"we have a world of pleasure to win and nothing to lose but boredom."guy debord, situationiste internationale.
According to Dr. Thomas Goetz of the University of Konstanz in a study released in Springers Journal and book there are now five types of boredom. Building on earlier research which explored levels of boredom along a continuum of arousal--from calm to fidgety, and whether boredom was experienced positively or negatively, four distinct types of boredom could be determined: indifferent boredom (relaxed, withdrawn, indifferent), calibrating boredom(uncertain, receptive to change/distraction), searching bordeom (restless, active pursuit of change/distraction) and reactant boredom (high reactant, motivated to leave a situation for specific alternatives).
Goetz's fifth boredom is characterised as apathetic boredom an especially unpleasant form that resembles learned helplessness or depression. It is associated with low arousal levels and high levels of aversion.
Both studies reveal that people tend to experience of one these types of boredom rather than all of them, and have noted the perception of the link between boredom and depression. The goal was to consider whether boredom affected learning and achievement positively or negatively and the alarm bells rang in Goetz's study because their testing, done with school students revealed a high level of apathetic boredom. This may have something to do with the education system among other things in my mind, which I think is still operating by a system that seems quite outdated in terms of real-world needs and directions.
I only bring this up because for a long time I have been mulling over the concept of boredom--since I discovered The Situationnistes, the European movement that preceded the post-modernists, whose goal was to challenge the mind-numbing aspect of modern capitalism on us, particularly the working classes. They were the first group to examine capitalism in its modern form, and they were concerned with the way in which consumer culture was creating a society of apathy and boredom. The Situs argued that increased material wealth of workers was not enough to stop class struggle and ensure capitalism’s perpetual existence, as many on the left argued at the time, since authentic human desires would be always in conflict with alienating capitalist society. Situationist tactics included attempting to create “situations” where humans would interact together as people, not mediated by commodities. They saw in moments of true community the possibility of a future, joyful and un-alienated society.
"People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have corpses in their mouths."
To the Situs the invention of leisure (a product of the industrial age), was the reason for boredom which they regarded as a modern phenomenon. According to their view, under capitalism, the creativity had become diverted and stifled, and society had been divided into actors and spectators, producers and consumers. The Situationists therefore wanted a different kind of revolution: rather than politics they wanted the imagination, not a group of men, to seize power, and poetry and art to be made by all. They were influenced by the Dada and Surrealists in much of their practices--graffiti, subverting comics, art events and happenings were the stuff of their revolution.
Today we assume boredom as a given, as part of the human condition, and now we break it down into various categories, each with their own particular and nuanced presentings. It's an interesting thought that boredom is a product of modernity and consumerism and what it might take to undo the effects.
A great introduction to their thinking is via a book on the punk movement by Greil Marcus, not only is it one of the best books about rock music in my opinion, it devotes a serious chunk of its pages to the role of the Situationnistes in the dawn of punk music, something seldom discussed as far as I know. Given my belief that punk was a moral cleansing movement, it makes sense that it had a politically motivated, artistic theory behind it.