Art & Development

on boredom and pleasure

In “Sex, Drugs and Chocolate: The Science of Happiness,” Paul Martin posits that the most notorious of historical hedonists were driven not by pain, but by an acute fear of boredom. This passage on boredom as a welcome antithesis for immense pleasure, then, is interesting:

Boredom isn’t just good for your brain. It’s good for your soul. “Bliss — a second-by-­second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive, conscious — lies on the other side of crushing, crushing boredom,” Wallace wrote in a note left with the manuscript. “Pay close attention to the most tedious thing you can find (Tax Returns, Televised Golf) and, in waves, a boredom like you’ve never known will wash over you and just about kill you. Ride these out, and it’s like stepping from black and white into color. Like water after days in the desert. Instant bliss in every atom.”

Jennifer Schessler, “Our Boredom, Ourselves,” New York Times, January 21, 2010
Quotations in regard to David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King,” (Little, Brown & Company, due out April 2011).

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