I have just been reading an article by Theodore Dalrymple in Taki’s Mag. In it he describes receiving a catalogue of antiquarian books, something he is passionate about. I copied the two sections of the article that most interested me and pasted them below:
…the catalogue reminds me that the world is so infinite in its variety that our brief time on it cannot, or at least should not be able, to exhaust our interest. I used to tell my patients that it was vastly more important, from the point of view of reaching contentment, that they should lose themselves than that they should find themselves; and that, in losing they would find themselves and most of their problems would disappear, at least for the time they remained lost.
…this single 62-page antiquarian bookseller’s catalogue had enough in it to occupy me for more than a lifetime. It is my regret that I shall not live long enough to explore everything in it, let alone everything else beside, but it is the glory of the world that its interest is without end. As for my patients who were bored and who created convoluted difficulties for themselves to disguise that fact, I came to the conclusion that the world seemed dull and slow moving to them by comparison with videos, films, shows, and television. The greatest cause of boredom in the modern world is entertainment.
I have no idea if Dalrymple is right. It would be interesting to know whether or not people got equally bored before the invention of movies and TV. Speaking personally, it is the promise of interacting with other people that gets me out of bed in the morning. If there is no one around then I listlessly lie about until mid-afternoon. I’m not much of a self-motivator and an antiquarian’s catalogue and all the books therein certainly couldn’t entice me from my duvet.