Phenomenally Bored

Phenomenally Bored: The Role and Contents of Moods in Ergo Proxy

There are times when the total subjective experiences of our lives are sharply focused, especially when they are under the influence of a plenary mood. Consider for a moment what it's like to be in a jovial mood. It's like some benevolent force has decided to play favorites, and you are now the chosen one. The sun shines for you and the birds sing for you. The coffee you are drinking tastes as if the beans were grown on the finest mountainside. Indeed, those very coffee beans seem to have been ground by the mountain's sage themselves. The taste of some specific cookies you are eating brings back old-world memories, even if you happen to be a teenager. You may also notice the unusually appealing blueness of the sky. The mood may even have subtle effects of a different kind, other than influencing how you sense things. You may be presented with an epiphany of sorts, large or small or anywhere in between: "I never realized I'm that generous and talkative when I'm quite happy" or "Being in this mood these past few days has revealed to me subtler layers of social interactions in specific contexts." You might also realize, however, that you cannot brighten and lighten the mood of a certain friend who is in a bad mood. What does this person experience? Well, to her that coffee may seem old and burned, even if it was brewed just ten minutes ago. Those cookies may taste either too sweet or too bland; furthermore, they seem hard. Those birds make too much noise; they are irritating. The sun is too bright and hot; it just burns the concrete and sky. The world does not care for you or anyone--neither do I. Even this person, nevertheless, when focusing on her experiences, is capable of seeing something new: "Until now, I never noticed how much my friend tries to help me when I'm in one of my bad moods" or "This 'lived experience' is exactly what I need to communicate in my writings on Angst." With moods, there is always something distinct about whichever one has grasped us, filled us. It spills over all of our experiences; either they are lightened (e.g. good moods) or burdened (e.g. bad moods). And how these moods affect our experiences is worth considering in detail. As a particularly noteworthy example, we find an appropriate study in the anime referred to in the title.

I propose that being in certain states of mind can reveal or highlight details of our experiences, thus allowing us to reconsider and learn from those states that take hold of us. These states of mind have the ability to shift our attention to both the total experiences and the elements of those experiences, thus allowing us to see how each dynamically interacts with the other. Furthermore, by concentrating on whatever is immediately before us while we are in that state, we can classify or re-sort those particular elements within that experience. Think of it as a kind of reordering of priorities to match the present situation. The total experience itself then takes on a different "feel" after such recategorizations. However, this reordering does not always result in an agreeable state of things. Furthermore, it might even occur without our complete, conscious awareness or assent. It just happens. The difficult task to manage when we are in this condition is to think, act, and react in such a way that, despite the circumstances, we can still gain an insight regarding our conditions. We shall explore such an example of this in the following essay, centered on a specific episode and character. In episode 16, "Busy Doing Nothing (Dead Calm)", of the anime Ergo Proxy, we are presented with a fitting situation to closely explore: the phenomenal character of being bored, and how it affects a certain individual. We will also be examining what we take to be important facets of Re-l's environment and character. By doing so, we will grasp the vast scope of what is involved in a given mood. In the situation we will presently study, we will often ponder a question that shall greatly assist us in our aims: what is it like to be in a certain mood, viz. to be bored? By asking this question and studying it, we hope reveal some of the features involved in being in a given mood, and what this could mean to us.