In 1999, the Magnum photographer Martin Parr published the first volume of “Boring postcards”, bringing together the dullest postcards of 50s, 60s and 70s Britain. In 2000, the second volume appeared, devoted to boring postcards of the USA. In April 2001 there followed, finally, “Langweilige Postkarten (Boring postcards Germany)”. Now, I haven’t actually seen any of these three books, but the descriptions from Amazon’s page indicate that boredom is associated with the depiction of autobahns, airports, hotels, factories, shops, border posts, tower blocks and new towns, and with the era from the 50s to the 90s. Quite a few pages seem to be directed to boring postcards: Most of the items here show modernist houses, public buildings, and roads from Scandinavian towns. This somewhat less ambitious page defines a “boring postcard” as “”one you’d respond to by saying, “Now why would anyone want a postcard of that?””.
Ah well. Professing oneself, or one’s creations, as boring, is perhaps one of the simplest tricks to get attention. It’s playing on the culture industry’s version of the liar’s paradox: once you say you’re boring, noone believes you, because if you really were boring, you wouldn’t admit to it. No, there’s no way to publish a really boring book and advertise it as boring – inevitably, someone will find something of interest in it.
There’s really only one way to deal with boring products, with boring postcards – sincere failure. This page tells the story of a book about boring postcards that never was, and never will be, published. It would have been called “The Yawn”: “The book of boring postcards has now been in production for some twenty years and is only now some 400 pages long. This is mainly because some of the early postcards have now become interesting and have had to be dumped … publication may never happen as it might be too interesting, and mainly because the cover design might make the book far too exciting.”
Now that’s what I call living up to modern life’s complexities.