Best Of The Web
“Nearly two years ago, the artist and academic Jenny Odell gave a keynote address on “how to do nothing”. In it she talked about the impact of modern life’s ceaseless demands on our time and attention, “a situation where every waking moment has become pertinent to our making a living”. And she discussed how she herself had found respite in nature.
Her talk was written for the Eyeo festival in Minneapolis – described as for the “creative technology community” and attended by the kind of blue-sky thinkers unlikely to balk at references to concepts like “observational eros”. Yet, when the 10,000-word transcript was published online, it went viral. Not only that: many people read it to the end.
“It was really a surprise that it resonated with people outside of that pretty specific context, and that people would have the patience to read something that’s 45 minutes long, online,” says Odell, by phone from her home in Oakland, California. “I’ve gotten a lot of responses from people saying things like, ‘you’ve put words to a feeling that I’ve had for a long time’.”
That a lengthy online treatise about shattered attention spans should manage to hold so many of them is ironic, it reflects wider concern. Odell writes of feeling compelled to seek refuge in her local rose garden in the days after Donald Trump became president, “like a deer going to a salt lick”: “It really did feel necessary, like a survival tactic.””
JJ Editor's Picks
"The top brass of China’s Communist Party (CCP) – its 370-strong Central Committee – recently emerged from the Fourth Plenum of the 2017 Party Congress. Such meetings, usually one a year, are key forums for policy discussion. At the previous..."
"Mayor Pete is having his moment — for the second time in the campaign. Surging to the head of the pack in a recent Iowa poll, and edging out Vice President Joe Biden in last quarter's money race, Buttigieg is staking his claim to being the..."
"careful reading of Walden; or, Life in the Woods makes it clear that Thoreau never intended his cabin to be a solitary hermitage, although fans and detractors alike often misunderstand this. It was more an author’s workshop than a fortress of..."
"In the fall of 2015, a rash of posters appeared around Copenhagen. One, in pink letters laid over an image of chicken eggs, asked, “Have you counted your eggs today?” A second — a blue-tinted close-up of human sperm — inquired, “Do they swim too..."
"While there’s plenty of disagreement about how the money should be used, almost everyone involved in public-policy debates agrees that it would be good if the federal government could collect more revenue without raising tax rates or reducing..."
"On a brisk November night, a solitary man wandered around the plaza outside the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts on the edge of downtown. He had just flown alone from New York to see his favorite comic, Louis C.K., and he had an extra..."
"Judaism has been described as many things: a culture, a people, a religion, a nationality, and more (including, according to answers given to the 2013 Pew survey of American Jews, a culinary disposition for bagels and smoked salmon or the..."
"US sex education is decades behind other countries. Right now, it isn’t even mandatory in every state. Add to that the awkwardness people feel about sex and bodies in general, top it with the idea of having to have these discussions in public..."