The resonance with the theme of boredom is made abundantly clear when Fogle remembers how "Jimmy Carter was ridiculed for calling [the state America was in a] 'malaise' and telling the nation to snap out of it" (223).
It is precisely this boredom as cultural "malaise" that leaves people desperate for stimulation in the form of ever-newer products and images, and makes them more susceptible to going along with the cash flow, so to speak.
So it was that the character of "President Reagan," performed so well by former actor Ronald Reagan, projected a seemingly unifying, but ultimately obscuring, image over a fractured, postindustrial America--and an image that nonetheless fed off the nihilistic boredom and "rebellion" of the burnt-out 1970s.
In using the IRS as representative of neoliberalism in general, The Pale King is able to connect neoliberalism back to boredom in an illuminating way.
While boredom in Infinite Jest leads almost exclusively to existential terror, addiction, and solipsism, the expanded notion of boredom in The Pale King holds out the possibility that boredom can lead to something positive, perhaps even constructive, even if it has been one of the underlying conditions for the neoliberal revolution.
The hope that boredom can be converted into something productive is entangled with the novel's preoccupation with concentration.
But while these descriptions evoke the idea of being bored, and mark it out as an unambiguously unwelcome experience, the dominant affective mode through which the videos perform boredom is anything but dull and listless.
In the first of her boredom videos, Meg's description of boredom is interrupted mid-flow by an extra-diegetic intervention in the form of a text pane (with accompanying harp music), which is inserted while the video is momentarily paused, to inform viewers that Meg is 'going through a face sticker obsession, so if you're wondering what is under neath [sic] my eyes they're stickers okay thanks bye!'.
Even while Meg is rehearsing what it feels like to be bored, this performance of boredom's downbeat, killjoy affectivity is interrupted in favour of a (celestially-inflected) extradiegetic commentary from a present tense in which boredom has already been successfully displaced.
However, this strategy of dividing the temporality of boredom into shorter and shorter micro-temporal circuits, which can be endlessly re-ordered and refreshed, also comes with a catch: while these videos send out the reassuring message that boredom can always be evaded through lists, they also imply that, once the video ends, boredom might return.
If these videos succeed in their aim of converting bored viewers into swarms of what we might call digital 'unbored'--a term whose association with the undead usefully describes a state of being bored and incapable of feeling bored at the same time--they do so through a promise that they can protect viewers from the negative affectivity of boredom, by re-directing its obstructed agency and suspended temporality outward, dissipating it into the short-term circuits of networked participation.
By framing these gestures as both quick and effortless, the video frames boredom within an explicitly networked attention and affect economy, in which reflex action is privileged over deliberation.