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In the ancient recipe, the three antidotes for dullness or boredom are sleep, drink, and travel. It is rather feeble. From sleep you wake up, from drink you become sober, and from travel you come home again. And then where are you? No, the two sovereign remedies for dullness are love or a crusade.
D. H. Lawrence
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To me, at least in retrospect, the really interesting question is why dullness proves to be such a powerful impediment to attention. Why we recoil from the dull. Maybe it's because dullness is intrinsically painful; maybe that's where phrases like 'deadly dull' or 'excruciatingly dull' come from. But there might be more to it. Maybe dullness is associated with psychic pain because something that's dull or opaque fails to provide enough stimulation to distract people from some other, deeper type of pain that is always there, if only in an ambient, low-level way, and which most of us spend nearly all our time and energy trying to distract ourselves from feeling, or at least from feeling directly or with our full attention. Admittedly, the whole thing's pretty confusing, and hard to talk about abstractly... but surely something must lie behind not just Muzak in dull or tedious places any more but now also actual TV in waiting rooms, supermarkets' checkouts, airport gates, SUVs' backseats. Walkman, iPods, BlackBerries, cell phones that attach to your head. This terror of silence with nothing diverting to do. I can't think anyone really believes that today's so-called 'information society' is just about information. Everyone knows it's about something else, way down.
David Foster Wallace
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That initial anger she had felt turned to sadness, and now it had become something else, almost a dullness of sorts. Even though she was constantly in motion, it seemed as if nothing special ever happened to her anymore. Each day seemed exactly like the last, and she had trouble differentiating among them.
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The enchantment of the sky, ever changing beauty almost ignored. Beyond words, without fixed form, not to be understood, or stated. It ravished away dullness, worry, even pain. It graces life when nothing else does. It is the first marvel of the day. Even when leaden grey it is still a friend, withdrawn for a time.
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Discipline in typography is a prime virtue. Individuality must be secured by means that are rational. Distinction needs to be won by simplicity and restraint. It is equally true that these qualities need to be infused wiht a certain spirit and vitality, or they degenerate into dullness and mediocrity.
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The great fact in life, the always possible escape from dullness, was the lake. The sun rose out of it, the day began there; it was like an open door that nobody could shut. The land and all its dreariness could never close in on you. You had only to look at the lake, and you knew you would soon be free.
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What will happen once the authentic mass man takes over, we do not know yet, although it may be a fair guess that he will have more in common with the meticulous, calculated correctness of Himmler than with the hysterical fanaticism of Hitler, will more resemble the stubborn dullness of Molotov than the sensual vindictive cruelty of Stalin.
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I am convinced that the human heart hungers for constancy. In forfeiting the sanctity of sex by casual, nondiscriminato ry "making out" and "sleeping around," we forfeit something we cannot well do without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized.
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There is a special blessing in old clothes, and that aside from their comfort, for which especially they are to be cherished. They confer a kind of anonymity on one who wears them gladly; all their bright places rubbed to a uniform dullness, they achieve an appearance so nearly nondescript that only a close scrutiny could learn that ever they held shape at all.
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I felt shame - I see this clearly, now - at the instinctive recognition in myself of an awful enfeebling fatalism, a sense that the great outcomes were but randomly connected to our endeavors, that life was beyond mending, that love was loss, that nothing worth saying was sayable, that dullness was general, that disintegration was irresistible.
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It is part of the pholosophic dullness of our time that there are millions of rational monsters walking about on their hind legs, observing the world through pairs of flexible little lenses, periodically supplying themselves with energy by pushing organic substances through holes in their faces, who see nothing fabulous whatever about themselves.
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How intense can be the longing to escape from the emptiness and dullness of human verbosity, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labour, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
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Could we see things always as we have sometimes seen them-and as one day we must always see them, only far better-should we ever know dullness? Greatly as we might enjoy all forms of art, much as we might learn through the eyes and thoughts of other men, should we fly to these for deliverance from ennui, from any haunting discomfort? Should we not just open our own child-eyes, look upon the things themselves, and be consoled?
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Whenever I become discouraged (which is on alternate Tuesdays, between three and four) I lift my spirits by remembering: The artists are on our side! I mean those poets and painters, singers and musicians, novelists and playwrights who speak to the world in a way that is impervious to assault because they wage the battle for justice in a sphere which is unreachable by the dullness of ordinary political discourse.
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Oh, how one wishes sometimes to escape from the meaningless dullness of human eloquence, from all those sublime phrases, to take refuge in nature, apparently so inarticulate, or in the wordlessness of long, grinding labor, of sound sleep, of true music, or of a human understanding rendered speechless by emotion!
