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This is the most entertaining essay I have ever read on boredom. It begins:

Starting from a principle is affirmed by people of experience to be a very reasonable procedure; I am willing to humor them, and so begin with the principle that all men are bores. Surely no one will prove himself to be so great a bore as to contradict me in this….Boredom is the root of all evil.

In the context of this volume, which is addressing the human being at the aesthetic level of being, this principle cannot be gainsaid. If the point of all life is simply to avoid pain and obtain pleasure, boredom is monster which lurks everywhere (as soon one has food and shelter).

Think of how much effort and treasure is poured into entertainment: movies, music, sports, video-games. Drug taking is primarily to shake off boredom by being easily amused. It is the mark of a  culture which is largely childish. Consider these two sentences and at the same time consider street crime:

In the case of children, the ruinous character of boredom is universally acknowledged. Children are always well-behaved as long as they are enjoying themselves.

Sadly I have known more than one criminal intimately. I have never met the man who stole because he was honestly going to starve after he could not find work. Violence, theft, assaults, are weirdly often a form of entertainment.

He even attributes the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) to boredom (“To divert themselves they conceived the idea of constructing a tower high enough to reach the heavens.”).

Think of politics: how much of politics is entertaining theater (I am happy here to draw out examples from all parties and candidates sufficient to gore everyone’s ox. But these facts are too well known).

Sadly, too much of the Christian church is little better than second rate theater meant to divert on in the task of “worship”. That does not mean I think that Christian worship should be boring: When it is truly worship, nothing is more riveting. Rather, diversion rather than presentation of the living God is where most “worship” settles (frankly it is easier to be diverting than meet God — it also the reason why it is so easy to forget).


So when we think about it: this question of boredom has profound effects: I have only briefly (and in the barest form) considered crime, culture, politics and worship. According to Kierkegaard’s formulation of the aesthetic stage the trouble is that most of world is peopled by those who cannot operate at a more matured level (that is for his later books).