ennui- before and after (1)

Ennui sounds nice to hear or say but to experience it is a bizarre bluntness. It would generally be used to call the state in which you are too bored to even say that you are bored. But it is not an indifferent silence, nor is it apathy; it is the slow sinking of a lifeless existence.

Facing emptiness that envelops emptiness, with no fear or anticipation since all feelings have become blunt, calendars, clocks and biological needs just become meaninglessly ritualistic. It is the blind eye seeing itself bleed. It is the poet whose words had vanished long long ago. It is a pain which lingers just a bit too long to be a sensation. It is in a way, a divinity discarded.

Just google it and you will end up thinking it is just boredom. It is not. After a point you do not ‘feel’ bored; in fact, you do not ‘feel’. It is not like the apathy of chronic schizophrenia, it is not the listlessness of severe depression; it is not an illness at all. It is a state of life, a state of mind into which willingly or not one is enmeshed for what appears at the time as eternity.

To define the abstract would be like painting in darkness. But the process of painting must go on in the hope that soon there would be light and forms become visible. So, ennui can be defined for now, as the feeling of emptiness that permeates into inactivity, leaving the body to function while the mind switches to a stand-by mode.

Ennui can be caused by complacency that is believed to be contentment. It is a process in life that may start at any point. It will not only prevent life from moving on, it would also bring about a feeling that life need not be pursued. It is not about suicide, rather it is about emotiocide. Left unnoticed ennui can disrupt one’s life ethos and rupture one’s social fabric.

It is slow and silent in its arrival but sustained and sickening during its presence. It may be a result of one’s satisfaction before the completion of a victory. Success is one’s own level of satisfaction- at having attained a minute’s applause or the posterity’s acclamation. Success generally brings about an adoration- even is masked with envy, from others. But the danger of success lies in its potential to breed ennui.

After tasting success we all would like to let the taste linger for some more time as a memory. We would prefer the world to remember it too. We would start believing that we have arrived. True and total success would lead to a state of mind in which there is peace, calm and purity of satisfaction. But, most often in life, we encounter victories in battles and imagine that we have been crowned after a war. We pause to bask in our own glory and believe that our first step just would end at the pinnacle. We know we have to move, but we may presume that we have overcome the dictates of time. We want time to wait for us till we finish our celebrations. Time however by its wonderful nature moves on. When we have awakened from the short nap after drinking success we find that our army has moved on without us. We would like to catch up but our laziness masks itself as confidence and we pause more. We feel we need rest even when we are not totally exhausted. That would be the time when ennui sneaks into life.

Our mind would lie to us because it knows the truth that truth would be painful. We settle down and start developing the lie. We feel we can take rest. We believe we are taking rest. We do nothing but wait. We wait not in anticipation but in bafflement.

I have often felt that all I need is a pen and a few sheets of paper to write a book. The demands then widen to need a room, an ambience, a nicer table and a better chair, some music in the background, some comforts within reach… and, even if everything in the wish list is provided the mind would come up with reason for inaction- ‘the mood’ hasn’t arrived! This is not depression which can vanish with proper medication. It is the arrogance of affordability.

When we believe that we can afford to just do nothing for the present, we have welcomed ennui. When in the state of ennui, we do not even anticipate. The angst, the anger at incapacity, the melancholy of emptiness and the attentive indifference of blunted emotivity all diffuse into a chaotic smudge on the mind’s canvass over which no image can be painted and under which no image can be seen.

Sometimes just as how it arrives unannounced ennui leaves without trace. By then, it would be too late to begin another campaign. We would have lost our army, our weapons and our grounds.

It need not be a midline shift in ambition and talent that some associate with midlife. It is always the consequence of comfort that one has extended a bit too much in the aftermath of a victory- big or small. When you feel you have done enough, you have invited ennui. So what would be enough to have enough of life?

More on this later.

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6 Comments on “ennui- before and after (1)”

  1. saravana raja Says:

    an in-depth writeup kept me thinking… it reminds me Gorky’s Ardhamonavs novel. the protaganist of the novel, a russian bourgeoisie and how sinks in voidness..

    //arrogance of affordability//

    can we say ennui is an propertied class phnemonen?

  2. rudhran Says:

    perhaps it is a class phenomenon- the have need something more even if to worry and the havenots have no such worry

  3. Rajkumar Says:

    real ennui will not let you even to write about it. knowing that you are so makes it not so

  4. Anu Says:

    Goodness!your writing has me baffled!!

  5. Hannah Says:

    Nice post, doc. When do we see the second part…


  6. […] Ennui/Mid-life crisis […]


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