We struggle to take boredom seriously: it seems like such a spoilt, adolescent complaint. We are told repeatedly as children not to admit to boredom because it means we have no inner resources. I conclude now I have no/ inner resources, because I am heavy bored, wrote the US poet John Berryman in Dream Song 14. (He received more hate mail for this poem than any other).

But we make a mistake in dismissing or trivialising boredom. It is a devastatingly powerful force. Marriages end from boredom; addictions take hold in boredom; violence thrives on boredom. In some respects our tireless efforts to evade boredom have shaped the modern world. What powers Facebook, Instagram and Twitter if not the ever-replenishing fuel of our boredom? The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard called it “the root of all evil”...

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