The other day I found myself waiting, and beside my waiting self was a newspaper. I looked at it. Of course, it was full of important stories about important people doing important things, and it would have been good of me to read about something of worth, but the only article I read the whole way through was one about a group of ‘Boredom Enthusiasts’ in London who had a conference last month. I have no idea why I was compelled to read about Boredom 2010 organizer James Ward‘s tie collection, which, as of June 2010 consisted of 55 ties, nearly half of which were solid-colored. “By December, his tie collection had jumped by 36%, although the share of single-color ties fell by 1.5%.” I must be channeling my inner Brit.
Only a day or two later a friend emailed me to ask if I had any favorite novels in which absolutely nothing, or almost nothing, happens. Oddly enough, none came to mind. I think this may be because I am often compelled by what may bore others and my definition of ‘nothing’ can be quite fluid depending on attention span or mood.
Of course there are the books about which people complain about nothing happens (High schoolers, I am looking at you.) The Old Man And The Sea is one but I am sure others (htmlgiant readers) might not categorize it in quite the same way. In David Markson’s Reader’s Block a different kind of nothing is happening, one in which an old man’s brain is sifting thoughts… Is it just me or do old men feature prominently in books about nothing and boredom? Makes it all the stranger that James Ward, mastermind behind Boredom 2010, is only twenty-nine. Someone cue the hand-wringing about the current generation.