The Beauty In Boredom


Tom Jacobs quotes from DFW's The Pale King:

Enduring tedium over real time in a confined space is what real courage is… The truth is that the heroism of your childhood entertainments was not true valour. It was theatre. The grand gesture, the moment of choice, the mortal danger, the external foe, the climactic battle whose outcome resolves all – all designed to appear heroic, to excite and gratify an audience… Gentlemen, welcome to the world of reality – there is no audience. No one to applaud, to admire… actual heroism receives no ovation, entertains no one. No one queues up to see it. No one is interested.

Hurricane Sandy made Jacobs grateful for the "bureaucratic forces that quietly and almost imperceptibly but decisively shape our lives and the world we inhabit":

Bureaucratic institutions like FEMA, City Hall, the NYPD, the Department of Sanitation, Con Edison, and so forth. Catastrophes tend to offer them a moment to step into the spotlight and either dazzle or utterly fail. One of the reasons their emergence in the public’s attention is interesting is that the work they do in non-catastrophic circumstances is so workmanlike and dull that it’s boring to even think about.

(Photo: Residents of Staten Island speak with a FEMA representative, left, November 3, 2012 in Midland Beach after Superstorm Sandy left millions without power or water in the Staten Island borough of New York. The storm continues to affect business and daily life throughout much of the eastern seaboard. By Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images.)