Since you have mentioned Bloom from Joyce's Ulysses as a contrast to George Sanders, I offer the following: The irony is that Bloom (like the rest of us) strolls about and often encounters the mundane (which is often boring) but finds much to be curious about within the mundane. If we fall into the trap of believing in nothing or having no curiosity, then everything is boring and we become doomed to a rather dismal existential choice (like Sanders), but believing in something (as Joyce did in spite of himself) has its own rewards because even the daily mundane encounters yield life-enhancing discoveries (about the self if not about the others).
A brilliant piece of irony, Frank, that you made the subject of boredom so engaging and intriguing.Why, I wonder, does passivity have such a gravitational pull? That a person who was never bored a minute of his life, as soon as he found himself laid up in a hospital bed for a few days, had to will himself against indifference, and by extension, boredom? Most of us recognize this; I, too, have caught myself being quietly pulled down into it from time to time, needing to actively jump away and reawaken my mind. But why might that be? Why is that negative pull so strong? Moreover, why is entropy such an unyielding, dominant force in the psychological realm and physical universe?-GP.S. I'm not sure that I agree with R.T. on his point that we need something to "believe in" lest we be "doomed" to boredom. Is a belief system synonymous with curiosity? It would seem that a lack of faith in any particular idea or thing might actual correspond with INCREASED curiosity -- i.e., you feel that you really know nothing, and hence chase down truth and experiences in search of some understanding. No?
Greg, if you are uncomfortable with a conventional (orthodox) definition of belief (i.e., one that implies an ineffable higher power but is usually connected with God by most people), perhaps you might be more amenable to "belief" as I intended it in this context and as I understand it to have been embraced by some within English Romanticism (i.e., intensity of and dynamic "belief" in Imagination (beyond simple curiosity), especially with respect to the rather spiritual correspondence between Man and Nature). In any event, my use of the word "belief" is idiosyncratic (highly personal) and should not be presumed to conform to any particular dogmatic religious belief in God; my use of the word "belief" is, I think, more ecumenical (if I can impose that description), and it suggests positive engagement with a higher power (of your own choosing) for purposes of heightened sensibilities and engagement with all that it is transcendental. As for my more orthodox (and personal) engagement with matters of faith (which is not necessarily the same thing as belief), please see my own recent blog entry.
I'm just not so sure that a "positive engagement with a higher power" is necessary to achieve "heightened sensibilities and engagement with all that it is transcendental."I'm also not sure what you mean by "simple curiosity" and why you seek to draw a line between it and imagination. They would seem part of the same continuum. (To be clear, I see curiosity in degrees across the spectrum; and even a simple form of it shouldn't be dismissed.) Curiosity drives our engagement with the unknown. And from those new interactions can spark new thoughts and concepts (i.e., imagination at work).Again, why does a higher power HAVE to be a part of this paradigm? I'm not suggesting that it couldn't; a belief system would seem a natural part of this sort of intellectual and visceral process (for the right persons). I just can't get my head around why you think it HAS to.-G
Greg, I think we can agree to disagree (at least on some of the points), and I would wrap it up by saying that I have simply offered my personal perspective, and that, after all, is all any individual can rely upon (unless a person subordinates his or her thinking to sectarian dogma, which I most assuredly do not). My approach to the topics we've touched upon is not systematic, it is not refined, and it is still very much a work in progress. That being said, if I--and let me again emphasize the individuality of the personal pronoun--if I did not have belief in something (someone) transcendent, then I might wind up like George Sanders and despair of existential boredom. But, hey, that's just me. At any rate, I've enjoyed the exchange, and it provokes me to continue thinking and to continue sorting out my own "belief" system.