Archives for posts with tag: Boredom


I miss doing nothing. Or I miss the idea of doing nothing. I spend a lot of time thinking about which, and whether there’s a real difference, or an unreal difference, and that too takes up more time. I describe time as a resource. Unlike crude oil, corn and quartz, it is infinite, but spending too much time thinking about infinity has lost me years of my life since I was a child. Children rarely do nothing. Except maybe young girls. I see them sit quietly at restaurants with their parents. They’re coloring in a unicorn drawing. They’re quietly lost in their own sense of colouring. Maybe this is not exactly nothing but boys of the same age are like hyperactive protons, agitated energy, vectors unable to conceive of stillness. Boys adhere to Brownian motion. Parents writhe over the vexed question “When do we give our baby their first iPad?” Because new parents, maybe more than anyone, miss doing nothing the most. They crave it. They are in an endless jetlag of the body. It’s in their eyes. I miss doing nothing. I ask novelists if they read less novels than they used to, before 4G. Most say yes, their brains have changed. Forever. (The others are lying.) I know one person — a novelist — who refused to get a mobile phone of any kind. He was a modern day Walden. He enjoyed the detachment from digital obligations the moment he stepped out of his apartment into the city. He said it made him see and hear the birds and the trees more vividly. This delinking, he claimed, was a balm for his writing brain. He protected this like a dragon might protect a unicorn. Then he caved. We made him cave because we are bad people. And now he is just as addicted as the rest of us. He has either joined the world as it really is, or he has abandoned the other world of which he was one of the last remaining survivors. Part of me is relieved. The other part of me is sad. Purity, another voluntary victim. But this debate too can take up time, that diminished resource, which I literally have less of the more knowledge I gain. Perhaps wisdom is understanding time’s unknowability. And with this comes less time. To do more or to do less. To worry about doing more or not doing less. You see the quandary. The swamp. Which is why I spend more time missing doing nothing. I miss the blank alps of my mind, the thinned air of inactivity. Because more and more I am time, not in an eschatological sense, but, in essence. The neuroscientists can’t help me. They’re nascent. They referred me to the theologians. Who in turn said, seek the technologists. All the minutes waiting for Uber to arrive add up to some fraction of eternity, which I refuse to acknowledge except here, speaking to you. Time accelerates. It stretches. It vanishes. Collapses. All these metaphors. What if time is really just language? Language never freed us, according to most philosophers.

1.0     We are born into language.

1.1     And it is the case.

1.2     And that case is the world.

1.21   [ :/ ]

I watch other people swipe right on dating apps and I decide that I’d prefer a mechanical finger that would do the swiping for me… So I can use that extra time… To figure out why I’m afraid of swiping right… Why the gaze of a stranger whose name is a string of symbols in a language I don’t understand, why she fills me with the dread I have for the end of time itself, the kind theologians proscribe. This girl on my screen, she’s pretty, she’s from Bulgaria. She doesn’t miss doing nothing. She was born into a Brownian world where frat boys have turned technology into theology, demagogues have preyed upon the free time of crisis ridden boys, those agitated protons so close to exploding far away, or next to me, depending where I’m writing this and reading this. Bored people crave war. The sweet girl suspended in the downloadable app, she’s afraid to be a feminist and not be a feminist, she doesn’t know where she stands on pornography (subject/object). And this takes up so much of her thumb time she’s starting to think her spirit animal is a thumb. Her therapist tells her this, and Jung told her therapist, through red coloured notebooks and visions of eternal time. Returning time. Myths of return. Archetypes as emojis. I would like to follow Freud and Jung as they walked around the making of the modern world and I would do nothing. They would do nothing.

1.3     We did nothing.

1.4     We were always doing nothing.

1.41   Weren’t we?

1.5     [Battery dead symbol]


From The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present by Shumon Basar, Douglas Coupland, Hans Ulrich Obrist (Penguin, 2015)

Originally published in Ingrid Hora’s book, JOMOHOMO, 2016, designed by Åbäke.

A short text written for a new exhibition at the Athr Gallery in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia entitled The Bravery of Being Out of Range. It’s been a pleasure to meet the gallery’s founders, Mohammed Hafiz and Hamza Serafi, the latter of whom I have interviewed for the forthcoming Edge of Arabia book.


So, it’s like this. Right now, you’re everywhere. Every. Where. Not here, neither there, nor hither, thither. Not even in some space between the two extremes (as though there are only two ends to a line).  You’re outside the inside, outside of outside, but for reasons unknown, you are trapped. You feel “nothing much.”

You claim, however, that you hear it all. Your ears are “on fire.” In fact your doctor says you have labyrinthitis. You don’t know what this is—lab-ee-rin-th-eye-tus— so your doctor looks it up on his computer, an old cranky thing with keys that clatter and a screen that bows the way an arrow bows through endless time. Your symptoms are Google-able.

You absorb the news. “There is a labyrinth in my head?” This worries you—not because head-space is at a premium, and labyrinths can be colossal, but because lately, you have felt lost in a labyrinth that starts with your own computer screen and… Anyway, it ends … well, does it end? Are you waiting for it to end? If you’re everywhere is it only because everywhere you are looks like everywhere else you could be?

You told the doctor about a recurring dream, and he—his name being Carla Jung (WTF!)—tells you that other peoples’ dreams are boring. But, he adds, the daydreams of a repressed nation are not! You disregard his disdain and explain that in this dream you are nowhere. Literally, no-where*.

You think you have a body because how else could you think without one, huh, but, this body isn’t positioned anywhere, it doesn’t touch the ground, because there is no ground to touch, no gravity to rainbow, just infinity to jest.

You are no-where, Prince of Pale Disappearance. Already, Carla has been sent into a trash TV numbness. You are beyond the horizon of Jersey Shore and Sunset Beach, Huffington Jazeera, Explorer Safari, male and fe-Mail, Inboxes, Outboxes, Oprah endorsed amnesia and abuse, The Book of Steve Jobs, PINGS! triiiiiings, Quranic ring-tones and toned down voices in the “Quiet Zone” (imagine, shhh, imagine). Can you now feel restive rest, rolling, riding on an invisible ocean?

You can.

Only then to wake up, shivering, sweating like Robert De Niro neck-deep in method character, because in your dream that does away with the labyrinth and the labours of being everywhere at once, you have just died. It’s like this: Boredom has killed you.

* “If you think of thirty-seven people—those people are real, I mean every one of them has a face of his own, a family, he lives on his own particular street. Why, if you sell, say two thousand copies [of your book], it is the same thing as if you had sold nothing at all because two thousand is too vast—I mean, for the imagination to grasp.” Jorge Luis Borges,