BOREDOM IS ONE of the most common human experiences, yet it seems continually to defy complete understanding.
We all know what it is to feel bored, but what exactly prompts, constitutes, or follows from the condition of boredom is far less obvious.
Is boredom a function of leisure?
Does boredom tangle desire or personal conditions, or both?
That is, when I stare at the full refrigerator and complain that there is nothing to eat, or when I scan 100 cable channels and find nothing to watch, who or what, exactly, is to blame?
A century ago, modernist poets and artists worked to illustrate the disintegrated selfhood of twentieth-century humanity, the way a coherent individuality was being torn apart by new social and political conditions such that we were left with, at best, fragments shored against our ruin.
Today, the challenge is urgent in a new fashion, since our selves are deliberately scattered data fragments—Twitter feeds, Instagram posts, shopping preferences, and text trends captured by algorithms that seem to know us better than we know ourselves. What hope is there for integration and stability under such conditions?
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