Guilty

Turning, one evening, from my phone to a book, I set myself the task of reading a single chapter in one sitting. Simple. But I couldn’t. There was nothing wrong with my eyes. No stroke or disease clouded my way. Yet – if I’m being honest – the failure was also not a surprise.

Paragraphs swirled; sentences snapped like twigs; and sentiments bled out. The usual, these days. I drag my vision across the page and process little. Half an hour later, I throw down the book and watch some Netflix…

So, it’s been unnerving to realize: I have forgotten how to read – really read – and I’ve been refusing to talk about it out of pride…

Online life makes me into a different kind of reader – a cynical one. I scrounge, now, for the useful fact; I zero in on the shareable link. My attention – and thus my experience – fractures. Online reading is about clicks, and comments, and points. When I take that mindset and try to apply it to a beaten-up paperback, my mind bucks.

Author Nicholas Carr writes that, “digital technologies are training us to be more conscious of and more antagonistic toward delays of all sorts.” We become, “more intolerant of moments of time that pass without the arrival of new stimuli.” So, I throw down the old book, craving mental Tabasco sauce. And yet not every emotion can be reduced to an emoji, and not every thought can be conveyed via tweet.

~ Michael Harris, “I have forgotten how to read.” For a long time Michael Harris convinced himself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate him from our new media climate – that he could keep on reading in the old way because his mind was formed in pre-internet days. He was wrong.

Read on: “I Have Forgotten How to Read.” (The Globe and Mail, Feb 9, 2018)

 

 

Growing more itchy and agitated by the day

Sven Birkerts

“Sven Birkerts is an anxious man. By turns he is frightened, terrified, alarmed, filled with dread. On one occasion he shudders in his core; mostly he is just plain worried. What concerns him, a concern he is eager to transmit to us, is the rapid spread of computer, Internet and telephone technologies and more specifically what those technologies are doing to our minds. Forever glued to screens of one kind or another, clicking compulsively on the links others provide for us, we are losing the ability to concentrate, growing more itchy and agitated by the day, allowing our consciousness to be fragmented and dispersed.”

~ Tim Parks. Read his full NY Times review of Sven Birkerts new book here: “Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age.”


Amazon’s Book Summary: “After two decades of rampant change, Birkerts has allowed a degree of everyday digital technology into his life. He refuses to use a smartphone, but communicates via e-mail and spends some time reading online. In Changing the Subject, he examines the changes that he observes in himself and others–the distraction when reading on the screen; the loss of personal agency through reliance on GPS and one-stop information resources; an increasing acceptance of “hive” behaviors. “An unprecedented shift is underway,” he argues, and “this transformation is dramatically accelerated and more psychologically formative than any previous technological innovation.” He finds solace in engagement with art, particularly literature, and he brilliantly describes the countering energy available to us through acts of sustained attention, even as he worries that our increasingly mediated existences are not conducive to creativity. It is impossible to read Changing the Subject without coming away with a renewed sense of what is lost by our wholesale acceptance of digital innovation and what is regained when we immerse ourselves in a good book.”

Zigzagging b/w indulgence and denial, frenetic states and cleansing cures, busy selves and better selves

busy-rush-hurry-blur-multi-task-technology

There’s a lot of status anxiety going about these days. People live suspended between the anxiety of being deluged in communication and the agony of receiving none. They have always wanted to be liked, but now they must also be “liked.” They exist under the digital pressure of reciprocal judgment, a state that knows no repose. They are either on top of things, a momentary illusion, or overwhelmed, a permanent state intermittently denied. They look around wondering how it is possible to keep up. They have access to everything and certainty about nothing. They zigzag between indulgence and denial, frenetic states and cleansing cures, their busy selves and their better selves. They have nightmares about getting a thumbs-down. They ask themselves how the Day of Judgment became day-in, day-out judgment. They make resolutions that unravel. They amass to-do lists that cannot get done. They are not sure where they stand on the ratings scales, on the lists that proliferate, on the global grading of everything and everyone.

This state crept up on them. How such unease came about, who willed it and with what design, was not quite clear, but it must, they thought, have something to do with what is called progress. Where it was headed was equally murky but sometimes the destination looked unappealing, a place where peace had been crowded out by the pursuit of efficiencies.

~ Roger Cohen, The Great Unease


Image: themetapicture.com (Thank you Susan)

T.G.I.F.: It’s Been A Long Week

gif-funny-tracks-tgif-t.g.i.f.


Source: Tastefully Offensive

Look at me when I talking to you

read-book-woman-portrait-black-and-white

“I’ve been finding it harder and harder to concentrate on words, sentences, paragraphs. Let alone chapters. Chapters often have page after page of paragraphs. It just seems such an awful lot of words to concentrate on, on their own, without something else happening. […]

When the people at the New Yorker can’t concentrate long enough to listen to a song all the way through, how are books to survive? […]

It makes me feel vaguely dirty, reading my phone with my daughter doing something wonderful right next to me, like I’m sneaking a cigarette. Or a crack pipe. […]

One time I was reading on my phone while my older daughter, the four-year-old, was trying to talk to me. I didn’t quite hear what she had said, and in any case… She grabbed my face in her two hands, pulled me towards her. “Look at me,” she said, “when I’m talking to you.” She is right. I should. […]

Spending time with friends, or family, I often feel a soul-deep throb coming from that perfectly engineered wafer of stainless steel and glass and rare earth metals in my pocket. Touch me. Look at me. You might find something marvelous. […]”

Hugh McGuire, Why Can’t We Read Anymore?

