The Uses of Boredom

John Banville in the NYRB:

Heidegger once remarked that he was only trying to do in philosophy what Rilke had already achieved in poetry. On page after page of these masterly letters we are given ample instances of the depth of Rilke’s thinking and the philosophical reach of his imagination. In The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics Heidegger dwells at length—how else?—on the central function of boredom as a spur to human action, as a state of purest potential, a kind of affectless waiting as the spirit gathers itself for the leap into deed.

Rilke, anticipating the philosopher by some decades, writes from Borgeby Gård, his refuge in rural Sweden, in a letter to Kappus in August 1904, of the importance of being “solitary and attentive” because “the seemingly uneventful and static moment when our future enters into us is so much closer to life than that other noisy and fortuitous moment when the future happens to us, as if from outside.” In another passage, that could be from Emerson or William James, he urges Kappus, should he feel there is something sickly in his nature, to consider that “sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from foreign matter,” and the organism, instead of being treated with curatives, should be helped to be sick, “to experience its illness fully and to erupt….”

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Boredom Is Everywhere I find this a little hard to swallow, both that Charles Simic would be unable to entertain himself for a few days without his smart...
  2. Buddenbrooks’ Contribution to the Ebook Debate I've been reading and enjoying Ted Striphas's The Late Age of Print, and I intend to write more about it soon. For now, though, I'd...
  3. Excerpt of The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira Why not go read the new Cesar Aira novel, The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira? BOMB has the first chapter. One day at dawn, Dr....
  4. Erasures Nice essay on the practice of erasure in literature: Heidegger practiced erasure as a way to define nihilism (in an indefinite sort of way). In...
  5. Klausen and Microscripts For those who didn’t already see it in the comments, the forthcoming Bernhardian work in translation that I mentioned earlier this week is indeed Klausen...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.


Criticism Isn't Free


CR is dedicated to thoughtful, in-depth criticism without regard to what's commercially appealing. It takes tens of hours each month to provide this. Please help make this sort of writing sustainable, either with a subscription or a one-time donation. Thank you!





Got Something To Say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Shop though these links = Support this site

Copyright © 2015. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.