On Boredom

The word ‘boredom’, apparently, only entered the English Language when Charles Dickens used it in the novel ‘Bleak House’, which was written in 1852.

I learnt this highly interesting fact from today’s issue of ‘Mind Your Body’, the Straits Times newspaper supplement on health issues, and it remained at the back of my mind throughout the day, manifested, as it was, in the faces of my P6 pupils as we ploughed through yet another practice paper. (I jest– they were actually quite interested in the comprehension passage on China’s one child policy and had plenty of side stories to share.)

Some thoughts:

1. Isn’t it appropriate that the title of the book that first introduced the word ‘boredom’ to the world is so dreary? Imagine how ironic it would have been if the title of the book had been something happy and jaunty like ‘The Joy of Life’ instead.

2. How did people express boredom before 1852? I’m sure the emotion existed before the word did. (I later found out that the phrase ‘be a bore’ has existed since 1768, which might mean people found other people boring before they realized how bored they themselves were…hmm.) Still, were people before Dicken’s time always engaged? When I watched the latest movie adaption of Jane Eyre recently, I was left with a sense of gratefulness for modern technology. I simply can’t imagine living in a huge old dark castle with only candlelight and a fireplace for light and entertainment after sunset… Many of the inhabitants of those huge dark old castles and bleak houses probably used the time to read, rest and think though, which is also probably how so many of the great novels got written.

But still.

Hurrah for television! And computers! And the IPad!

If you’ve ever wondered how people in other parts of the world look like when they watch television though, an artist has decided to make that a subject of his artwork http://fandris.planet.ee/index.php?/watching/the-series/

It’s strange though… All the people seem to look well, bored.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s