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A Philosophy of Boredom

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4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  227 ratings  ·  15 reviews
It has been described as a "tame longing without any particular object" by Schopenhauer, "a bestial and indefinable affliction" by Dostoevsky, and "time's invasion of your world system" by Joseph Brodsky, but still very few of us today can explain precisely what boredom is. A Philosophy of Boredom investigates one of the central preoccupations of our age as it probes the n ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 15th 2005 by Reaktion Books (first published 1999)
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Conor
Really great actually. Here are five reasons for five stars:

1) Boredom is not a common topic in philosophy (most books about it are of the "get rid" style, not the "what the hell is it" style.)

2) He looks at boredom with a long historical view, following it's base of a sin in early christianity into pop music.

3) He slaps Heidegger silly in his phenomenology chapter.

4) He wrote a very readable book about an obscure topic that includes a phenomenological bent.

5)He made me understand exactly wh
...more
110
Still reading the book but I already know my favourite passage :-) [needs to complete the review by adding Kierkegaard's position, for instance:]

"Pascal is the most prominent early theoretician of boredom. For Pascal, man is doomed to boredom without God. In the absence of a relationship to God we turn to pleasures in order to forget our miserable state but, in actual fact, this only has a more destructive effect.

Pascal says " The only thing which consoles us for our miseries is diversion, and y
...more
Gabriela
This book led me to ponder on the essence of my own personal meaning, of finding my own mature self-identity. It was a fantastic read, with lots of major philosophic exemplifications. I enjoyed the journey through eras of cultural perception regarding boredom and its related moods. I very much recommend this book to anyone interested in getting a grasp of the relationship between modernity, rush, efficiency and the personal-self.
oenggun
a good chapter on Heidegger's exposition on the topic.
Irwan
An exploration of boredom in a series of sketches which gives me an articulation of this aspect of life. Boredom often coincides with lack of meaning which the modern subject believes achievable, while it turns out otherwise. Personal meaning as something that alone can give my life meaning is unrealizable.

Examination ranging from popular cultures like films and novels as well as works of prominent philosophers presents different aspect of the subject matter. For example, Heidegger imagined tha
...more
Kadi Kolk
An interesting symbiosis of Svendsen's own (rather personal) thoughts about boredom, toned up with theories of different grand masters' (Nietzsche, Foucault, Kierkegaard, Hegel, Kant etc) points of view. Svendsen resourcefully digs out the aspect of boredom in almost every philosophical theory and thereby shows its omnipresence in daily human life throughout centuries. In addition to philosophy, he has dug out colourful examples from fiction and film. It's a book every ''modern man'' should defi ...more
Jiin
Finity of our existence makes us feel insignificant and meaningless. Such unbearable lightness of being feeds existential boredom, the very feeling Kundera's two characters, Tomáš and Sabina, have.
Eszter Faatima Sabiq
I am indebted to this book, as it was the main inspiration for my thesis and a great source of reference. Thank you, Lars Svendsen!
Catherine
I bought the book because I was eager to discover original thoughts and historical perspective on the topic of boredom, a topic I have not read about before: What's the relationship between boredom and, possibly, loneliness, depression, motivation...
The author has obviously done some research that is reported in the book. It offers lots of quotes on this obscur topic that is otherwise not well investigated.
But overall I was distracted by the assertions that the author made without explaining a
...more
MsD
It was always going to be the case that a book about boredom would be anything but boring, but I didn't think it would be as riveting as it turned out to be. I absolutely loved the second chapter where the author discussed the books/movies Crash and American Psycho. Reading those books you do understand quickly that the characters act out of a lack of something in their lives, but I never viewed their actions as a type of violence born of boredom and in this way Svendsen's little volume is like ...more
Lise
For a book about boredom it was surprisingly engaging. Having said that, it was indeed a book about boredom, and some of the historical sections in particular were a bit dry and longwinded. Svendsen presented his ideas well, however, and I found his thoughts on the matter to be very interesting, even though I'm not sure I agree with all of them.
Armand Cognetta
A bit esoteric, but overall a very interesting read. I particularly enjoyed the American Psycho section in which Patrick Bateman was depicted as the poster child for modern existential boredom taken to an extreme.
Alexandra
Not finished, halfway and to be continued. But I did really enjoy the first part and the subject matter in this book.
Yanshi
Mar 14, 2009 Yanshi added it
not bad
worth reading
Genevieve
Two-bit critchley
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Lars Fredrik Händler Svendsen is a Norwegian author and philosopher who is professor at the University of Bergen. He has published several books translated into 24 languages. He is also engaged as project manager in the think tank Civita. In 2008 he was awarded the Meltzer Prize for outstanding research, and in 2010 he was awarded the prisoners Testament.

Bibliography:

2005: A Philosophy of Boredom
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“In order to live a meaningful life,
humans need answers, i.e., a certain understanding of basic existential questions. These ‘answers’ do not have to be made completely explicit, as a lack of words does not necessarily indicate a lack of understanding, but one has to able to place oneself in the world and build a relatively stable identity. The founding of such an identity is only possible if one can tell a relatively coherent story about who one has been and who one intends to be.”
9 likes
“For Heidegger, boredom is a privileged fundamental mood because it leads us directly into the very problem complex of being and time.” 8 likes
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