Ammo Grrrll writes about her husband, a man who is never bored…”the most self-amusing human I have ever known, mostly due to an overabundance of enthusiasms and boundless curiosity about every dang thing in the world.” She contrasts this attitude with the attitudes of those people who really can’t think of anything to do unless they need to go to work.
Valerie Jarrett famously said of Obama: “He’s been bored to death his whole life.” We can’t be sure, of course, that Jarrett is here actually reflecting Obama’s true characteristics; but we can be sure that she feels that the characteristic of being bored one’s whole life is something admirable, a sign of intellectual and maybe moral superiority.
(I think it’s correct to say that the affectation of boredom has traditionally been associated with members of aristocracies)
Years ago, when I visited the American Museum of the American Indian, one of the exhibits was a collection of jewelry made by former senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Cheyenne)…really fine stuff, not that I’m any judge. I remember wondering at the time: how many other politicians have a serious hobby or avocation such as this? I thought then and I think now that it’s probably pretty exceptional; most of them seem to have few interests other than the pursuit of power and activities directly related to that pursuit.
In his important memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, Sebastian Haffner discusses a period (during the Stresemann chancellorship) when the political and economic climate in that country stabilized significantly. Most people were a lot happier:
The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.
But…and I think this is a particuarly important point…a return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:
A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.
To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.
I believe that in America today, there are a lot of people–largely, but not exclusively on the Left–whose political activity is motivated in large part by their inability to make their own lives great, beautiful and worth while.
Discuss, if so inclined.