The reason I dredge that up is that the WSJ had a vintage A-hed story yesterday about Boring 2010, a conference in England organized by media-company employee James Ward and devoted, unlike so many other ones, to dull presentations.
Proceedings at the sell-out event were kicked off by Mr. Ward himself, who discussed his tie collection at great length, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. He noted that as of June 2010, he owned 55 ties, and 45.5% of them were of a single color. By December, his tie collection had jumped by 36%, although the share of single-color ties fell by 1.5%. "Ties are getting slightly more colorful," he noted. Also, apparently, his taste was improving. By December, only 64% of his ties were polyester, down from 73% in June. Even less stirring was a milk tasting. Ed Ross, an actor, swirled, sniffed and sipped five different milks in wine glasses, commenting on each one's flavor, finish and ideal "food pairing." (Cereals got mentioned a lot.)It sounds like this was less about boredom than an elaborate parody of self-obsession and connoisseurship, that is, about things we fail to find boring about ourselves that bore everyone else. It sounds pretty hilarious, and I imagine the pressure to keep it all deadpan made it more so. It also seems like more evidence that boredom is situational, relational; it doesn't adhere in subject matter but in relationships. I am almost never bored when alone, probably because I find myself endlessly fascinating but also because I can ricochet between any number of distractions without any negotiation or warning. I don't have to justify what I am preoccupied with in any given moment. The presence of others conjures the boredom of compromise.