Boredom

Walker Percy presents a chapter on boredom.

“The word boredom did not enter the language until the eighteenth century. No one knows its etymology. One guess is that bore may derive from the French verb bourrer, to stuff.”

He goes on to ask the questions were people too busy surviving to be bored. But what of the royalty, they had a lot of time on their hands. Were people not bored until the eighteenth century?

Are we impoverished in some way, especially in the current age? Are we so distracted by ever advancing technology that we become dulled to everything around us? Though we have self-help and psychology and counsel and more leisure and recreation, we feel more and more trapped within ourselves.

How do we escape ourself that feels imprisoned?

In this technological age, do we only see ourselves as ghosts trapped in a machine? “How else can a ghost feel otherwise toward a machine than bored?”

Only human beings get bored. As far as we know. “Under the circumstances in which a man gets bored, a dog goes to sleep.”

If boredom is the self being stuffed with itself, what is the alternative?

Isn’t love the alternative? Giving oneself to another? I am not talking about romantic love, although that has a part to play. I am talking of love that is sacrificial. Love that is divine. It forgets the self. Instead of stuffing itself with self, it gives itself away. Didn’t Christ do this and his followers, however imperfectly?

To rid oneself of self, of boredom, of stuffing oneself with self, we give. Serve others, give alms, give of our possessions to others, give counsel, a kind word, in some cases give ones entire life. “To lay one’s whole life down for another”–to die for another. This is love.

In a world of the machine and of boredom, self-seeking love is not the answer. But divine love, God’s love is.

(this is not the most coherent entry … more a sketch)

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