"All together the details form a pattern with which you familiarize yourself. You were to know the pattern of things in order to notice deviations. The man standing still on the corner of the building and staring down into the street. The white pickup truck stopped at a crossroads in the distance. The flat, green, night vision rendering of a man slinking into a canal. What preserved your focus through the monotony of tower guard was the knowledge that if you missed something important, your friends would die. Stare too long into the stars and you give someone just enough time to place an IED at the crossroads. Doze off for a few moments and later that day you could be gathering pieces of your friend to send home. In this sense, boredom was really a kind of immersion in the environment. Merleau-Ponty mentions the artist Cezanne’s immersion into the landscape, beginning with detailed attention and moving toward a kind of existential crescendo of pure contemplation: “He would start by discovering the geological structure of the landscape; then, according to Mme Cezanne, he would halt and gaze, eyes dilated.‘ The landscape thinks itself in me,’ he said, ‘and I am its consciousness.’” What was true for the painter is truer in a broader sense for the soldier peering out of his guard tower, though their intentions are different. Boredom becomes an intervening subject through which we are able to commune with things—objects, memories, notions—beyond our immediate experience. The boredom was dense, but it was also the medium our hopes and fears moved through. The boredom was not empty. We filled it with meaning. We were wide awake inside of our boredom."
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor