— Cultural Sources of Newness

Cultivating the art of distraction

Another weekend of article-writing draws to an end, and before closing the computer a quick twitter check pointed me to an article a friend (thank you Gio!) had just read in the New York Times—“The Art of Distraction”. Somehow I leave so little time in my week right now, including the weekends, to get distracted, why not read about it? The article is by a novelist I have enjoyed, Hanif Kureishi. After discussing the problem with Ritalin in society today, he captures the essence of his argument well in the last paragraph:

“There might be more to our distractions than we realized we knew. We might need to be irresponsible. But to follow a distraction requires independence and disobedience; there will be anxiety in not completing something, in looking away, or in not looking where others prefer you to. This may be why most art is either collaborative — the cinema, pop, theater, opera — or is made by individual artists supporting one another in various forms of loose arrangement, where people might find the solidarity and backing they need.”

What if we academics learned from theses kinds of artists and rediscovered how to cultivate the art of distraction rather than refining the art of working through the weekend?

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