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Abstract

In Johnno (1975), David Malouf portrays Brisbane as a space of boredom. For Dante, the narrator, the city is “a place where nothing happened and where nothing would ever happen, because it had no soul,” “too mediocre even to be a province of hell.” And for Johnno, the character whose life is recounted, it is “the ugliest place in the world,” “the bloody arsehole of the universe.” Marked by World War ii, the architecture configures a sleepy sub-tropical town, adorned with downy palm trees and hard surfaces of brown and beige weatherboard. Nevertheless, this realm of boredom—“so slatternly, so sprawlingly unlovely”—nourishes Johnno’s intellectualism and Dante’s wistfulness, providing a sense of self and place but inciting the quotidian denunciation of their surroundings and their eventual departure. Following Martin Heidegger’s suggestion to study boredom through the literary, the close analysis of the descriptions of Brisbane explores the interdependence between the condition and the architecture where it unfolds. In Johnno, far from being an environment of stasis, the capital of Queensland is a force of physical and ontological movement, with influence in the spatiality of its inhabitants. Progressing from the individual to the social and communal, boredom configures experience and thus affects actions of innovation and reactions to stagnation, as a mood—both undesired and incantatory.

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In: The Culture of Boredom

Abstract

In Johnno (1975), David Malouf portrays Brisbane as a space of boredom. For Dante, the narrator, the city is “a place where nothing happened and where nothing would ever happen, because it had no soul,” “too mediocre even to be a province of hell.” And for Johnno, the character whose life is recounted, it is “the ugliest place in the world,” “the bloody arsehole of the universe.” Marked by World War ii, the architecture configures a sleepy sub-tropical town, adorned with downy palm trees and hard surfaces of brown and beige weatherboard. Nevertheless, this realm of boredom—“so slatternly, so sprawlingly unlovely”—nourishes Johnno’s intellectualism and Dante’s wistfulness, providing a sense of self and place but inciting the quotidian denunciation of their surroundings and their eventual departure. Following Martin Heidegger’s suggestion to study boredom through the literary, the close analysis of the descriptions of Brisbane explores the interdependence between the condition and the architecture where it unfolds. In Johnno, far from being an environment of stasis, the capital of Queensland is a force of physical and ontological movement, with influence in the spatiality of its inhabitants. Progressing from the individual to the social and communal, boredom configures experience and thus affects actions of innovation and reactions to stagnation, as a mood—both undesired and incantatory.

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In: The Culture of Boredom

Abstract

As a semantic reaction against the miserabilism derived from the economic crisis and social instability of the first half of the nineteenth century, joie de vivre surfaced in France. It denotes enjoyment and the ability to recover from calamitous events. In The Insect (1857) by Jules Michelet, joie de vivre constitutes movement and architectural creation, epitomised in the beehive – ‘the veritable Athens of the Insect World’. Yet the sentiment turns ambiguous in La Joie de vivre (1883) by Émile Zola, for whom it is an attitude required not only to face the contradictions of modernity but also to succeed in the capitalist manipulation of nature through architecture. To explore how the built environment manifests emotional experience, this essay follows the trajectory of joie de vivre, from its appearance as an idiomatic amalgamation to other conceptual variations, including élan vital and jouissance.

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In: Emotions: History, Culture, Society