Boredom was invented in 1760

Tom Hodgkinson reviews A Philosophy of Boredom by Lars Fredrik Svendsen, in The New Statesman:

Lars Svendsen’s inquiry is a good, solid practical work of philosophy, in the tradition of Aristotle’s Ethics and Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. He has a light touch and a playful attitude, and draws on a wide range of texts, from Martin Heidegger and Samuel Beckett to Iggy Pop and the Pet Shop Boys.

The opening section is particularly strong. I was fascinated to learn that boredom was invented in 1760; the word is not found in English prior to this, though related concepts such as melancholy and acedia did exist. Acedia is from the Greek akedia, meaning “not to care”. Usually translated as sloth, it meant not so much laziness as a betrayal of your duty to observe God. The monk who gave up, who didn’t care, was committing possibly the most grievous sin of all, because not caring about God implied not caring about being lustful, avaricious or proud.

More here.