Over the last few months I've been struck by an ever increasing boredom, and I've lost interest in many of the things that I once filled my time with. Everything is pointless, so what point in doing anything, and what fun is there to be had in existence, when it all comes to naught?
Quite aptly, I recently happened upon an interesting blog called Happiness & Philosophy, on which I discovered a link to an essay by Arthur Schopenhauer, called 'The Emptiness of Existence'. Some extracts will illustrate my current mood perfectly:
Of every event in our life it is only for a moment that we can say that it is; after that we must say for ever that it was. Every evening makes us poorer by a day. It would probably make us angry to see this short space of time slipping away, if we were not secretly conscious in the furthest depths of our being that the spring of eternity belongs to us, and that in it we are always able to have life renewed.
Reflections of the nature of those above may, indeed, establish the belief that to enjoy the present, and to make this the purpose of one’s life, is the greatest wisdom; since it is the present alone that is real, everything else being only the play of thought. But such a purpose might just as well be called the greatest folly, for that which in the next moment exists no more, and vanishes as completely as a dream, can never be worth a serious effort.
...That human life must be a kind of mistake is sufficiently clear from the fact that man is a compound of needs, which are difficult to satisfy; moreover, if they are satisfied, all he is granted is a state of painlessness, in which he can only give himself up to boredom. This is a precise proof that existence in itself has no value, since boredom is merely the feeling of the emptiness of life. If, for instance, life, the longing for which constitutes our very being, had in itself any positive and real value, boredom could not exist; mere existence in itself would supply us with everything, and therefore satisfy us. But our existence would not be a joyous thing unless we were striving after something; distance and obstacles to be overcome then represent our aim as something that would satisfy us—an illusion which vanishes when our aim has been attained; or when we are engaged in something that is of a purely intellectual nature, when, in reality, we have retired from the world, so that we may observe it from the outside, like spectators at a theatre. Even sensual pleasure itself is nothing but a continual striving, which ceases directly its aim is attained. As soon as we are not engaged in one of these two ways, but thrown back on existence itself, we are convinced of the emptiness and worthlessness of it; and this it is we call boredom. That innate and ineradicable craving for what is out of the common proves how glad we are to have the natural and tedious course of things interrupted. Even the pomp and splendour of the rich in their stately castles is at bottom nothing but a futile attempt to escape the very essence of existence, misery.
...If one turns from contemplating the course of the world at large, and in particular from the ephemeral and mock existence of men as they follow each other in rapid succession, to the detail of life, how like a comedy it seems!
It impresses us in the same way as a drop of water, crowded with infusoria, seen through a microscope, or a little heap of cheese-mites that would otherwise be invisible. Their activity and struggling with each other in such little space amuse us greatly. And it is the same in the little span of life—great and earnest activity produces a comic effect.
A comic effect indeed, but I'm not laughing. I'm bored and angry. Everything is pointless and like a universal acid, that knowledge reduces existence to the absurd. No ifs, no buts, and any arguments to the contrary are merely blah, blah, blah.
As far as I can see, the solutions are delusion, boredom or death, and given those choices, I can't decide which, if any, is the best (or worst). I've tried delusion, and it's over-rated. Suicide seems rather drastic (although very effective at eliminating angst and boredom). And boredom is a kind of torture (one I personally find quite unbearable for anything but the shortest of times).
"What to do, what to do?" I ask myself. Like Alice down the rabbit hole, surrounded by the nut-jobs of Wonderland.
Funnily, Schopenhauer lived to the ripe old age of 72, spending the last 27 years of his life alone, apart from a couple of pet poodles for company. According to Wikipedia he was a militant atheist and absolute pessimist, and if that description is not apt for Schopenhauer, it is certainly a good description of yours truly. I'm not yet entirely bored of my blog, so for now I'll keep on with my own pessimism and atheism. I just wish I could be certain I'd reach 72, and I might stop stressing so much...Go Top