(Video link here.) Over at the ever-illuminating Kottke, we found an interesting piece about the virtues of dullness. Who knew there was a Dull Men’s Club, an online community of men wishing to just be ordinary?…Or that novelist Nicholson Baker had much to say on the subject after he worked briefly as a substitute teacher? Or that the threads that runs through both is gratitude and curiosity?
In Born to Be Mild, a short documentary about the Dull Men’s Club, the touching first minute and a half tells it all:
We got tired of reading and hearing so much about people always trying to get a fancier car, a bigger house, travel to more exotic places…The dull men’s club is…a sanctuary, a place where we can hide out and get away from the glitz and glam, the hurly-burly, all the noise of modern life, the pressure to keep up…
We regard ourselves as dull but not boring, we’re grateful for so many things in our lives. There’s the biscuit Appreciation Society, the Traffic Cone Preservation Society, The Apostrophe Protection Society, the Cloud Appreciation Society…It goes on and on...
But it is Nicholson Baker’s writing in the New York Times that nails it:
That’s the extremely interesting thing: Everything is interesting. Potentially. Sometimes it may not seem so. You may think a certain thing is completely without interest. You may think, or I may think, eh, dull, boring, heck with it, let’s move on. But there is someone on this planet who can find something interesting in that particular thing. And it’s often good to try. You have to poke at a thing, sometimes, and find out where it squeaks. Any seemingly dull thing is made up of subsidiary things. It’s a composite — of smaller events or decisions. Or of atoms and molecules and prejudices and hunches that are fireflying around in unexpected and impossible trajectories. Everything is interesting because everything is not what it is, but is something on the way to being something else. Everything has a history and a secret stash of fascination.
Everything is interesting because everything is not what it is, but is something on the way to being something else. Everything has a history and a secret stash of fascination.
3 replies on “Hidden Wonders in ‘Dullness’”
I spent a few weeks in London last Spring. While sitting in a coffee shop mid-day I noticed an older man greet an older woman. They sat down together and cups of tea were brought to the table.
After a period of polite silence I overheard the woman ask the man, “Giles, so tell me what has been happening in your life.” The man paused, smiled and said, “Sarah, honestly nothing much at all.” After another fairly long silence the woman smiled and replied, “Three cheers for ordinary!” To which they both toasted one another with their tea cups!
It has become my new motto. 🙂
Jeez, Nick, who didn’t know that! Ho-hum!
That is so dear! Thank you.
“Three cheers for ordinary!”