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When you look at the whole package of energy, the food you eat should match the story you want to live, which means: as fresh as possible, without dullness, repetition, and routine. As colorful as possible, giving delight to the eyes; food is a rainbow brought down to earth. As cheerful as possible, maximizing moments of happiness and pleasure.
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Soft, hence the blackheart under my sweet muse popular sentiments and blandishments mark your rather tranquil passions so living were you, so sure was your stance of everything put in and nothing to get out those of your rule become of dullness and dreary repetition, as smiles and frowns assured them Kingdoms of Gold and Mirth but in thine cloister is disease of all kind and make...
Clay Scott Brown
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The cloud is driven by statistics, and even in the worst individual cases of personal ignorance, dullness, idleness, or irrelevance, every person is constantly feeding data into the cloud these days. The value of such information could be treated as genuine, but it is not. Instead, the blindness of our standards of accounting to all that value is gradually breaking capitalism.
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It is never a good practice to continue to sleep after sunrise. We should not think of staying in bed once we are awake; it increases laziness and dullness. Those who cannot decrease the amount of sleep quickly may do it in gradual stages. Those who do regular spiritual practice do not need much sleep.
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Most of life is so dull it is not worth discussing, and it is dull at all ages. When we change our brand of cigarette, move to a new neighborhood, subscribe to a different newspaper, fall in and out of love, we are protesting in ways both frivolous and deep against the not to be diluted dullness of day-to-day living.
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The people from the suburbs are bringing along their suburban values: cleanliness, orderliness, safety - dullness, in other words. As a result, urban areas are being hollowed out. Just look at Times Square in New York. No more sex shops, no drugs, no homeless people. The area is clinically clean and incredibly dull.
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Like all good things, prayer requires some discipline. Yet I believe that life with God should seem more like friendship than duty. Prayer includes moments of ecstasy and also dullness, mindless distraction and acute concentration, flashes of joy and bouts of irritation. In other words, prayer has features in common with all relationships that matter.
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The things that we preceive as beautiful may be different, but the actual characteristics we ascribe to beautiful objects are similar. Think about it. When something strikes us as beautiful, it displays more presence and sharpness of shape and vividness of color, doesn't it? It stands out. It shines. It seems almost iridescent compared to the dullness of other objects less attractive.
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The first bowl sleekly moistened throat and lips, The second banished all my loneliness The third expelled the dullness from my mind, Sharpening inspiration gained from all the books I've read. The fourth brought forth light perspiration, Dispersing a lifetimes troubles through my pores. The fifth bowl cleansed every atom of my being. The sixth has made me kin to the Immortals. This seventh... I can take no more.
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Here's a 165-year old but still fitting comment on public officials who are so sure they're right that they'll drive over a cliff rather than compromise: 'Always to be right, always to trample forward, and never to doubt - are not these the great qualities with which dullness takes the lead in the world?' William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair: a Novel without a Hero (1848). The author's middle name really was 'Makepeace.' As the quote shows, he disliked those who would not.
William Makepeace Thackeray
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To experience conflicts knowingly, though it may be distressing, can be an invaluable asset. The more we face our own conflicts and seek out our own solutions, the more inner freedom and strength we will gain. Only when we are willing to bear the brunt can we approximate the ideal of being the captain of our ship. Spurious tranquillity rooted in inner dullness is anything but enviable. It is bound to make us weak and an easy prey to any kind of influence.
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He lay back for a little in his bed thinking about the smells of food... of the intoxicating breath of bakeries and dullness of buns... He planned dinners, of enchanting aromatic foods... endless dinners, in which one could alternate flavor with flavor from sunset to dawn without satiety, while one breathed great draughts of the bouquet of brandy.
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What a dead thing is a clock, with its ponderous embowelments of lead and brass, its pert or solemn dullness of communication, compared with the simple altar-like structure and silent heart-language of the old sundials! It stood as the garden god of Christian gardens. Why is it almost everywhere vanished? If its business-use be superseded by more elaborate inventions, its moral uses, its beauty, might have pleaded for its continuance.
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He had grown fat on solitude, he thought, and had learned to expect nothing from the day but at best a dull contentment. Sometimes the dullness came to the fore with a strange and insistent ache which he would entertain briefly, but learn to keep at bay. Mostly, however, it was the contentment he entertained; the slow ease and the silence could, once night had fallen, fill him with a happiness that nothing, no society nor the company of any individual, no glamour or glitter, could equal.
