Boredom and Ritual

Today’s reading has taken me in a strange direction. I was thinking about culture stayers and culture seekers; people who spend their lives becoming more profoundly steeped in a culture they were born into, and those who turn away from their ‘native’ culture and explore another, or  others. It seems to me that these are ‘types’ who in one sense are very different to each other, but often find themselves face to face, since it is culture stayers that the culture seekers seek out to learn from. They share a fascination with a particular culture, but, I would argue, from very different viewpoints.

These have to do with being attracted to something new and strange on the one hand, and wanting to be enveloped in the known on the other. Another perspective would be to see the one as akin to  ritual, and the other driven by boredom. Ritual is the repetition of well-understood and known actions. Boredom eschews this in favour of novelty.

While exploring this I encountered a paper by Thiele on Heidegger and boredom. Heidegger identified boredom as a defining ‘mood’ (Befindlichkeit) of modernism. He regarded moods as fundamental to our being in the world, not a distortion of our perception. This led me to question whether we can ever be without a mood. Can we be neutral, so to speak? Furthermore, I am unsure whether boredom is really a mood? As an (ethno)musicologist, indeed as a musician, the promotion of mood to crucial existential medium, is an exciting idea if we accept that music can shape and produce moods – but this would clearly need to be argued out as it is anathema to a number of well-established positions in music aesthetics.