Saturday, January 1, 2011

Article of the Day: How bored are you?

Besides writing about books, from time to time I’ll write about other things I’ve read here and there, including articles I come across on the internet.

One of the things I like about the Internet is the potential it presents for finding odd, random things to read. You have to know where to go to start looking for these sometimes, or you can Google randomly. I suppose you could say that it’s the online equivalent of browsing the library or bookstore shelves for something to read. There are nearly endless possibilities for discovery in both pursuits.

Today’s discovery is an article from the Wall Street Journal, called "Boredom Enthusiasts Discover the Pleasures of Understimulation”, by Gautam Naik. It relates the story of a conference called Boring 2010, held in London in early December. Boring 2010 was the brainchild of James Ward, who first proposed it as a joking tweet after he heard that something called the Interesting Conference had been canceled. Ward got such a positive response to his idea that he ended up actually organizing the conference.

The article, which I encourage you to go find and read (you can find a link at Arts & Letters Daily as one of its Articles of Note; the link I tried to insert to the Wall Street Journal would not work), details the conference and some of the topics presented there, which were apparently guaranteed to bore the socks off anyone. Ward, for example, talked about his tie collection, while another man spoke about his project to count his sneezes, which has been going on for three years so far.

Reading the article got me thinking, though, that what is boring for one person, even for most people, can be absolutely fascinating for someone else. Another of the presentations at the conference came from journalist Naomi Alderman, who talked about her experiences as child in observing the Jewish Sabbath. I think her talk, which was titled “What It’s Like to Do Almost Nothing Interesting for 25 Hours a Week”. I think that sounds quite interesting. Then again, I studied the anthropology of religion at university. As I said, boring for some is enthralling for others.

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