IN HIS ESSAY FOR THIS ISSuE, RICHARD WOLIN quOTES THE FRENCH POET, Paul Valéry, saying “we no longer know how to make boredom bear fruit.” It’s a curi- ous idea, since we usually think of ways to banish boredom, not make it bear fruit. How does one make boredom bear fruit? And what might it mean in contemporary life to create the conditions for the possibility of boredom?
As often noted in the pages of The Hedgehog Review, the changes taking place in the world today are radically altering the way we see ourselves, others, and the world around us. They are also changing the manner in which we live, the pace at which we live it, and the ends towards which we strive. We spend more and more time in front of screens and less and less time in face-to-face communication, as well as less and less time by ourselves without some means of electronic communication to distract us from any possibility of solitude…or boredom. While some of us can remember life before email, many now cannot imagine life without texting, tweeting, and Facebook. (Email, it seems, is becoming passé.) We are living at a faster and faster pace, and it seems that we are overwhelmingly busy all the time. Our world is both bigger, now including the whole globe, and closer, brought into our living rooms and onto our screens throughout the day. Many places are reachable in minutes or hours by plane; many people are reachable in seconds by Skype.