“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Sunday, April 29, 2007

negative inspiration

Spirit enough to be bored — Whoever doesn’t have enough spirit to be able to find himself and his work boring is certainly not a spirit of the first rank, be it in the arts or sciences. A satirist who was, unusually, also a thinker, could add to this, taking a look at the world and history: God must not have had this spirit: he wanted to make and did make things, collectively, too interesting.” – Nietzsche, Human all too H.

LI is unsure about the jab at God at the end of this little saying, but every writer knows the moment that comes upon him like negative inspiration, when he detaches and to find himself and his work boring. That’s the moment that Bely cuts his masterpiece, Petersburg, by a third; that may be the moment when Rimbaud said fuck it, although I am too little devil or angel to venture there into that affair. However, I’ve been pondering the economist’s version of happiness – even Bartolini’s, critical as he is of the treadmill of production that has brought us wheel of fortune lifestyles. Economists are so fucking weird because they combine the most sophisticated mathematical models with psychological insights that would shame a ten year old. It is all about not only licking a lollypop, but doing it forever and ever, and getting everybody’s lollypop to lick. It is a gross and unrealistic view of happiness. I suspect economists are so enthusiastic about growth not so much because growth is a good in itself, but because it perpetually puts off the question: what is the system for? And, of course, even Marxist economists will edge out of the room once you start pondering the many dimensions of alienation. Economics is really not the dismal science, but the clubbish science – and in clubs, it doesn’t do to pose such questions. They are so easily answered by dinner, especially if dinner includes port.

Now, in LI’s youth, boredom was our mark of Cain – it was the boredom generated by capitalism that we were against. We tended to be big supporters of the situationists, without really having a vast or even a tiny little knowledge of them more than they pissed people off, and the autonomen, because we loved the autonomen boldness, the kicking ass, the taking over of buildings people weren't using, the contempt for the Polizei. This sounded like the shit to us, even though we heard overtones of peasant hut nostalgia in some of that wish that enterprise consist of holding hands and weaving or something, which made us wrinkle our nose. The via negativa, through pure abjection, sounded pretty good, too, theoretically. Put Bataille on the internal stereo system and see if “we’re so pretty, oh so pretty” comes out.

However, although it was quite the enemy, boredom was never really an issue. Which is why we were undoubtedly a cause of unmitigated boredom in others. It wasn’t until we began to take writing seriously, and tried to write fiction, that boredom became interesting, and we became aware of our own karmic debt to those we had bored and bored and bored.

A debt that would merely grow heavier (oh, the motherfucking links!) if we went too far into it. More interesting is that, perhaps out there on the edge a bit, our experience with boredom, the way it became a boundary, is pretty much standard, nothing unusual. L'enfant du siecle after all, god damn it. And it is now become that which we all must flee. Any dialectical witch should find that which we all must flee interesting indeed.

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