Much of this, of course, is semantic play, further complicated by the messiness of translation.But Kierkegaard’s distinction between boredom and idleness seems rather similar to Van Gogh’s distinction between the two types of idlers.
Much of this, of course, is semantic play, further complicated by the messiness of translation.But Kierkegaard’s distinction between boredom and idleness seems rather similar to Van Gogh’s distinction between the two types of idlers. Wiley Online Library requires cookies for authentication and use of other site features; therefore, cookies must be enabled to browse the site.
Kierkegaard writes: Idleness as such is by no means a root of evil; on the contrary, it is a truly divine life, if one is not bored…
Idleness, then, is so far from being the root of evil that it is rather the true good.
Bemoaning how “utterly meaningless” his life has become, 30-year-old Kierkegaard writes: How dreadful boredom is — how dreadfully boring; I know no stronger expression, no truer one, for like is recognized only by like… If I were offered all the glories of the world or all the torments of the world, one would move me no more than the other; I would not turn over to the other side either to attain or to avoid. In this conception, boredom becomes indeed an emptiness of meaning rather than a lack of diversion.
I lie prostrate, inert; the only thing I see is emptiness, the only thing I live on is emptiness, the only thing I move in is emptiness. In fact, Kierkegaard likely influenced Tolstoy when the beloved Russian author, in his own existential quest for meaning, asserted that “for man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.” Kierkegaard also illuminates our modern cult of productivity and our compulsive busyness as a hedge against that dreaded boredom: Boredom is the root of all evil.
As long as children are having a good time, they are always good.
This can be said in the strictest sense, for if they at times become unmanageable even while playing, it is really because they are beginning to be bored; boredom is already coming on, but in a different way.
Boredom has a long cultural history and an adaptive function in human life — it serves a vital creative purpose and protects us by helping us tolerate open-endedness; in childhood, it becomes the wellspring of imaginative play.
And yet we live in a culture that seems obsessed with eradicating boredom, as if it were Ebola or global poverty, and replacing it with a peculiar modern form of active idleness oozing from our glowing screens.
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).