The Politics of Boredom and the Boredom of Politics in David Foster Wallace's The Pale King

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This essay explores the theme of boredom in David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. The Pale King treats boredom as a complex and varied phenomenon, thus recovering and furthering a latent theme of Infinite Jest, and sets the characters’ experiences of boredom in the larger context of postindustrial life and the transformations brought about by neoliberal economic policy. Ultimately, The Pale King reveals the ties between personal, cultural, and political boredom, considers the troubling implications of these ties, and suggests that the ability to pay attention comprises one way to resist postmodern boredom and to counteract its greater societal effects.

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