...boredom was literally nonexistent until the late eighteenth century - that is, it came into being as Enlightenment was giving way to Industrial Revolution. While its continental cousins "ennui" and "Langeweile" are older, they were not used synonymously, that is, in the modern sense that combines an existential and a temporal connotation, until about the same time. This linguistic convergence reflects experiential transformations that were transnational in nature, for modernization literally altered the quality of human being in time. In the course of the nineteenth century, even as the temporal rhythms of everyday life were being revolutionized by technological and economic developments, a new, secular interpretation of human temporality was gaining ground. Faith in a coming redemption and in a divinely ordered eternity was increasingly being displaced by enlightened belief in human progress toward an earthly paradise; religious vocabularies of reflection on subjective existence were being eclipsed by a radically different language grounded in bodily materiality....Boredom epitomizes the the dilemma of the autonomous modern subject, for whom enlightenment has also meant fragmentation - for whom modernization and scientific progress have caused, in Max Weber's term, the "disenchantment" of the world such that history and religion can no longer anchor identity in the fabric of collective meaning.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Boredom & Modernity
Classfellow J.S. sends along this from Elizabeth S. Goodstein's 2005 essay "Experience without Qualities: Boredom and Modernity":