Lazy blog day!
To help out your imagination a little, think about top-level winners in the r-selection game: rock stars, billionaire philanthropists, international banksters, or fringe psychology bloggers. At this point in their lives it doesn’t really matter what they do. The numbers keep going up. They could coast on their investments- or not, or blow it all and start from the beginning- as they please.
If you can remember far back enough, I once described ennui in classical conditioning terms as the opposite of despair. Ennui is the feeling that results when good things happen to you no matter how little you try, whereas despair is the feeling that results when bad things happen to you no matter how hard you try. Almost everyone in the world is an empiricist in nature, and when we observe that, given a constant antecedent, all possible behaviors seem to have negative consequences, that antecedent will eventually send us into an energy-saving mode called “depression”. If effort doesn’t matter, then save your energy.
Ennui is slightly different, I think, because depression actually makes sense. But good things continually happening for no reason? Those aren’t the laws of nature I’m familiar with. I think the negative feeling of ennui is existentialist, where the actor begins to doubt that he actually exists. He no longer seems to “act” because his actions have no real consequences, and he has this in common with the despairing person. But the despairing person looks around and says “Well, at least my failure makes sense within the context of the patriarchy/Cathedral/whatever.” But ennui doesn’t allow that reassurance because we know on a basic level that “cake every day for no reason” just isn’t the way the world works. And so one disbelieves in both the world and in one’s own sense of agency.
That’s gotta suck.