It’s hard, now, to be with someone else wholly, uninterruptedly, and it’s hard to be truly alone. The fine art of doing nothing in particular, also known as thinking, or musing, or introspection, or simply moments of being, was part of what happened when you walked from here to there alone, or stared out the train window, or contemplated the road, but the new technologies have flooded those open spaces. Space for free thought is routinely regarded as a void, and filled up with sounds and distractions.
Rebecca Solnit · Diary: In the Day of the Postman · LRB 29 August 2013
I feel you on this Mike. On the other hand there’s something to be said for entertaining ones self when bored instead of relying on “distractions”. When I spend time in my studio I try to cultivate the space this writer is referring to…a place where I entertain myself, where my procrastination can be harnessed. Sure, she’s making technology the whipping boy…but it might be useful to think about cultivating these spaces for free thought outside of the internet and outside of computational networks too.
I know it may feel like stubbing your toe when reading this (if not hyperbolic death) , but there are useful ideas here too. Have you read Barthes essay on Boredom? It’s my favorite essay of his.
Oh totally! I am 100% on board the “boredom is important” train. In fact, if there were–in real life–something called the “Boredom Train” where you were not allowed to do anything other than look out the window while traveling from pt A to pt B, I would gladly buy a ticket and ride it and have an awesome time.
It is when the problem is stated as technology itself “[flooding] those open spaces” that I start to get red in the face. Technology does not flood anything, people do the flooding… or maybe, rather, people drive themselves to the flood zone and then say OMG THERE IS WATER EVERYWHERE THIS IS FUCKED UP. I am totally and completely in agreement with the fact that constant stimulation and distraction is not helpful or good but 1) that just like, my opinion, man 2) I question the degree to which it actually happens and 3) no one puts a mobile phone or ipad in anyone’s hand, a gun to their head, and says “pay surface level attention to 100 things instead of in-depth attention to 1 thing”.