The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

Interesting Enough

July 7, 2006 | 37 Comments

“The most boring speech” was once a category in the Guinness Book of World Records. The winner was a lecture on “How to Tell Left From Right,” complete with black-and-white slides of arrows illustrating methods to tell the difference from various angles. I don’t recall any of the runners-up. They were not memorable.

Which leads to a familiar philosophical paradox. The “most boring” entry could not have deserved its title. It was more interesting than the rest by virtue of its spectacular, record-setting boringness. The honors should have gone to a speech more mediocre in its dullness, one of the speeches which now eludes my memory.

Which leads to a further paradox, one which seemingly compels the conclusion that everything must be interesting. Whatever speech seized the honor from the most boring one would itself become the subject of fascination and thus disqualification. And so on, and so on. Each speech would have its fifteen minutes of fame, riveting our attention in the process of losing its distinction.

Can it really be that nothing is boring? We know this cannot be. We are bored, and often a lot. Logic tells us not only that some things boring, but that there must be something perfectly boring. For once bored, we can imagine being more bored — and imagining being more bored is no different from being more bored, boredom itself being a mere state of mind.

The question is how to reach that ultimate state. Attempts to achieve it are underway in the Blogosphere, but for the most part have been stymied by the considerations underlying the paradoxes discussed above. The overreach of The Most Boring Blog in the Universe is self-evident. The World’s Most Boring Blog suffers from the same pretense, and in any event is bested by The Most Boring Blog in Colorado. No need to consider whether a Wyoming or New Mexican site would triumph — The Boringest Blog in Town would beat any less parochial efforts. Location, however, is not the key. I do not know where The Most Hideously Boring Blog is, but it is clearly trying much too hard.

Modesty doesn’t help matters. Possibly The World’s Most Boring Blog still fails by reason of its attempt at most-ness in the world-ness. The Second Most Boring Blog in the World is doomed by its transparent cleverness. And by the prospect of The Third Most Boring, The Fourth Most Boring, ______*, and the Fifth Most Boring.**

The problem, I think, is in the very identification of the goal. To announce that one is trying to be the “most,” or even to be “boring,” expresses an aspiration. A self-conscious striving to excel in some way, to be interesting. As every party-goer knows, bores do not know they are being boring. They are not self-conscious. They are not trying at all. They disinterest us naturally and effortlessly.

So the truly most boring blog will not broadcast its intentions. It will not even know of them. The lack of effort might be obvious from the name, perhaps something random and forgettable like “r5Jg2ggg” or “sitcsigtwyobotitmbpaIwryitmpce.”

Although that still might not be sufficient. One final problem is that like the sound of the hypothetical tree falling in the forest, boredom must be experienced to exist. A blog so boring that no one actually read it would bore no one. The most boring blog must be one which causes the most boredom to the most people, one which maximizes readership while minimizing interest. One which manages to keep its readers on the edge of their seats, half-asleep.*** One which is not at all interesting, but with enough promise to draw people back in order to defeat their expectations again and again. A blog of the sort which might, say, compel its readers to leave comments claiming that the site is so boring they will not likely return, or, say, comments that they left out of boredom months ago and now mostly hang out in the forums.

To strike such a delicate balance, however, might require greater effort than any bore could summon. Trying not to try is harder than it seems. I could certainly not attempt it. My passion is unbridled, will forever be devoted to an atheist blog which discusses neither religion or God and does so without malice or sarcasm. I certainly hope it is interesting. Interesting enough.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

*I had originally intended to fill in this blank with the name of a blog with which I have previously expressed distaste, but could not do so without violating my new policy against sarcasm and malice.

**Google will not come up short until you search for “Seventh Most Boring.” Until now.

***Those who fall completely asleep, however, might have Ann Althhouse’s most boring dream (“I was napping on the sofa, and I dreamed I was napping on a different sofa and trying very hard to wake up”).

Comments

37 Responses to “Interesting Enough”

  1. Curious Onlooker
    July 7th, 2006 @ 11:37 am

    One which is not at all interesting, but with enough promise to draw people back in order to defeat their expectations again and again. A blog of the sort which might, say, compel its readers to leave comments claiming that the site is so boring they will not likely return, or, say, comments that they left out of boredom months ago and now mostly hang out in the forums.

