The remainder of the essay is how to engage in the “rotation method”: how to live in this world without becoming bored. First, there is the matter of what boredom is. Some just acquire boredom, but he spends more concern about boredom as “the result of a mistake effort to find diversion.”
He then makes this fascinating observation:
Boredom depends on the nothingness which pervades reality; it causes a dizziness like that produced by looking down into a yawning chasm, and this dizziness is absolute.
There is a pointlessness to existence. There is a grinding similarity. The endless emptiness produces boredom.
When I read that I think, Jesus could have not been bored. We see how people seek to invest trivial things which great importance (think of entertainers who often do little else than divert us).
The solution to this endlessly pointless world is treat the world even more pointlessness. I cannot help but read this and think of Oscar Wilde and “all art is useless.” To avoid the endless similarity of existence, we need diversion.
But, to obtain diversion we need two things (1) forgetfulness, and (2) a lack of commitment to anything.
He calls forgetfulness “an art”. It’s first element is how one remembers. We must experience an event as an experience, it is never quite clear, but there cannot be no more or spiritual reflection. An event exists merely as an experience to be enjoyed: “Enjoying an experience to its full intensity to the last minute will make it impossible either to remember or to forget.”
Forgetfulness is more than simply not being able to recall some detail, it is to not be bound by any event. Hence, “”Nature is great because it has forgotten that it was a chaos; but this thought is subject to revival at anytime.”
Hence forgetfulness permits one to obtain “freedom”:
The art of remembering and forgetting will also insure against sticking fast in some relationship of life, and make possible the realization of complete freedom.
Hence one must avoid friendship (“The essential thing is to never stick fast, and for this it is necessary to have oblivion back of one.”), marriage (“Marriage brings one into fatal connection with custom and tradition, and traditions and customs are like the wind and weather, altogether incalculable.”), official positions.
This of course is a position which has risen to a level of moral permission, even obligation in the contemporary world. Appropriate psychological counsel for one in an unhappy marriage is often to not be bound by custom and tradition, but rather to “forget” vows, obligations and constriction and seek happiness.
I recently saw the truly wonderful movie Fences (it is well worth your time to watch). In that movie, the main character “forgets” his marriage because he desires some happiness from what this essayist would call boredom. But unlike our unattached essayist created by Kierkegaard, the character in Fences brings much suffering upon himself and others (interesting, I imagine this essayist would find that an acceptable cost because at least misery is not necessarily boring).
One must be “arbitrary”: “You go to see the middle of a play, you read the third part of a book….Arbitrariness in oneself corresponds to the accidental in the external world.” This reminds me of Cage’s attempt to make accidental music.