Bertrand Russell on Boredom
October 04, 2021
"We are less bored than our ancestors were, but we are more afraid of boredom."
In 1930, Bertrand Russell wrote about boredom so brilliantly and with such prescience that his words remain doubly relevant today:
We are less bored than our ancestors were, but we are more afraid of boredom. We have come to know, or rather to believe, that boredom is not part of the natural lot of man, but can be avoided by a sufficiently vigorous pursuit of excitement.
The special kind of boredom from which modern urban populations suffer is intimately bound up with their separation from the life of Earth. It makes life hot and dusty and thirsty, like a pilgrimage in the desert. Among those who are rich enough to choose their way of life, the particular brand of unendurable boredom from which they suffer is due, paradoxical as this may seem, to their fear of boredom. In flying from the fructifying kind of boredom, they fall a prey to the other far worse kind. A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy can live.
Read more here, then see other famous thinkers – including Søren Kierkegaard, Andrei Tarkovsky, Susan Sontag, Adam Phillips, and Renata Adler – [in defense of boredom].