I spend long stretches of time waiting to be bored. When it is hours after I have tried to go to bed, and everyone else is sleeping, boredom begins to sound intriguing. I have recently discovered, after many years of evenings of reading at ungodly hours, why certain types of reading material can make the wakefulness less painful. These reading materials are predominantly "dry" texts (perhaps about sugar), and they operate by a trick of attention. Their great advantage is that they can accommodate asymmetries, ambivalence, and indecision (am I tired, or not? do I really want to be reading this, or not? should I really get up tomorrow, or not? should I be sad about this, or not?) and if they ride a line between deathly boring and ineluctably charming, it is because they entrance you only enough to keep you from falling asleep, making you forget what you wanted by satisfying it to a laughably small degree. They bore you to tears, which may or may not be pathetic.

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