More from Benjamin’s “Storyteller”
“If sleep is the apogee of physical relaxation, boredom is the apogee of mental relaxation. Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away. His nesting places—the activities that are intimately associated with boredom—are already extinct in the cities and declining in the country as well. With this the gift for listening is lost…It is lost because there is no more weaving and spinning to go on while they [stories] are being listened to. The more self-forgetful the listener is, the more deeply what he listens to is impressed upon his memory. When the rhythm of work has seized him, he listens to the tales in such a way that the gift of retelling them comes to him all by itself.”
Actually, there is a lot of boring work today, but it is loud and hard. So rock music was invented, to tell stories in a rhythmic setting that can compete with the dreadful clamor that envelops us. And it can drive music and story so deep into the subject that they never die away; earworms are tiny flaws in the sensorial net by comparison with how the endless repetition of “classic rock” in public places hammers experience into dust. On the other hand, the “rustling in the leaves” is intelligent, non-boring work—criticism for example. And art—art of the intelligent, well-intentioned, responsible, non-boring kind, full of wise understandings and explanations—”critical practice” in other words. I’m wondering if my type of abstraction is a way to bring back the storyteller in a work setting that allows experience to hatch, but without repetition. It wants to climb above time as repetition. This is a mare’s nest of familiar ideas, but something new might come out of it.