Sunday, 15 July 2007

Boredom a myth?


The emotion of boredom is often overlooked though reading reviews heavily over the past several months, it crops up regularly in terms of art. It's never rested easy with me as I have quite a high boredom threshold. My response to boredom is to think/imagine and sometimes, I think artists make use of this reflex to encourage the viewer to do just that.

The British Psychological Society posted an article on John Eastwood of York University(Toronto, Ontario) whose research suggests that boredom has less to do with external stimulation and more to do with how well we know ourselves.

It found that students who were susceptible to boredom were more externally focused and had difficulty identifying their emotions. Eastwood and his colleagues believe seeking outside stimulations and distractions from ourselves leads to further isolation.

From the BPS Research Digest Article:
“Like the trap of quicksand, such thrashing only serves to strengthen the grip of boredom by further alienating us from our desire and passion, which provide compass points for satisfying engagement with life”, [John Eastwood and his team] said. Instead the researchers suggest treating boredom as an opportunity to “discover the possibility and content of one’s desires”


Links:
BPS Research Digest post
A desire for desires: Boredom and its relation to alexithymia
John Eastwood (York University Ontario)

3 comments:

Betty C. said...

I doubt you remember this, but I always told my OHS students that there was no excuse for boredom. They could always find some interesting way to exercise their minds.

I find the American students I taught had a positive attitude that made them receptive to that type of reasoning. I don't think I would try it with my French students. I do manage to get them pretty interested, but there is a latent "je m'en foutisme" that is stronger than my blatant enthusiasm.

Siouxfire said...

Oh, I have a "je m'en fou" attitude to plenty of things but I think there is a difference between that and boredom.

For example, I could do a good job of something that was boring(potato picking) but couldn't do the same for something I didn't care about(accounting).

Both bore me, but to me one is benign and the other is bad, but it isn't bad because it's boring.

I think the problem (particularly in terms of art) is that boredom is used as a criticism when I don't think it really should be. It's lazy. The reviewer should keep that shallow tidbit to themselves and focus on what lies beneath and not only will they have something with a bit more depth but they also might learn something about themselves.

And it sounds a bit like American students are like dogs and the French are like cats. I can just imagine a cat saying, "Bof."

Betty C. said...

I like the dog and cat analogy. I like it very much.

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