Friday, February 17, 2006
On German cops and transgressors, and the metaphysics of the bored.
If German policemen were forced to read German philosophy, they would -- provided they didn't die of boredom themselves -- also learn that ennui is no simple thing. One of the greatest and most contested philosophers of the twentieth century, Martin Heidegger, who could by no account be described as a philosopher of fun, saw in boredom, or in what he called the "drifting here and there in the abysses of our existence" -- humanity's terminal sinking into general indifference.

Are all Germans that bored? Doesn't the world, in which party girl Paris Hilton is considered for the role of Mother Theresa in a forthcoming Indian movie or in which pop icon Madonna consistently refuses to stay with her own age, offer enough hilarity to cheer everybody up?

One shouldn't be too critical of the Germans. After all, they carry the burden of an overwhelming philosophical tradition on their shoulders every day. Thanks to Heidegger & co., there are Germans who wake up in the morning to ponder the history of metaphysics as they tiptoe their way to the bathroom. There are Germans who look into the mirror while brushing their teeth, and, while observing the dark circles under their eyes, inevitably ask the big question: Why is there something, rather than nothing?
Michael L. Raposa actually has a book on the topic of boredom in philosophy with quite a bit of focus on Heidegger. Boredom and the Religious Imagination. It's one of those books I keep meaning to pick up but always have others I want to buy more.
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