Saturday 26th of September 2020

les fleurs of the devil...

bored

Drawing a rigorous distinction between the feeling of being bored (“boredom”) and the tendency for some people to be bored more easily than others (“boredom proneness”), Eastwood and Danckert systematically review empirical evidence in an attempt to determine whether boredom is good or bad, ultimately concluding that it is neither. Just like play, they argue, boredom serves important functions across species, guiding behavior away from inaction, toward novel and potentially rewarding outcomes.

 

Erin Westgate

Science  19 Jun 2020:

 

Vol. 368, Issue 6497, pp. 1321

 

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No one likes to be bored. Two leading psychologists explain what causes boredom and how to listen to what it is telling you, so you can live a more engaged life.

We avoid boredom at all costs. It makes us feel restless and agitated. Desperate for something to do, we play games on our phones, retie our shoes, or even count ceiling tiles. And if we escape it this time, eventually it will strike again. But what if we listened to boredom instead of banishing it?

Psychologists James Danckert and John Eastwood contend that boredom isn’t bad for us. It’s just that we do a bad job of heeding its guidance. When we’re bored, our minds are telling us that whatever we are doing isn’t working―we’re failing to satisfy our basic psychological need to be engaged and effective. Too many of us respond poorly. We become prone to accidents, risky activities, loneliness, and ennui, and we waste ever more time on technological distractions. But, Danckert and Eastwood argue, we can let boredom have the opposite effect, motivating the change we need. The latest research suggests that an adaptive approach to boredom will help us avoid its troubling effects and, through its reminder to become aware and involved, might lead us to live fuller lives.

Out of My Skull combines scientific findings with everyday observations to explain an experience we’d like to ignore, but from which we have a lot to learn. Boredom evolved to help us. It’s time we gave it a chance.

 

 

Boredom isn't new or related exclusively to Covid-19 lockdown... One of the most famous poem by Baudelaire cuts to the chase. Here is AU LECTEUR, at the begining of "The Flowers of Evil" in a modern translation by Jules Letambour:

 

To the reader


Foolishness, error, sin, greed,
Occupy our minds and work our corpse,
And we feed our lovely remorse,
Like beggars feed their vermin.


Our sins are stubborn, our repentances are cowardly;
We are paid for our confessions handsomely,
And we travel the muddy path cheerfully,
Believing hypocrite tears will wash the dirt away.


On the pillow of evil, Satan is the seducing magic
That constantly cradles our enchanted mind,
And the rich metal of our willpower
Is all vaporised by this clever dodging artist.


The Devil is holding the strings that move us!
In repulsive objects we seek lures;
Every day towards Hell we take one step,
Without horror, through stinking darkness.


Like a debauched poor who fucks and sucks
The martyred breast of an old whore,
We steal a base underground pleasure
That we hard squeeze like an old fruit.


Packed, swarming, like a million parasites,
In our brains, ruffles an army of Demons,
And, when we breathe, Death in our lungs
floods in, an invisible river, with muffled pains.


If rape, poison, a dagger, the arsonist fire,
Have not yet found their pleasant designs
In the pathetic canvas of our pitiful destinies,
It’s only that our soul, alas! is cowardly vanishing.


But among the jackals, the panthers, the head-lice,
Monkeys, scorpions, vultures, snakes,
The squealing, howling, growling, crawling monsters,
In the infamous menagerie of all our vices,


There is one uglier, nastier, more filthy!
Although it does not have gestures nor loud cries,
It will gladly turn the earth into rubbles
And in a yawn would swallow the entire world;


It's Boredom! That fills our eyes with involuntary tear,
It dreams of hanging us while it smokes a cold pipe.
You know it, reader, this delicate monster,
— Hypocrite reader! — my twin, — my brother!



                    Charles Baudelaire

 

(modern) Translation by Jules Letambour

 


 


the political game...

Since the dawn of civilisation — if I can use this tired cliché — humans have tried to cheat nature. Nature is about us being born, about us living, then dying. That is the way DNA has randomly created itself — and we are DNA in evolution. It’s an amazing dynamic!… But in our little smarty brains, we think we can do better. We survived our major imperfections, against all odds and against the wild beats by being mostly deceitful — and by often using organised deceit, against nature. The next step was to invent ways to let our individual consciousness life longer, even forever. What’s the point of all our grandiose efforts and smart inventions if at the end, we vanish into dust?

