Civilization and boredom

Theodore Dalrymple, on history:

I receive his catalogues regularly, and the first thing of which they always remind me is that scientific progress has been long and laborious, with many highly intelligent and even brilliant men barking up the wrong tree or wandering down a blind alley; but even more, that science as a self-conscious, experimental inquiry into nature was for hundreds of years an almost exclusively Western phenomenon and is a glory of our civilization. This is so no longer, and it may well be that the torch has passed, or will soon pass, to other hands; but I very much doubt that such a catalogue could be produced in any other region of Earth.

On tattoos:

Tempting for me also was Cesare Lombroso’s atlas of the tattoos and drawings of criminals, published in 1895, for I had long noticed in the prison in which I worked as a doctor that when prisoners take to drawing they draw in the same manner, on the same themes, and with the same aesthetic as tattooists. It is an aesthetic that, alas, is fast conquering the Western world, as millions have themselves tattooed. Modern man in the West, it seems, thinks and feels like a prisoner, if not a slave.

On entertainment:

As for my patients who were bored and who created convoluted difficulties for themselves to disguise that fact, I came to the conclusion that the world seemed dull and slow moving to them by comparison with videos, films, shows, and television. The greatest cause of boredom in the modern world is entertainment.

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