The Exigent Duality
Lack of Novelty - 21:13 CST, 9/17/23 (Sniper)
I've done everything. There's nothing left to experience.

I don't mean that literally, of course. I've never bungie jumped off the top of a skyscraper; or flown an F-22 Raptor; or made love to a super model. There are nearly infinite specific things I've never done. But my brain doesn't operate on specifics: it builds patterns. It categorizes each "new" thing, whether a person or an experience, into an archetype. And once I've explored an archetype, I'm completely bored with it and move on to seek a novel one.

Actually, it's worse than bored once I get familiar with something: I get actively annoyed by it. It repulses me. The trappings and motions of it become trite and tedious: grating, like fingernails on a chalkboard. "Oh, there's that door hinge again, as I expected", or "there's that turn-of-phrase again", or "yup, here is the point where I need to re-frame my focus", and so on.

This explains why my childhood and early teenage years were the best of my life: everything was novel. It was like having an infinite feast of the richest, most delicious food imaginable, in what looked at the time like inexhaustible quantities. But ever since I hit roughly forty years of age, every single thing I try is a copycat of some other thing I've already experienced.

For example, take learning to fly an airplane, obtaining a black belt in karate, and getting instruction in tap dancing. For most people those are utterly differentiated things to do. But for me, they are the identical thing: they involve doing research; taking classes; going through the usual motions of building a rapport with an instructor; passing milestones; getting congratulated.

It's all the same archetype. I've already done a dozen or more of those things in my life. The notion of doing yet another one totally bores me. It just sounds exhausting and tedious.

But that's just an example of a single archetype. This sensation applies to everything in life for me, by this point. I've seen and done it all, according to the way my mind processes information and the way I perceive experiences. I keep looking for things which are novel and exciting, and I can't find them anywhere. For each new thing I try, my brain immediately picks up on the archetypal pattern.

"Oh, I thought this would be fun, but it's just this again, with different wallpaper on it."

Even studying new topics sounds boring: I buy a book; grab some paper; read the book, take notes; write blog posts about it, or explain it to my wife who pretends to listen but doesn't actually care. This explains why I keep trying to learn new things, but can't stay interested in any of the subjects. Because the very act of learning a new subject has lost its novelty.

I've had this feeling for quite some time now, but it was only tonight while I was brushing my teeth, of all things, that I was able to capture it, roll it around in my hands, and describe it with words. I should do some research, maybe there is a term for this kind of mental state.

I don't think it's depression: it's not that I don't want to do anything. I'm not sad. In fact, it's the opposite: I desperately want to do something. But... what, exactly? As someone who has always fed off the sustenance of analyzing patterns, I'm starting to run out of patterns to analyze. It's like I'm intellectually starving. It's very strange.