Peter Toohey’s Boredom: A Lively History is a competent bit of work, hitting the key surface points of the topic, from Aristotle to Heidegger, with an obligatory early twenty-first-century excursus on neuroscience. It is, as the acknowledgements give away, a commissioned book – an editor’s idea of something that might appeal to a popular audience (perhaps along the lines of Wendy Wasserstein’s rather more whimsical Sloth); it does not quite deliver on its potential.1
- Indeed, some of Toohey’s readings of non-Classical material seem a bit, well, counterintuitive. I do not, for instance, agree that the ‘Cactus-Lover’ is a portrait of boredom – indeed, seldom have I seen a better portrait of contentment. I had intended to write more about the book but found myself succumbing to mere cattiness and so desisted: be thankful.