Why attention?

The title of the blog is a quote from Aldous Huxley's Island (1962). In the book, a man is shipwrecked on the fictional island of Pala, where he encounters myna birds that have been trained, as a public service, to call out 'here and now' and 'attention'. 
“Why does [the myna] say those things?”
“Because somebody taught him,” she answered patiently. What an ass! Her tone seemed to imply.
“But why did they teach him those things? Why ‘Attention’? Why ‘Here and now’?”
“Well…” She searched for the right words in which to explain the self-evident to this strange imbecile. “That’s what you always forget, isn’t it? I mean, you forget to pay attention to what’s happening. And that’s the same as not being here and now”
“And the mynahs fly about reminding you—is that it?”
She nodded. That, of course, was it.”
And later on,
“Attention,” the [myna] was calling. “Attention.”
“Attention to what?” he asked, in the hope of eliciting a more enlightening answer than the one he had received from Mary Sorojini
“To attention,” said Dr. MacPhail.
“Attention to attention?”
“Of course.”
I chose this as I think attention is important: attention in terms of our global priorities and where humanity focuses its resources; and attention to our own thoughts and cognitive processes - how we ruminate and conceive of things which ultimately shapes our own minds and experiences of the world.

No comments:

Post a comment

What is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint?

In a 2017 paper in Environmental Research Letters , the authors compare popular advice around reducing individual contributions to climate ...