Monday, March 17, 2008

RECLAIMING MY ATTENTION SPAN (one album at a time)

I have reached my boiling point and have decided to take up arms against an insidious ailment that has taken hold of myself and likely many other people in the early 21st century. I am speaking of course of a condition that can only be described as Culturally Induced Attention Deficit Disorder.

Symptoms of this ailment include excessive channel flipping, skipping over songs on your iPod before they are finished and getting edgy when you have to wait in line for your latte for more than 5 minutes. On a more psychic or spiritual level (and perhaps this is the most tragic incarnation) is the inability to be present in the moment and breath in the beauty that surrounds you. To me this is about getting away from that "flight or fight mode" that puts one in a constantly heightened state dreading what demand may come at you next.

I swear sometimes that my powers of concentration were more enhanced in my younger days, and I often wonder if my condition is the tragic result of living in a cultural milieu characterized by excessive media saturation, rapid fire information overload and the subsequent speeding up of life.

My first line of defense is a simple technique, though not entirely insignificant. To illustrate, as a music fan I have often lamented recently that not many people think of albums anymore when listening to music but think of digital files that you can race through and select on a whim. To counteract this form of ADD inducement I have vowed recently to listen to albums in their entirety and not race through and skip songs.

Of courses it helps to pick quality albums, and I think of this act of embracing an album as a whole entity and listening attentively will assist in helping me tune in to the joy of an overarching narrative and sensory experience, rather than focusing on commodified "singles" that dominate digital media. It also forces me to take time slow down and enjoy the experience of consciously engaging with an album as an end in and of itself, as opposed to it becoming merely background noise. When was the last time you just simply sat and enjoyed music for the sake it?

This is a topic that really interests me, and I am motivated to experiment and engage in various personal forms of mental and physical discipline that will assist with this endeavor. I will be writing on this theme periodically and plan to explore other ways to reclaim and fine tune my attention span .... now excuse me while I flip to a new playlist on my iPod.

(I am actually quite interested in what other folks do to counteract this ailment, so any of your stories or pearls of wisdom will interest me greatly)


Dean Wormer said...

Listening to an album the whole way through is a lost art form. Kids these days just want the mp3 of the specific song they heard on the radio.

One downfall of the digital age since albums were often concieved as an entire experience. I can't imagine listening to Sgt. Pepper's for instance without playing the whole darn thing.

Comrade Kevin said...

I buy used vinyl.

Nothing is quite so annoying as having to lift the arm and guess as to where the bit you want to hear is.

Bryan said...

A well-written post. Agree with you. I didn't know that attention deficit disorder can be cured untill i came across It took me quite some time, but I've finally overcomed it.