sin.
Then came the invention of labor-saving machinery, the valuing of the individual, and the "pursuit of happiness." Forget the sin, now we could afford the emotional state of boredom. And just in time, too. ''If life was never boring in pre-modern times,'' Professor Smacks adds, ''neither was it interesting, thrilling or exciting, in the modern sense of these words.''
At its best, boredom is the font of creativity. Just look what a little forced idleness has produced. If he hadn't been locked up, Martin Luther King would never have written "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." And O. Henry wouldn't have turned out his famous short stories if he hadn't been sent to prison for embezzlement.
Then again, Adolf Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in jail. Boredom can lead to creativity or just plain trouble.
Today, kids pack the malls, pour into the video archives, line up for the scariest, goriest summer movies they can find. Yet, they still complain, "I'm borrrred." Like a sugared drink on a hot day, such entertainment leaves kids thirsting for more�for faster, bigger, more violent stimuli. Experts on childhood point to this insidious, new kind of boredom as one reason for the rising number of psychiatric problems among children and adolescents, according to Ronald Dahl, a professor of pediatrics at the Pittsburgh Medical Center writing in Newsweek. He suggests it also leads to more of doctors prescribing "stimulants to deal with inattentiveness at school or antidepressants to help with the loss of interest and joy in their lives?"
We need to draw an important distinction between a constructively bored mind and a negatively numbed mind."