Cedric Price's Generator via activesocialplastic.com
Yesterday, I took a light stroll around my Clinton Hill neighborhood. The sun was out, my coat too warm, and my vision heightened by a dose of pseudoephedrine. Unwinding my cashmere scarf, I looked down and saw narcissus stalks gingerly poking out of the earth. A sprig of nature in the urban jungle moment: Spring, at last. This winter in Brooklyn was dull. Few snow storms, just very cold days. I ticked off the weeks in word counts and deadlines. I wouldn’t say it was boring, per se, but when Molly emailed asking if I’d break up my routine and sit on a SXSW Interactive panel in Austin (which is this Sunday), I jumped at the chance to get away, to get exposure to new ideas, new people, and the promise of vegetarian BBQ. I leave tomorrow. Oh, little green sprout.
Molly’s recently made her architecture, urbanism, design, interaction, landscape, music, and literature blog public. On activesocialplastic.com she’s posted a brief history of boredom, positing the state as a kind of provocation, a lull that fosters response. Writing:
It has its own typology: situative boredom (waiting for someone or taking a train), the boredom of satiety (too much of the same thing), existential boredom and creative boredom (in which someone is forced to do something new or different). Situative boredom, the momentary ennui presented by a certain state of things, can be shaken off by action. Lars Svendsen writes, "To the extent that there is a clear form of expression for profound boredom, it is via behaviour that is radical and breaks new ground, negatively indicating boredom as its prerequisite." He notes the example of Alberto Moravia's novel, La Noia, in which the narrator's father's boredom "that does not require anything else to be assuaged than new, unusual experiences."
The piece, which I’ll file into the Boring Issue, also cites Cedric Price’s late 1970s Generator, in which the petulant building machine takes over the design if it gets bored with the input. More on the project here.