    Do I detect a hint of sarcasm?

  2. Choobus
    July 7th, 2006 @ 11:39 am

    “Trying not to try is harder than it seems.”

    No. Try not. Do… or do not. There is no try.

  3. Thorngod
    July 7th, 2006 @ 1:59 pm

    I must say that’s a very clever effort for the new RA mise-en-scene. Time will tell.

  4. ocmpoma
    July 7th, 2006 @ 2:35 pm

    “Logic tells us not only that some things boring, but that there must be something perfectly boring. For once bored, we can imagine being more bored — and imagining being more bored is no different from being more bored, boredom itself being a mere state of mind.”

    I can only hope that this part isn’t serious, since it’s about as flawed as a line of reasoning could be, while still being boring.

  5. Jahrta
    July 7th, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

    So your new reason to host this site is to bore us to tears? You’ve been at it for quite a while, regardless of your true motivation. You drove most of us out of the main page en masse by the time you got to your 20th diatribe on the evils of abortion.

  6. Choobus
    July 7th, 2006 @ 2:45 pm

    “Logic tells us not only that some things boring, but that there must be something perfectly boring. For once bored, we can imagine being more bored — and imagining being more bored is no different from being more bored, boredom itself being a mere state of mind.”

    Isn’t that more or less the same argument used by St. Anselm to “prove” the existance of God?

  7. Nightfly
    July 7th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

    The problem is that, even the most innocuous, humdrum blog can catch fire. A while ago, someone wrote a post on their blog that simply read, “Post.” The first respondent, naturally enough, replied “Comment.” And the thing took off, reaching such levels of absurdity that, to quote the modern master of paradox, “Nobody goes there any more, it’s too crowded.” (Can’t find the link at the moment.)

  8. The Raving Atheist
    July 7th, 2006 @ 3:18 pm

    Nightfly:

    Here (see comments 619, 696 and 701).

  9. Nokot
    July 7th, 2006 @ 4:34 pm

    I feel weird now.

  10. Paul
    July 7th, 2006 @ 6:50 pm

    That comment on how places can have so many people that few people wind up there is generally atttributed to Yogi Berra, but how could have said so many great, hilraious things? (“When you come upon a fork in the road, take it!”).

    He must have had a writer.

  11. vuljean
    July 7th, 2006 @ 7:18 pm

    RA:
    “Trying not to try is harder than it seems.”

    Choobus:
    “There is no try.”

    You tried, Choobus, to contradict him, but you failed. Next time, don’t bother, without not bothering.

  12. Evil_Mage_Ra
    July 7th, 2006 @ 10:55 pm

    He was quoting Yoda, numbnuts.

  13. Nightfly
    July 8th, 2006 @ 12:38 pm

    RA – yep, that’s the one! And even he had to give up and close comments.

  14. vuljean
    July 8th, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

    Oh. Then maybe I brought wisdom out of foolishness.

  15. Choobus
    July 8th, 2006 @ 8:14 pm

    anal do you do?

  16. HellRaiser
    July 9th, 2006 @ 12:54 am

    Hey everyone, Im new here but i thought id share this with everyone i thought it was quite humorous. Ive been starting a ruckus on this cathnews website and this one chick writes this back to me:

    I hope we can manage to help you become a follower of Jesus. Its fabulous belonging to His family. Equally important I hope we can help you to become a Catholic because there is no Church on earth like it and I know I am in the right church because it gets attacked so much.
    Tell me, when do you hear of the other denominations (Anglican, Baptist, evangelical, Lutheran, Greek Ordthodox, Maronite, Coptic etc) being constantly attacked as is the Catholic Church. That alone should tell you that it is the right place to be. The others are left alone because really if you bring down the “Mother” the children will scatter. So its important to try and bring down the “Mother.”
    Anyway, Freethinker, there must be something to this Christianity because there are billions of us and unless we are all deluded we believe that there is something special about being a follower (at times limper) of Jesus of Nazareth.

