Boredom (images)

In terminology, boredom philosophy, or "ennui philosophy", refers to the philosophical fruit of an ennui-sensitive thinker, i.e. someone very sensitive to boredom, according to which the philosophical work produced by such a thinker is a means fix the situation, i.e. to engage the "flow state", as Csikszentmihalyi would say, wherein a feeling of timelessness and freedom seemingly exists; or as German polymath Johann Goethe famously put it, at the age of eighty, a boredom philosopher, is a person who distances oneself from phenomena, interactions, reactions, processes or states of existence that might lead one to "die of ennui" in the mind.

The list of so-called “boredom philosophers”, according to Lars Svendsen (2005), include: Pascal, Rousseau, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin, Adorno, Goethe (IQ:230|#1), Flaubert, Stendhal, Mann, Beckett, Buchner, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Baudelaire, Leopardi, Proust, Byron, Eliot, Ibsen, Valery, Bernanos, and Pessoa, and Peter Zapffe. [1]

Writer Maria Popova conjectures that so-called Chsikszentmihalyi flow state the ennui philosopher's escape from the ravaged memories of past states of boredom:

Boredom appears to be the polar opposite of what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has famously termed ‘flow’, a state of intense focus you enter whilst absorbed in an enthralling task, when you lose track of time.”
— Maria Popova (2012), “The Cultural History and Adaptive Function of Boredome” (Ѻ), a review of Peter Toohe’s Boredom: a Lively History, Jun 6

This would seemly, according to this hypothesis, put Willard Gibbs (IQ:210|#5) into the classification of an "ennui philosopher":

I had no sense of the value of time, of my own or others, when I wrote it.”
— Willard Gibbs (c.1890), reflection on writing On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances [3]

Likewise, Scottish physicist James Maxwell (IQ:210|#4), Gibbs' one intellectual playmate, and his famous age three repeated query "What's the go 'o that?", seems to have had a deep sensitivity to boredom, similar to
Cure for Boredom

Goethe | Hirata
The similarities between German polymath Johann Goethe, cited with an IQ of 225 (Cox, 1926) and American prodigy Christopher Hirata, also cited with an IQ of 225 (Woods, 2001), who each, independently produced a variant of human chemical thermodynamics, seem to have both been afflicted with a similar type of "ennui bug".

On 20 Jul 1831, Goethe, age 81, in conversation with Johann Eckermann, stated his views on ennui to the effect that the passions, whether in occupation (e.g. literature, scientific, etc.,) or with people, are the only cure for ennui for the deep-minded thinker:

"After dinner, a short half hour with Goethe, whom I found in a very cheerful, mild humor. He spoke of various things, at last of Carlsbad; and he joked about the various love affairs which he had experienced there. "A little passion," said he, "is the only thing which can render a watering place supportable; without it, one dies of ennui. I was almost always lucky enough to find there some little ‘elective affinity’ (Wahlverwandtschaft), which entertained me during the few weeks. I recollect one circumstance in particular, which even now gives me pleasure.

I one day visited Frau von Reck. After a commonplace chat, I had taken my leave, and met, as I went out, a lady with two very pretty young girls. ‘Who was that gentleman who just now left you?’ asked the lady. ‘It was Goethe,’ answered Frau von Reck. 'O, how I regret,' returned the lady, 'that he did not stay, and that I have not had the happiness of making his acquaintance!' 'You have lost nothing by it, my dear,' said Frau von Reck. 'He is very dull among ladies, unless they are pretty enough to inspire him with some interest. Ladies of our age must not be expected to make him talkative or amiable.'

When the two young ladies left the house with their mother, they thought of Frau von Reek's words. 'We are young, we are pretty,' said they, 'let us see if we cannot succeed in captivating and taming this renowned savage. The next morning, on the promenade by the Sprudel, they made me, in passing, the most graceful and amiable salutations, and I could not forbear taking the opportunity of approaching and accosting them. They were charming! I spoke to them again and again, they led me to their mother, and so I was caught. From that time we saw each other daily, nay, we spent whole days together. In order to make our connection more intimate, it happened that the betrothed of the one arrived, when I devoted myself more exclusively to the other. I was also very amiable to the mother, as may be imagined; in fact, we were all thoroughly pleased with one another, and I spent so many happy days with this family, that the recollection of them is even now highly agreeable. The two girls soon related to me the conversation between their mother and Frau von Reck, describing the conspiracy which they had contrived for my conquest, and brought to a fortunate issue."

In 1995, Hirata, age 12, similarly, while simultaneously enrolled in junior high and Deerfield High School, IL, where he was completing college-level courses in physics and multivariable calculus (see: prodigies and calculus), where he was tutored by the high school's top student, spending his spare time reading novels, such as Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (1866); stated the following:

“I'm bored at the junior high school. The pace is too slow. It's a more stimulating environment at the high school.”
Christopher Hirata (1995), Chicago Tribune Interview

This, of course, was a year before he would score 5th in the world (and 1st among Americans) in the International Physics Olympiad in Oslo, Sweden, after 10-hours of completion, against 259 of the brightest (age 19 or less) minds in the world, from a total of 56-countries, therein setting a world record for "youngest medalist" at the IPO.

American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims would seem to be classified as a boredom philosopher, being that the seeming reason he was held-back in second grade, and made to take the entire year over again, at a new school, the following year, owed to report cards, by his teachers, stating that he was “board” in class (something Thims discovered in boxes in the basement, in his coming-into adult age (circa early teens). It was at this point, going forward until an age 19 high school graduation, that Thims completely detached from the educational process, sitting in the back of the class for the next 11 years (grades 2-12), remaining a passive observer, calmly waiting until the day he would be set-free from cultural mandated state educational “imprisonment”, so to say.

The following are related quotes:

“Two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”
Arthur Schopenhauer (c.1840) (Ѻ)

Real orgies are never so exciting as pornographic books. In a volume by Pierre Louys all the girls are young and their figures perfect; there's no hiccoughing or bad breath, no fatigue or boredom, no sudden recollections of unpaid bills or business letters unanswered, to interrupt the raptures. Art gives you the sensation, the thought, the feeling quite pure—chemically pure, I mean, [with a laugh] not morally.”
Aldous Huxley (1928), Point Counter Point [2]

“What can possibly be more existentially disturbing than boredom?”
— Jon Hellesnes (c.1990) [1]

Boredom always precedes a period of great creativity.”
Robert Pirsig (c.1991) (Ѻ)

1. Svendsen, Lars. (2005). A Philosophy of Boredom (pg. 20) (pdf). Reaktion Books.
2. Huxley, Aldous. (1928). Point Counter Point (pg. 7) (Ѻ). Publisher.
3. Cropper, William H. (2004). Great Physicists: the Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking, (section II: Thermodynamics, pgs. 41-134; ch. 9: “The Greatest Simplicity: Willard Gibbs”, pgs 106-23). Oxford University Press.
Goethe, Johann, Eckermann, Johann, Soret, Frederic, Oxenford, John. (1901). Conversations with Eckermann: Being Appreciations and Criticisms on Many Subjects (elective affinities, 5+ pgs). M.W. Dunne.

Further reading
● Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1975). Beyond Boredom and Anxiety. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

TDics icon ns