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Monday, July 7, 2014

Edmundson's "Pay Attention!"

University of Virginia English Professor Mark Edmundson has a smart essay on attention in modern education and life in the Summer 2014 edition of The Hedgehog Review. He writes, "the deep opposite of attention isn’t distraction, but absorption:"
Absorption is what occurs when you immerse yourself in something you love doing. The artist and the poet and the philosopher and the scientist become absorbed. The kind doctor becomes absorbed in her patient; the teacher becomes absorbed in his class presentation. The musician becomes absorbed in the fugue. When that happens, time stops and one lives in an ongoing present. One feels whole and at one with oneself. The little boy drawing with his pad on the floor, tongue sticking out from one side of his mouth, is a picture of absorption. He is not really paying attention. He is being absorbed. What is happiness? W. H. Auden answered the question quite simply: Happiness comes in absorption.
The entire piece is worth reading.

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