    And my response:

    Not to be blunt but your argument for being a catholic makes absolutely no sense. PS. Ive been to quite a few masses and it feels like listening to a bunch of mindless zombies. Good luck converting me…wont happen.

    Well what do yall think? What a twit.
    See everyone in Hell

  17. Thorngod
    July 9th, 2006 @ 2:30 am

    I think you may have turned down a so-so piece of Catholic stuff.

  18. Thorngod
    July 9th, 2006 @ 4:22 am

    Unless the Almighty, on the cusp of the Biblical “Fall,” utterly restructured terra firma, including the entire ecosystem, putting teeth and claws on creatures that formerly needed none, and seeding the entire crust of Earth with fake fossils in order to deceive inquisitive atheists, then the “Fall” is not merely incredible but impossible. Think about it, my theist friends. If evolution is a fact (including the descent of man) then the “Fall,” as literal truth or as metaphor, is necessarily utter nonsense. Most fences are as broad as a pregnant whale, but this one you cannot straddle. If you insist on a “Fall” in any sense of that label, then you cannot logically claim that you also accept the theory of evolution.

  19. Lily
    July 9th, 2006 @ 9:29 am

    Gee, thanks for setting us all straight, Thorn. Just when I thought I had a firm grasp of theology and evolution, you set me straight. When, oh when, will the learning stop!!!! Now I have to go out and learn all about ID… :-(

  20. June
    July 9th, 2006 @ 11:10 am

    Lily, I am sure it would interest many of us here if you could briefly set forth your view of the world, which seems to have successfully integrated mythology, theology, evolution, quantum physics, etc. Also, what’s your view of astrology?

  21. Thorngod
    July 9th, 2006 @ 11:26 am

    #18 was misposted. I intended it for the “Pot O’ Gold” thread. My apologies.

  22. Lily
    July 9th, 2006 @ 11:59 am

    My view of astrology? At best a silly diversion.

  23. Nokot
    July 9th, 2006 @ 1:23 pm

    HellRaiser:
    While it may satisfy some base urge to stir up trouble on a religious website, your tone was rude and arrogant which is in stark contrast to the Catholic girl’s post filled with friendlessness and ignorance. It was a perfect opportunity to explain in a kind manner why her argument is illogical. Instead of saying “you make no sense,” maybe give an example and using her own words–eg “abortion is constantly attacked, thus that alone should tell you that it is the right place to be.” Or give her an example of something that was widely believed with fervent confidence which turned out to be completely wrong. That the Earth is flat, or that demons and not germs cause disease.

    When I first professed my atheism as a teenager (in a small religious community), I relished my passion for stirring up trouble among the religious. I didn’t care how others responded to it, or what impressions they formed of me. It was fun and a way of rebelling and asserting my myself, and at the same time establishing group solidarity with other atheists. It feels so courageous and thrilling to exude confidence in the face of the vast opposition of a religious society, doesn’t it? I came to realize that in the process I was a hypocrite for being so rude and unempathetic. I didn’t want to grow up to be a person like that, and I realized that I already was if I continued in that way. Also I do hope to change minds, and being nice is usually best for that I think.

  24. Thorngod
    July 9th, 2006 @ 1:42 pm

    NOKOT, what you said needs saying from time to time. I have to admit myself to often being guilty of the snideness and beligerence you refer too. I am not that way toward people I know or meet in person, but there is an impersonality in internetcourse that encourages ego display. I’m trying to rein mine in, and I appreciate such reminders as yours.

  25. trebor
    July 9th, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

    Dear RA,
    We miss you! Please come back…

  26. June
    July 9th, 2006 @ 4:48 pm

    On the other hand, this is NOT a religious site. Moreover, it is (as of this writing) still dedicated to
    discussing how religion trivializes our culture.

    Here in San Diego, we have been fighting a 15-year battle to get rid of a huge cross that dominates the local landscape. We hear a lot of the same arguments for accommodation, that we must be nice, that it is a War Memorial. As if no Jew, no Muslim, no Atheist ever died for America. As if one cannot honor the war dead with a huge flag.

    Nokot, I want to see your polite smile when they come to shove their cross up your butt.