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But by far the greatest hindrance and aberration of the human understanding proceeds from the dullness, incompetency, and deceptions of the senses; in that things which strike the sense outweigh things which do not immediately strike it, though they be more important. Hence it is that speculation commonly ceases where sight ceases; insomuch that of things invisible there is little or no observation.
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Think excitement, talk excitement, act out excitement, and you are bound to become an excited person. Life will take on a new nest, deeper interest and greater meaning. You can think, talk and act yourself into dullness or into monotony or into unhappiness. By the same process you can build up inspiration, excitement and surging depth of joy.
Norman Vincent Peale
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The zazen I speak of is not learning meditation. It is simply the Dharma gate of repose and bliss, the practice-realization of totally culminated enlightenment. It is the manifestation of ultimate reality. Traps and snares can never reach it. Once its heart is grasped, you are like the dragon when he gains the water, like the tiger when she enters the mountain. For you must know that just there (in zazen) the right Dharma is manifesting itself and that, from the first, dullness and distraction are struck aside.
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Not the children of the rich or of the powerful only, but of allalike,boys and girls, both noble and ignoble, rich and poor, in all citiesandtowns, villages and hamlets, should be sent to school.Education is indeed necessary for all, and this is evident if weconsiderthe different degrees of ability. No one doubts that those who arestupidneed instruction, that they may shake off their natural dullness. Butinreality those who are clever need it far more, since an active mind, ifnot occupied with useful things, will busy itself with what is useless,curious, and pernicious.
John Amos Comenius
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A woman may possess the wisdom and chastity of Minerva, and we give no heed to her, if she has a plain face. What folly will not a pair of bright eyes make pardonable? What dullness may not red lips are sweet accents render pleasant? And so, with their usual sense of justice, ladies argue that because a woman is handsome, therefore she is a fool. O ladies, ladies! there are some of you who are neither handsome nor wise.
William Makepeace Thackeray
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Certainly I do not wish that instead of these masters I had read baby books, written down to children, and with such ignorant dullness that they blunt the sense and corrupt the tastes of the still plastic human being. But I do wish that I had read no books at all till later - that I had lived with toys, and played in the open air. Children should not cull the fruits of reflection and observation early, but expand in the sun, and let thoughts come to them. They should not through books antedate their actual experiences ...
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1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. 2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. 4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. 5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. 6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ'd in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions. 7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you...
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We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life, and dullness. The deer strives with his supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes, and dollars. A measure of success in this is all well enough, and perhaps is a requisite to objective thinking, but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau's dictum: In wilderness is the salvation of the world. Perhaps this is the hidden meaning in the howl of the wolf, long known among mountains, but seldom perceived among men.
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The number one problem in academia today is not ignorant students but ignorant professors, who have substituted narrow "expertise" and "theoretical sophistication" (a preposterous term) for breadth and depth of learning in the world history of art and thought. ... Art is a vast, ancient interconnected web-work, a fabricated tradition. Overconcentration on any one point is a distortion. This is one of the primary reasons for the dullness and ineptitude of so much twentieth-criticism, as compared to nineteenth-century belles-lettres.
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Yet, even for us, there is left some loveliness of environment, and the dullness of tutors and professors matters very little when one can loiter in the grey cloisters at Magdalen, and listen to some flute-like voice singing in Waynfleete's chapel, or lie in the green meadow, among the strange snakespotted fritillaries, and watch the sunburnt noon smite to a finer gold the tower's gilded vanes, or wander up the Christ Church staircase beneath the vaulted ceiling's shadowy fans, or pass through the sculptured gateway of Laud's building in the College of St. John.
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Either over neither, both over either/or, live-and-let-live over stand-or die, high spirits over low, energy over apathy, wit over dullness, jokes over homilies, good humor over jokes, good nature over bad, feeling over sentiment, truth over poetry, consciousness over explanations, tragedy over pathos, comedy over tragedy, entertainment over art, private over public, generosity over meanness, charity over murder, love over charity, irreplaceable over interchangeable, divergence over concurrence, principle over interest, people over principle.
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The addict's reliance on the drug to reawaken her dulled feelings is no adolescent caprice. The dullness is itself a consequence of an emotional malfunction not of her making; the internal shutdown of vulnerability. Vulnerability is our susceptibility to be wounded. This fragility is part of our nature and cannot be escaped. The best the brain can do is to shut down conscious awareness of it when pain becomes so vast or unbearable that it threatens our ability to function. The automatic repression of painful emotion is a helpful child's prime defence mechanism and can enable the child to endure trauma otherwise be catastrophic. The unfortunate consequence is a wholesale dulling of emotional awareness.
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