I finally found the time to finish Damon Young‘s Distraction – a book I picked-up at the opening of the School of Life in Melbourne. What a brilliant read. It’s a look at the lives of a mix of philosophers, artists and thinkers through the lens of focus. In short, the opposite of a life of distraction is one of authentic freedom – and that is acheived by focus. Thought-provoking and clever.
For all its warmth and accessibility, Distraction, is by no means a ‘soft’ read. It is scathing about a distracted mind, ‘a clumsy, fumbling guide’ that often leads us ‘to seek asylum in false consolation, delusion or ubiquitous noise’. It has a lot to say about the world of work, dominated not by ‘information economy’ but ‘attention economy’, in which what looks like cutting-edge employment ‘turns out to be busywork’. Its sharp discussion of forms of governance and of our shared civic sphere is fuelled by Young’s profound disappointment with what it means to be political. Above all, it is insistent that we commit ourselves to shunning borrowed or half-baked lives, that, no matter how powerful the fears and the temptations, we retreat neither from ourselves nor from the world that we inhabit.