{Of all lies, art is the least untrue - Flaubert}

Friday, November 24, 2006

Boredom and Unhappiness

Rajeev posts some quotes by French author Céline. I was reminded of early last year when Alok sent me some of those. The one that I liked the most was:

“Living, just by itself - what a dirge that is! Life is a classroom and Boredom’s the usher, there all the time to spy on you; whatever happens, you’ve got to look as if you were awfully busy all the time doing something that’s terribly exciting - or he’ll come along and nibble your brain.”

...Awfully busy in doing something terribly exciting.... I usually find myself doing that, at least pretending. Going to Nature camps, Salsa classes or 10k runs for no purpose but to fill in time with some physical exercise. I fear boredom will nibble me anytime. No amount of reading or movie watching or talking to friends or smoking make me wiser than boredom. Yes, there are rare moments of bliss, when I fearlessly sit alone and even boredom deserts me.

The second one which I found very insightful is:

“Never believe straight off in a man’s unhappiness. Ask him if he can still sleep. If the answer’s ‘yes’, all’s well. That is enough.”

I don't like when people say they are unhappy (Although I have done it several time, but I don't use the term 'Unhappy', I find too strong or may be I fear it). I have become very skeptical of other people's unhappiness. Is it lack of comfort or lack of perfection in their bourgeoisie picture of life or just glitch of irritation or boredom. I believe that if a person is living, he/she is at least marginally happy. Living has some inherent gratification in itself. If you don't look for bigger meaning and bigger pictures, I believe that life is not inherently unhappy or unpardonably painful. There are unhappy lives, we must acknowledge that but pure unhappiness is as rare to find as pure happiness.


Alok said...

I rarely feel bored. I get bored only when I am too tired to read or go to a movie. I can't imagine how people go to dance classes, gym or marathons. I wish i had even half of the energy people my age are expected to have...

And yes I also get bored when I am with other people and have to listen to conversations which don't interest me.

It is not boredom, it is somekind of vague restlessness and anxiety which always plagues me. I have to keep my mind under control by giving it some fodder (from books i read) which it keeps chewing :))

Alok said...

And yes, I get bored at office too. Both when I have work and when I don't. Now that i am thinking about it, i do get bored a lot. hmmm.

Vidya said...

Is boredom the right(all-inclusive)word for this? Or does it include restlessness and a periodically recurring anxiety?

Agreed that Life is certainly not inherently happy or unhappy but to me its ephemerality,impermanence makes its moments of seeming highs and lows, human beings attaining great intellectual heights just to be forgotten and reduced to dust by passages of time is what causes a cycle of despair and gloom to come and go.

scarecrow said...

...If you don't look for bigger meaning and bigger pictures, I believe that life is not inherently unhappy or unpardonably painful...

Doesn’t that says it all..
all these acts of reading, writing, watching movies, seeing nature, thinking..aren't these all acts of self alienations. And being born and brought up in this world it somehow gets imbued in us that these acts of loneliness and solitude are indeed boring and a person engulfed in them is indeed unhappy. Maybe one may not believe that but the world keeps on reminding him..

And the anxiety of the fact that one is heading but is not sure where..

anurag said...

Alok, I think I was mixing lot of other things into boredom and as Vidya points out it might be vague restlessness or anxiety or, disinterest in everything.

And yes I also get bored when I am with other people and have to listen to conversations which don't interest me.

This is one reason why I have stopped discussing the topics that I am interested in, I fear I may be root of boredom for others :)

Vidya, it is hopelessly painful. Piles of dust over best of things. Even more painful is some gods pretending to be the best, sitting on the pile. or perhaps the whole concept of beauty, intellectual and artistic, is based on its ephemerality, and thats why art acts as portal to these dispersed thoughts of past.

scarecrow, how much we try but we do try to search for bigger meanings, to read and to see. I am quite enticed, many a times, by what you are saying. My friends tell me all this reading and watching stuff is doomed and good for nothing, but I dont discuss much with them about it, but at times, have thought that can it make me really happier but I have always doubted it.

shruti said...

hey ws just surfing on orkut..saw ur profile..got 2 ur blogs..and read this one first...quite impressive! good writing:-)...boredom & unhapiness i guess seldom can u not expirence them cocon around ur web of life at sm point or other..mayb it's the former 1 tht draged me 2 ur blog..anyways good going!!!

anurag said...


Thanks for visiting.

so, I must thank the former too :)

keep visiting otherwise too !

Rajeev said...

I do get bored and I actually like it 'coz it triggers depression in me at times and I love being depressed. And yes... I also do things to pretend that I am busy. While things I love keep me going, I think - things I pretend also help me in my journey. They bring a different type of satisfaction in me. If not satisfaction, they atleast reduce fear I have from people around me who I think are watching me. One may argue, why do you care what people around you think about you? You should do what you love to do. Fact is that I am a social animal and I do care what they think about me.

I think happiness or unhappiness is relative. You can only say that you are relatively happy or unhappy. In absolute terms it means nothing to me.