Over the last several years, the problem of attention has migrated right into the center of our cultural attention. Everyone still pays some form of attention all the time, of course—it’s basically impossible for humans not to—but the currency in which we pay it, and the goods we get in exchange, have changed dramatically.
Information rains down faster and thicker every day, and there are plenty of non-moronic reasons for it to do so. The question, now, is how successfully we can adapt.
Marcel Proust's famous tea-soaked madeleine is a kind of hyperlink: a little blip that launches an associative cascade of a million other subjects. This sort of free-associative wandering is essential to the creative process; one moment of judicious unmindfulness can inspire thousands of hours of mindfulness.
People aren’t aware what’s happening to their mental processes, in the same way that people years ago couldn’t look into their lungs and see the residual deposits.
The damage will take decades to understand, let alone fix.
Even as a kid, I enjoyed focusing. I took a lot of pleasure in concentrating on things. You can’t be happy all the time, but you can pretty much focus all the time. That’s about as good as it gets.
Molly Young on Adderall:
It is the Las Vegas of pills, an object that conforms so gleefully to every pill cliché that taking it feels cinematic.
When I get to the point where I’m seeking advice twelve hours a day on how to take a nap, or what kind of notebook to buy, I’m so far off the idea of lifehacks that it’s indistinguishable from where we started. There are a lot of people out there that find this a very sticky idea, and there’s very little advice right now to tell them that the only thing to do is action, and everything else is horseshit.
We are most human when we feel dull. Lolling around in a state of restlessness is one of life's greatest luxuries.
Continuous partial attention is neither good nor bad, it just is.