A Philosophy of Boredom
Distributed for Reaktion Books
A Philosophy of Boredom
Lars Svendsen brings together observations from philosophy, literature, psychology, theology, and popular culture, examining boredom’s pre-Romantic manifestations in medieval torpor, philosophical musings on boredom from Pascal to Nietzsche, and modern explorations into alienation and transgression by twentieth-century artists from Beckett to Warhol. A witty and entertaining account of our dullest moments and most maddening days, A Philosophy of Boredom will appeal to anyone curious to know what lies beneath the overwhelming inertia of inactivity.
192 pages | 4 3/4 x 8 | © 2005
Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology
Philosophy: General Philosophy
"An amusing, learned, and articulate philosophical study of one of humanity’s prime afflictions. . . Svendsen has a way with words, and, unlike many writers of philosophy books, is also blessed with a sly wit and a thorough knowledge of popular culture. You would be hard pressed to find a better book to make do with this year than this wonderful little one, which is, somehow, despite the desolation at its core, oddly uplifting."
Phil Miller | The Glasgow Herald
"A good, solid practical work of philosophy, in the tradition of Aristotle’s Ethics . . . he has a light touch and a playful attitude."
Tom Hodgkinson | The New Statesman
"When an investigation into boredom is done well, as it is in A Philosophy of Boredom, it is positively gripping."
Times Literary Supplement
"A fascinatingly modern essay on ennui and emptiness . . . Svendsen’s thesis is so cool that boredom, linked with desire rather than need, suddenly seems like a desirable state of being in an agitated age."
"Quite fascinating"-The Times Online
Ben Macintyre | The Times Online
"Lars Svendsen, author of A Philosophy of Boredom, is anything but boring on the subject."
Harry Mount | The Daily Telegraph
"For a serious work of philosophy, Boredom exhibits a light touch and impressive pop-cultural range. . . . It’s not boring."
"Far from boring, this is a highly accessible and entertaining study."
"An engaging read . . . touches upon many points which indeed are central to anthropological concerns. . . . I highly recommend this book."
Yasmine Musharbash | Australian Journal of Anthropology
"Witty. . . . Unlike Scandinavian philosophers known for sterile prose styles, Svendsen combines droll dismissal of statistical research, incisive readings of boredom art . . . and etymological ponderings of the nuances among boredom. . . . You will not be bored reading him for the first time."
Carlin Romano | Philadelphia Inquirer
Table of Contents
One: The Problem of Boredom
—Boredom as a Philosophical Problem
—Boredom and Modernity
—Boredom and Meaning
—Boredom, Work and Leisure
—Boredom and Death
—Typologies of Boredom
—Boredom and Novelty
Two: Stories of Boredom
—Acedia: Pre-modern Boredom
—From Pascal to Nietzsche
—Romantic Boredom, form William Lovell to American Psycho
—On Boredom, Body, Technology and Transgression: Crash
—Samuel Beckett and the Impossibility of Personal Meaning
—Andy Warhol: Renouncing Personal Meaning
Three: The Phenomenology of Boredom
—Ontology: The Hermeneutics of Boredom
Four: The Ethics of Boredom
—What is an I?
—Boredom and Human History
—The Experience of Boredom
—Boredom and Maturity
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