In order to compose his lecture on boredom, Garrity's ghost may have picked up (as Wallace almost certainly did) Spacks's text on boredom, referred to above.
Spacks also offers several conditions, what Garrity calls "cultural pressure," that necessitated the invention of boredom at the advent of modernity.
It is important to emphasize that Wallace wants to look at boredom as a particular type of discourse in The Pale King because this point can easily be passed over by merely translating the thematic of boredom into the thematic of existential angst or depression.
The temptation to equate boredom with depression lingers, however, and is evidence of the continuing influence of Infinite Jest on Wallace's work.
But while The Pale King still gives credence to the existential horror of existence, which may or may not be linked to clinical depression, (4) the novel is more interested in setting this kind of boredom in a revealing context.
Anxiety and angst are not just privileged, possibly hackneyed, existential ponderings or even real forms of depression, but are entangled with the notion of boredom, which is a concept that Wallace allows to open "outward" onto the world, as it were, instead of shrinking "inward" to the individual.
Wallace's ideas about boredom, too, will be added to the mix.
This is clearly a decade of anxiety and boredom (witnessed by the new drugs, which are meant to "focus" the distracted user), entertainment (TV shows, movies, and commercials), trends (disco), commodification of "culture" (shirts of Happy Days [itself a '50s nostalgia show] and of the '60s via underground comics [Robert Crumb]), signs and simulacra (fake wood paneling), and "spectacular" media events masking as political intrigue (Carter and Muskie).
I want to suggest that there are also significant gendered implications of these debates, which are often overlooked in the critical literature on boredom studies, and within wider debates about the attention and affect economies of contemporary media.
#BOREDWITHMEG: BOREDOM MANAGEMENT AS AFFECTIVE LABOUR
The series of 'What to Do When You're Bored' videos made by megastar YouTuber Meg DeAngelis on her MayBaby YouTube channel address boredom as a commonplace, if decidedly unwelcome, experience for teenagers.
It is important to note that while Meg's boredom videos are amongst the most popular of all the YouTube videos that address boredom in this way (ranging from around 2.1 million to 5.4 million views, and from 67,000 to 274,000 likes), they conform to what is a fairly standard generic formula that can be found in a whole host of other YouTube videos made by, or featuring, female teenagers, such as 'What Kaelyn Does When She is Bored!', 'What to Do When You're Bored At HOME!', and '10 Things to Do When you are BORED this FALL WITHOUT leaving the HOUSE'.
By relegating the affective labour of boredom management to young girls, these videos also re-activate historical gendered divisions between 'a higher-valued form of boredom understood as male and a lower-valued boredom understood as female' (Petro, p89).
Meg's videos stage-manage this temporality of boredom in particularly interesting ways.
These segments call on audiences' previous familiarity with boredom, but also work to shape specific ways of thinking about and responding to it.