I took a trip to the Eslite bookstore in Tsim Sha Tsui this weekend and came away with some new reading material.
I was already reading “How to be bored,” part of the School of Life’s “How to…” series which applies philosophical insights to modern life. I had really enjoyed “How to Think About Exercise” which quietly revolutionised my ideas (and practice) and so a friend had gotten me this.
The book’s central thesis is that in the business of our lives and the ever-present temptations of digital devices, we have lost the capacity to be bored, or perhaps more accurately, idle. We are always doing “something”, although its often trivial, at the expense of “nothing.” The loss of this idle, empty time has left us with an inability to construct our “narrative self”, the book argues, leading to a loss of enjoyment and a dull sense of dissatisfaction in everything we (frantically) do. In essence, being bored is an important experience and one that is in danger of dying out.
I had come to this same conclusion myself the year before while backpacking across Northern Thailand and Laos. With the trip totally unplanned in casual backpacker style I had spent a lot of time sitting at bus stations by rice fields, or swinging my legs on dusty train platforms, and with no local data plan on my phone the option for online entertainment was taken away. Later I realised, these times had been the highlight of the trip. When in Hong Kong do I ever give myself permission to do….nothing?
Meanwhile I also saw some more entertaining titles, like the one above, and the strange Japanese magazine below, which seems to be aimed at straight men in their thirties, anxiously chiding them to maintain their sex appeal by exercising and to become “cultured” in their efforts to be a “grace hunter”, that is “a man women find fascinating”.
I also picked up the latest issue of Casa Brutus which had 100 art installations to visit around the world, many of them featured in the post below, including Olafur Eliasson’s current work at the Versailles Palace and Mariko Mori’s Olympic installation above a waterfall in Rio de Janeiro.