Saturday, July 21, 2012

Boredom Revisited


When you are in the condition you know of as boredom, you feel a simultaneous sense of being trapped, impinged upon, caught by circumstances to the point of feeling victimized.

Unlike those who appear to enjoy being the victim, you take no such pleasure.  When you discover your behavior suggesting any slight propensity to enjoyment, you begin looking for the nearest exit.  You look also for ways to turn these negative feelings into some form of pleasure.

Often this pleasure is mischievous, close to the pie-throwing slapstick of the comedy you so enjoyed as a teenager, growing up near a movie theater specializing in films from the old, silent era, and your closeness to yet another theater specializing in reruns of old Marx Brothers, Laurel and Hardy, and Buster Keaton films.

Thus an important metric penciled on the wall here:  You’ve been imprinted with Charlie Chaplin, the Keystone Kops, and other such icons of that early filmic era.  Thus also the escape from boredom triggers within you a wish to celebrate in the physicality of the comedic.  The rest of the time, your tendencies are more likely to transfer to the humorous, where there are dynamics beyond thrown pies, swinging doors, and long beams carried by innocent workers.

The most boring situations are those in which you are forced to wait for appointments you did not much care to be keeping in the first place.  Other boring situations include suffering through long introductions of persons you hope to hear speak.  Still other boring situations, perhaps the most common in your present life, have to do with reading things you are obligated to read because you are either the teacher or editor of the writer.

Another, painful example of such reading is when the work you are reading was written by you.  This condition leads you to an exquisite sense of being trapped by the lack of story oxygen you decry in the boring writing of others.  More often than not, the causes of the boredom are the side effects of you trying to demonstrate how much you know, how clever you are, how extensive your vocabulary is, what, in effect, a splendid thinker you are.

Thinking has its place in revision and ordering the materials you decide to keep after having culled the showoff chaff.  Thinking has its place in brooding over the strains and wrenches put upon your characters by the constraints of the story in which they appear.  Although your characters are not bored, they should have the same inner anguish you experience when you are in fact bored.

What this amounts to is the need to keep your focus on the atmosphere of the story or essay at hand, the awareness of the pulsing, the contracting and expanding of its moods and circumstances rather than your aside observations on their meanings and significance.

Comedy, as you’ve noted, runs deep within you, but so, too, does humor, which is a learned thing while comedy is more of a reflexive thing.  If used properly, comedy can lead you into those wonderful, explosive moments when you realize you’ve been trapped in the center of an aisle filled with overweigh, boring persons, and now you can’t take it any more; you want out.

Thus you play with these elements, struggling to get them into the right arrangement for the maximum use.

Thus these notes become the effect of you, interviewing yourself today on what story is and what to do about it.  Story, you begin, is a character recognizing the condition of being bored, experiencing the trapped sensation of it, wishing only to be free in order to do something demonstrative of that illusory sense of being free.  Free from the boredom, of course; other kinds of freedom need footnotes and philosophical gloss.  In story, your story, the mere appearance of being free of boredom becomes reversal or complication.  Thus we have gone from stasis to destabilization to breaking free to discovery.  You’d almost think you were in a position where some kind of ending or vision is in sight.  Fair enough.  Head for it, reach for it.  Go ahead.  See what happens.

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