Kant Out Walking

I can understand boredom being an ephemeral impression, a feeling that scratches the membrane that chafes the surface that flickers and distorts. I can understand Arthur Schopenhauer being bored when he has to blow out his candle at nine o’clock at night. I can understand the thinker finding boredom in the everyday world, in the big things as well as the small things. It can be very boring sat down at a desk staring at a computer screen. It can be very boring standing next to a printer waiting for it to print. It can be very boring talking about the weather. It can be boring posting mail, selling fruit, packing boxes, telling the same people over and over again that they are going to jail and it can be boring explaining what is a run-on sentence. It can be very boring staring out of the same window day in and day out. It can be very boring sat on the same bus traveling the same route every morning and every evening. Some men say it is boring sleeping with the same woman night after night and some women say it is boring having to listen to a man boasting about his feats and mettle. I am sure a dog can be bored. My cat is bored of chasing the ball that rings. When I first got the ball the cat went crazy and chased the ball around the apartment, I think the bell inside the ball drove her crazy, now my cat just sits there, licking her paws, I really think she is bored of the ball. I am bored of Mexican food. It was the only food I would entertain when I moved to the USA. I loved Mexican food but now I am bored of Mexican food. I treat food the same way I treat music. I play one song or album over and over again until I cannot stand the song or the album. I don’t know if that means I am bored of the song or the album. It is hard to say what is boring and what is not boring. When I read Heidegger and then sit down and talk to a poet and the talk is about boredom I find that I was presented with two sorts of boredom. I can understand the prisoner being bored of being incarcerated and I can understand Elton John being bored of playing the same song over and over again. That must get really boring. I can understand Ralph Fiennes experiencing boredom saying the same line over and over again. To think some people find Shakespeare boring. Some people can’t look at the Mona Lisa because they think she is boring. “All she does is sit there.” I was bored watching a football match. It was nil nil and I knew both teams were happy with ni nil. I felt cheated. Cheated and bored. When I was a school child I got bored of hearing the school teacher tell about his summer holidays. I think repetition can be boring but saying that video games are all based on repetition, varied but still repetition, and more people play video games than read books. Maybe books are boring. You never hear of a kid playing a video game suffering from boredom. Being young can be boring. Being old can be boring. Going to your grandmother’s house can be boring. Having the grandchildren over can be boring. Digging in the garden can be boring. Sleeping can be boring. Masturbating can be boring. Drinking can be boring. Smoking can be boring. Talking can be boring. I was at a great party. I think it was Christmas Eve. I love the season. Everybody is so happy. I started a conversation with a writer. He is a great writer and I love reading his work. “Didn’t Mikhail Lermontov say that the British created boredom?” said the famous writer. I had to shrug. I had not read Lermontov. I keep away from the Russians. Their books are always long and have too many characters. I told him this. He sighed softly, almost Shakespearean, maybe too Shakespearean, maybe a hint of the Sophoclean. I think I bored him.

Paul Kavanagh is the author of Iceberg and The Killing of a Bank Manager.

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