Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wilhelm Sasnal-Bored to death

“(...) that what he saw was by all means new, but so hopelessly boring that he was often seized by sadness, and he began to regret not having been mauled by a tiger in Ceylon’s jungle.” (S. I. Witkiewicz, Farewell to Autumn)

“We are bored in the city, there is no longer any Temple of the Sun.”
(Gilles Ivain, Formular for a New Urbanism)

It is definitely not going to be boring! – Such words guarantee us distraction. They are a promise of something that allows us to forget the monotony of everyday life at least for a short while. Generally, we are happy to give up our routines and let go of them for a defined period of time – of course only to a certain extent. So what could a promise of the opposite mean – boredom until death.

Boredom. We are damned to remain in the everlasting same. Caught up in stagnation and without any impulse for change, we succumb to the omnipresence of steadiness. Every repetition, every extension in temporal continuum has the potential to bore. This potential is not eruptive, but covers our complete perception like an oily film. Like the perpetual recurrence of sunrise and sunset. Even the biggest sensation turns into a wasteland if it is continuous. Time extends into infinity while we stay tangled up in banal situations. Always the same view from the window, always the same chats with the same people, always the same faces on the street. A fierce reaction resembles more a hiccup than tension released through a thunderstorm. Dark clouds threaten throughout time that doesn’t seem to end although we always carry it around with us, always getting our hopes crushed – rather unsatisfying. But maybe time will stop for us once. Why? Maybe just to mock us.

We often dream about spectacular changes. But we want to be honest: exorbitant monotony, in which we are trapped like a fly in a spider’s web, gives us the feeling of safety and stability. If we happen upon something unexpected, we turn away in horror. The stable framework of our lives threatens to collapse. Changes are always a risk. You never know where they will lead.
Thus it is better to stay in one’s ancestral place, remain in the rhythm of everyday apathy, with its comfort of work. Do we really expect something? Most of the time, we choose that which is tried and tested – boredom. We live in boring times. The usual canon of rules and principles is like the chorus of the omnipresent jingle that can be heard in every shop. He who starts singing it, has lost the magic formula that invites us to expect the unexpected. Hypnosis and solidification, fruitless persistence – this is the time in which the ability to wonder naively has been lost. Frozen time, stagnation, a slanting plain of which we unstoppably slide down and desperately try to find something to hang on to. Always anew – so what to do?

Is your life boring? How can you understand it better? Do you have a choice or is the only thing left for you to turn to an arbitrary snapshot that is coincidentally nearby? Do you see more than just the usual boredom? Let’s try it with the pictures by Wilhelm Sasnal.

Can something be discovered in them that awakens our secret longings? Let’s look at the layers of paint as conflicting powers. Frozen picture, energy that has come to a standstill, cut out of the stream of events and turned into a solidified fragment by the artist. Unchangeable and attached to the moment of its origin via observation. And eternity shines into blankness.

But we should take a closer look. We discover patches that are blurred, subtly transfigured. Something disconcerting springs from them, and there are processes running that arouse our attention. Unidentifiable doubts sneak into the general banality. There are faces that successfully conceal themselves, blurred moments that awaken our curiosity and promise the end of boredom. Do they annunciate a breakup of conventions, a destruction of the union? Do they even radiate danger? The energised calmness contains inner tension, the conception’s irrationality evokes panic, a feeling of insecurity and an apprehension of decay. What worse could happen to us? But we have to pay attention. To remove the brew of life’s changeable parts that constitute the distress could mean setting free much worse agonies – unmeasurable boredom and a destiny that cannot be accomplished.

Kamila Wielebska