Don’t miss how McGuire changes and his explanation on why books are important.  Full post here.


Photo Source: Choi Moi

They bust you by being grateful for the day

woman-portrait-scar-charcoal-hands-shame

The worst possible thing you can do when you’re down in the dumps, tweaking, vaporous with victimized self-righteousness, or bored, is to take a walk with dying friends. They will ruin everything for you.

First of all, friends like this may not even think of themselves as dying, although they clearly are, according to recent scans and gentle doctors’ reports. But no, they see themselves as fully alive. They are living and doing as much as they can, as well as they can, for as long as they can.

They ruin your multitasking high, the bath of agitation, rumination, and judgment you wallow in, without the decency to come out and just say anything. They bust you by being grateful for the day, while you are obsessed with how thin your lashes have become and how wide your bottom.

~ Anne Lamott, “Prelude: Victory Lap“, Small Victories: Spotting Improbably Moments of Grace


Notes: Quote Source – Brainpickings. Portrait: Kamil Zacharski by Opaqueglitter


 

The Disease of Being Busy

omid-safi

The Disease of Being Busy by Omid Safi, recipient of the 2009 Teaching Award for Professor of the Year at Duke University:

I saw a dear friend a few days ago. I stopped by to ask her how she was doing, how her family was. She looked up, voice lowered, and just whimpered: “I’m so busy… I am so busy… have so much going on.” Almost immediately after, I ran into another friend and asked him how he was. Again, same tone, same response: “I’m just so busy… got so much to do.” The tone was exacerbated, tired, even overwhelmed.

…How did we end up living like this? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to our children? When did we forget that we are human beings, not human doings?

…In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, “How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?” When I ask, “How are you?” that is really what I want to know…

Don’t miss his entire post @ The Disease of Being Busy

or his follow-on post titled: The Thief of Intimacy, Busyness


Image Source: Duke University

 

Driving up I-95. With Gull.

seagull

It was three weeks ago, 6 p.m. and I’m on my evening commute home. I-95 is snarled in both directions. Heavy, slow-moving metal edging its way up, a car length at a time. I’m looking ahead to find a break. I see none. Waze flashes an update: “Your drive time is extended by 10 minutes. Accident ahead.”

But that’s not the story. No. That’s not what drifts in during my 7-mile run on Sunday. It’s not what emerges during a meeting late Monday afternoon. And it’s not what’s hanging around the edges, gently finding its place among the mental chatter of Work.

It’s a white speck 75 car lengths ahead, hovering a steady five feet above the sea of car tops.  A white speck, moving against traffic. First the speck. Then Wings. Then the gull.

The bird’s line is a straight shot.

Seagulls that I know, float in wind tunnels, they surf, they lallygag on shorelines. Not this one. This Gull’s wings are flapping, beating fiercely and maintaining the rhythm of an Olympic rowing crew free of its coxswain:  I need to get there. Quickly. I need to get there. Now.

It’s 15 car lengths now. The bird is keeping its line, passing under a bridge without interruption. Jet Gull – – at low altitude and maintaining flight speed. I’m locked in.

I bend my head to see him. He doesn’t look down, or around or even shift his glance. Focus. Hurry. Get there. Now.

Blink. He’s in my rear view mirror. Gull. Wings. A Speck. Gone.

My gaze turns back to the sea of cars in front of me. Gull, where are you going? Why the Rush?

Its 4am. Today, Hump Day.  Weeks later. I’m flicking through my Reader and I come across This.

A seagull froze, motionless, in the sky – lost in thought. Then suddenly it remembered something important, perhaps that life is as short as a blink, and went dashing off a full pelt.

Mikhail Shishkin, from The Light and the Dark

Synchronicity? Coincidence? Serendipity?

Hmmmmmm.


Notes:

Riding Metro North. With Massenet.

42nd-new-york-city

I’m on the first train. I’m with my commuters deep into the morning papers. The silence is broken for three short intervals – the conductor collecting tickets and two stops on the Express. Otherwise, a library. 55 minutes of heaven.

Yet, the silence is thundering.

EBOLA. Mid-term elections. School shootings. Shooting rampage in the Canadian Parliament. Ukraine. Work-budget-goals. Man attacks NYC cops with a hatchet. Markets tumbling. Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Hong Kong protesters. Millions of air bag recalls. Stepfather Charged After 3-Year-Old Girl Beaten to Death at Brooklyn Shelter. OMG. Turn the page. Turn the page. Turn the page. Unable to find something Good, I put away the news, close my eyes, lean my head against the window and drift into Grand Central.

I twist in my ear buds, first right and then left. I exit the train to 42nd street with hundreds of early morning commuters.

Zibby introduces Jesse to classical music in Liberal Arts; DK had no such Muse. Yet, the impact is no less Divine. The biting winds of darkness and doubt whistling through the skull are placed on Pause. My 12-minute cross-town walk is filled with ethereal beauty, a peace, a calmness, a lightness. The delivery trucks. The yellow cabs, honey bees buzzing in and out. The shop owner opening the gate. A construction worker taking a long pull on his cigarette. A student sipping coffee in an empty Diner. The leaves on a lonely tree rustling from the gust of a passing bus. All of it, a symphony. [Read more…]

Morning Bell: Let’s Roll

social media,technology,


Source: oamul.com

%d bloggers like this: