CARRBORO, NC— James Clark and Myra Linton, Carrboro residents, achieved simultaneous ennui this week after several days of not trying.
“It happened earlier today, or maybe yesterday. I don’t know,” said Clark, speaking from his house on Poplar Avenue, where he sat on a thrift store sofa in nothing but briefs and a long coat. “I think part of the magic of ennui is that you can’t tell it’s happening until it’s happening, and at that point you don’t really care.”
Linton described the moments leading up to the experience.
“I was over at his place and we were just sitting in the living room,” she said. “It was about four or five, so the sun was coming through the shades at a pretty low angle. All the lights were out in the house. The whole place was stuffy because of the radiator and I couldn’t make myself care about school or anything. James asked me if I loved him. I said love didn’t mean anything and that I didn’t think so. Then he kind of laid down on the floor and rolled on his side. That’s when I knew he was experiencing ennui too.”
Clark attempted to express the feeling of a shared ennui.
“To anticlimax with another person is to listen for an echo and not hear it, only to realize you never called out in the first place,” he said. “On one hand, you’re seeing her true self in all its banality, in the listlessness of its existence, and you know that her soul is weary too, but on the other hand, you know how little that matters. The second hand is a lie. We are all in the same moment in which we were born.”
A loosely rolled joint lay abandoned on Clark’s counter.
Clark and Linton reported that they had difficulty achieving simultaneous ennui in the past.
“I find it easier to reach ennui by myself,” explained Linton. “When I’m in the shower or alone in my room, I’ll just be struck by how arbitrary and pointless my life is; it’s much harder to do that with another person. Sometimes Ellis will be working on something for his alt-rock ska band, The Albatross, or I’ll be caught up in my animal rights campaign, and we’ll forget the emptiness of our own existence. It can be hard to get so totally bored around another person that the absurdity of life comes back into focus.”
Asked what it felt like to experience ennui together for the first time, Clark said, “I don’t know. I didn’t care. We kind filled ourselves with mutual indifference and held it there for as long as it lasted. Then I hated Myra and she hated me and we hated ourselves and we were alone in the desert of the present, seeing each other across a moonscape, then I fell asleep.”