April 20: concentration skirmish

These days we live in close proximity, also often in open-plan spaces and we use machinery that makes noise. This means it is hard to have the single-focus required for difficult activities. When my partner is trying to read The Golden Bowl by Henry James (his last and most notoriously difficult novel) I am listening to 5Live with a discussion of last night’s Bayern Munich Man City match. Fair do’s, I was only getting my own back on the day before when I had been trying to concentrate on reading a 19th Century German novella in German while she was half-watching Gossip Girl on the Iplayer. What happens when I try to do this is that I get the skeleton of the text but it is pretty meatless. All this is the modern phenomenon of being stretched on the rack from one concentrational pole to another. Some things work nicely together, of course. Ironing and watching the News. Writing school reports and watching a Hammer horror film. This taxing of our concentrational capacities should be a modern Olympic sport. It is certainly true that doing just one thing at a time is a luxury we should be encouraging.



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