The simple step was to invent a paradise, or a place where our consciousness goes on to live in forever. This invention is still strong today. First the religious doodads had to separate the consciousness from the body which is seen as a retardant. We invented the soul, the spirit. Furthermore, we had to invent a ruler to kowtow to, in this amazing place beyond imagination, far away from the painful turmoils and sickness of this earth. The elders became wiser in creating such cultural narratives that would control our social groups. The powerful synergy between self-proclaimed or decided rulers and priests was soon established. Religion and politics became inseparable. Though the Greeks democracies and the Roman republics tried to give people more control over their life, the major occurrence (and most important still) of the separation of State and Church was only about 115 years ago, after much trauma in the political situation of France. 

Meanwhile other branches of beliefs had sprung… Most were designed to secretly go beyond the deceitful curtain of religions and become rich for oneself. Robbers did not care about curses and robbed the pharaohs pyramids soon after the ruler had been buried. Gold then was recognised as precious and was a major trading commodity. It still is.

Modern political deceit has made us accept a fiat currency based on the values of the markets between demand and supply, including that of our work, which is worth what it is worth on the day — sometimes nothing. Gold glitters.

This is why the alchemists tried hard to “manufacture” gold using various other elements and heat. A flame could be seen as a transient golden moment.

George Starkey (Eirenaeus Philalethes) – a 17th century Colonial American alchemist wrote “All metallic seed is the seed of gold: for gold is the intention of nature with regard to all metals. If the base metals are not gold, it is only through some accidental hindrance: they are all potentially gold.

This was baloney on a grand scale, yet this delusion is also at the basis of politics in golden religious beliefs… Go and visit a Baroque church if you may...

As well as gold, the “philosopher’s stone" and the "fountain of eternal youth” were sought after in order to live forever, with as much gold and wisdom as possible. The Midas tale did not scare anyone seeking incommensurable fortunes beyond Methuselah longevity.

Politics forbade these ventures, because there was only "one ruler” of the specific group — by then and now, a full-blown psychopath/sociopath — with coffers to fill, not by trickery of alchemistry nor humble wisdom, but by making people toil with the belief of eternal consciousness as wages… This has been a trickery of politics, till democracy set in, a wonky worthy system of control in which we chose our poison and our level of uselessness, while we often have to accept the unacceptable...

This is where we’re at, accepting the deceit of one candidate versus that of another to become the ruler of the relative “free world”. We are free to choose between two deceitful dorks. And we hope that our temporal life will improve with more gold in our pocket, while many of us, still hope to go to paradise, as we make as much dust to fill a small decorated jar … 

If you think that deceit is not part of the human, you are a better person than Gus — so good luck to you. 

Now, can we do better? Ah, this is a question that has many facets. Can we do better individually or as a group, for starter. I’m sure we can… But which delusion or formula are we going to choose? 


O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,

That has such people in’t.


— William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act V, Scene I, ll. 203–206[6]

These verses are said to have inspired the novel Brave New World (1932)

Huxley wrote a satirical piece of fiction, not a scientific prophecy. Yet his masterpiece was deceitful futurology — and a work of important literature. "Brave New World" is like a chemically-driven happiness in a search for paradise-engineering. It ends sadly and this is not the way to go…

Jaded with his new life, John moves to an abandoned hilltop tower, near the village of Puttenham, where he intends to adopt a solitary ascetic lifestyle in order to purify himself of civilization, practising self-flagellation. This soon draws reporters and eventually hundreds of amazed sightseers, hoping to witness his bizarre behaviour; one of them is implied to be Lenina. At the sight of the woman he both adores and loathes, John attacks her with his whip. The onlookers are wildly aroused by the display and John is caught up in the crowd's soma-fuelled frenzy. The next morning, he remembers the previous night's events and is stricken with remorse. Onlookers and journalists who arrive that evening discover John dead, having hanged himself.

 

We can still do better… Yes we can… We need to keep trying… We cannot be bored, nor defeated… We need to use our ability to be stylistic in our artful politics, to honour our evolution in nature, without killing each others and without destroying the planet. Easy said.