Boredom Is Dead. And We Have Killed It.

Have you not heard of that bored man who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I’m bored! I’m bored!” — As many of those who were on their cell phones and laptops were sitting around just then, he provoked no visible reaction from the ear-budded, coffee-sippers. Has he got lost? Tweeted one. Did he lose his way like an old guy? messaged another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated? Does he need the wi-fi password? — Thus they typed and memed and laughed. But you couldn’t tell unless you were online.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is boredom?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed it¬†— you and I. All of us are its murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drain the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite chat session? Do we not feel the squeeze of crowded space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying boredom? Do we smell nothing as yet of the imaginative decomposition? Imagination, too, decomposes. Boredom is dead. Boredom remains dead. And we have killed it.

“How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was inspiring and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has been smothered to death under our consumption: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall go viral? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become critics simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us — for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto.”

Here the madman fell silent and looked again at the typing class; and they, too, were silent and stared at their screens. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. “I have come too early,” he said then; “my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the headphones¬†of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars — and yet they have done it themselves.

It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Invited to their lobby coffee shops and visitor meet-and-greets, he is said always to have replied nothing but: “What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of The Creator?”