I also recently finished David Foster Wallace's novel The Pale King. A stunning elevation of boredom, a clinical investigation and winking celebration of it, a riff on its demands and depths, I enjoyed it mightily. Sometimes meandering through its tangential character studies and context-free sequences my mind would wander. I fell asleep over its pages at least once. Some footnotes got short shrift. But I take satisfaction in having read it because it was wise and amusing and odd and, yes, boring.
A thing I don't find boring: television. I watch the hell out of it, maybe too much. Reality programming, sports, reams of cooking, plenty of movies—I'm engrossed. I stayed up late the other night to catch up on episodes of The Walking Dead that I'd recorded, in advance of the new season. When the premiere came this past Sunday, I was ready. Drinking, too, I like—whiskey, wine, and beer. I'm not much for clear spirits, but a cold and crisp gin martini scratches an itch once in awhile.
In college, I read the Confessional poets. I found many of them a revelation: Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds, and Alan Ginsberg in particular. I majored in creative writing, to my parents' chagrin, and took several poetry workshops, which I loved. A few poems that I produced could, with some latitude, be called confessional. I'm not sharing them, in this forum or any, but I will confess that they were bad. A single example: In a sonnet to an early girlfriend, I described our first sexual encounter, when I was still a virgin. In one line, I compared my state of coital innocence not to a summer's day, a rose of Sharon, or a lily of the valleys, but an "unshucked clam." I never published any poems and no longer write them.
I haven't read Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation, but I did read her recent essay in New York,"Elizabeth Wurtzel Confronts Her One-Night Stand of a Life," which wasn't at all likeable, not particularly honest, and definitely self-serving, frequently lazy, and often silly—but I read to the end, with captivated disdain and envy.
In 1969, John Berryman, a noted poet of the Confessional school, if one can be referred to that way, published "Dream Song 14," which contained the following lines:
Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so./After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,/we ourselves flash and yearn,/and moreover my mother told me as a boy/ (repeatingly) "Ever to confess you're bored means you have no/Inner Resources."
The first sentence of Jacques' Manifesto, which comes under the heading "The duties of the confessional journalist are to entertain and inform," states that in the "age of the Internet," one must "aim to encourage comments, generating enlightening discourse around your work... Failing this, aim to get hits." I've read the Manifesto several times—boring, too, but engaging, in a done-for-science way—and I can't say for sure if it is advancing an argument or perpetrating a satire. Berryman, for his part, when asked, in a 1972 interview in The Paris Review,how he reacted to being labeled a confessional poet, replied: "With rage and contempt! Next question."