How Do We Make Ourselves Alert Again?


From a reader’s discussion to a book I’ve been reading on tour, Orfeo by Richard Powers:

Interviewer: “You mention close listening and focused attention. I found the study that you referenced about our loss of focus to be fascinating and disturbing.”

“When all of us can listen to every piece of music that was ever written, at any time, from anywhere that we want, how can we hear anything?

What happens is we cease becoming adventurers and participants in this grand experiment of art, and we simply become consumers and really good commodity experts. When we have the entire gamut for our consumption, we just go to those things that we like the easiest. And that’s the problem. It’s hard to listen all the way through a three-minute song when we know that with the flick of a finger, we can pull up something that might be slightly better for our current mood.

We live like gods! But very forgetful gods. The question is, How do we make ourselves alert again in the face of all this opulence and richness?

Link: Orfeo by Richard Powers


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