  27. Lily
    July 9th, 2006 @ 5:11 pm

    What is this senseless anger that motivates you, June? Who is this “they” that would harm Nokot or anyone else for that matter?

    Wait, don’t tell me. This is the theocracy that is just around the corner, right?

  28. Kreme
    July 9th, 2006 @ 9:49 pm

    I came to realize that in the process I was a hypocrite for being so rude and unempathetic.

    I think this holds only if you care to socialize in a cordial manner, where people are as kind to you as you are to them. Even if you are rude, it’s not hypocritical unless in the process of being rude, you’re telling people they shouldn’t be rude. Even if people are rude to you in return, they are being hypocritical if they espouse a dogma which states that one shouldn’t be rude.

    Wait, don’t tell me. This is the theocracy that is just around the corner, right?

    It’s the theocracy already subverting in in many respects, and one I care to push back to keep from progressing further.

  29. HellRaiser
    July 9th, 2006 @ 10:11 pm

    Thanks NOKOT. You pretty much hit the nail on the head. And Thorngod is right. In person i would never be so rude but on the internet it is so much easier. Thanks for the advice.

  30. June
    July 9th, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

    I don’t know who they are, Lily. Maybe you can get the names of sodomite priests from the Vatican, or a list of pedophiles who have found Jesus from San Quentin. Why do you want to know?

  31. vuljean
    July 9th, 2006 @ 11:47 pm

    June,

    Good luck suppressing religious expression. It worked for Cromwell, Robbespierre, and Stalin. Why not San Diego? Wait!, what was that name?!!! “San” as in Saint is an outrage, you should change it to “That Guy, Diego.”

  32. Nokot
    July 10th, 2006 @ 1:57 am

    “Nokot, I want to see your polite smile when they come to shove their cross up your butt.”

    So long as they lube it up first. :)

  33. June
    July 10th, 2006 @ 8:10 am

    Easy there, Vuljean. One argument at a time. We just want to get a 30-foot cross off government land. And thanks for making my point, that religious names like ‘San Diego’ are rammed down our throat.

    My intent had been to remind ourselves that this is a site for rude, ranting, aggressive atheism, not Heidi singing
    Cumbayah. Oh Lord, I’m heartily sorry if I offended anyone!

  34. Nokot
    July 10th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    June wrote: “On the other hand, this is NOT a religious site. Moreover, it is (as of this writing) still dedicated to
    discussing how religion trivializes our culture.”

    Baseless vitriol and “preaching to the converted” foster a kind of social cohesion that may be useful, superficially, to atheism as a movement. On the other hand it is completely antithetical to principals of secular thought and may be counterproductive. In what way do ad hominems, hyperbole, and rudeness further that discussion about “how religion trivializes our culture,” or any discussion for that matter? It is *irrational* to make arguments based on fallacies such as these, and that is hypocritical for atheists who pride themselves as being more rational than theists. Theists pick up on it, and correctly dismiss the arguments against religion even if the conclusion of the arguments is valid.

    June wrote: “Oh Lord, I’m heartily sorry if I offended anyone!”

    There is a difference between being offended by blasphemous words spoken firmly but with tact and being offended by a rude tone. The former is unfortunate but the latter is an appropriate reaction.

  35. vuljean
    July 10th, 2006 @ 6:59 pm

    June,

    I wish to clarify: I was mocking you for being petty.

  36. bernarda
    July 11th, 2006 @ 10:02 am

    Is there a prize or a guinness record for the most boring blog subject and is RA trying to win it? If he keeps this up, he might also be in the running for the most boring blog.

    No sarcasm or open animosity, only “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. A real “G” rated blog that everyone in the family can enjoy.

  37. oliver
    August 3rd, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

    ??? rather a random post. RA is in search of a Platonic ideal of boringness — hope that’s not what future posts are going to be aiming for! Was mildly diverted by the thought of how a winner in a most boring competition is automatically less boring and therefore should be disqualified etc, catch 22. But not sure it’s got much to do with raving atheism.

  • Basic Assumptions

    First, there is a God.

    Continue Reading...

  • Search

  • Quote of the Day

    • Fifty Random Links

      See them all on the links page.

      • No Blogroll Links