Monday, August 25, 2008

The habit of thoughtlessness

“[D]on’t we all know how relatively easy it has always been to lose at least the habit, if not the faculty of thinking? Nothing more is needed than to live in constant distraction and never leave the company of others.” (Hannah Arendt, The life of the mind, Two p. 80)Thinking, for instance considering what to write in this blog, seems a very natural activity for man. Isn’t it so that we always think automatically? In a certain sense it is true but most of what we call thinking is following the stream of what we already do: The habit of taking care that our daily life runs smooth; reacting on the stimuli that come to us. But if we intentionally want to consider what to do, if we want to deviate from our daily routine, follow new roads, be creative and so on; in short, if we want to stop the stream of automatic thought, we must isolate ourselves from the world around us, from the world that contains so much that can distract us. However, it is easier to follow the stream that carries us along rather than take a moment for a break. It is easier to let other people think for us. It is easier not to oppose even if it might be wrong to give in. Being creative and original, being independent is not the easiest way. Is that the reason that many people have given it up already so long ago?

1 comment:

perdita7 said...

This is a wonderful blog. I think one of the problems with our world today is that so few people allow themselves the periods of prolonged solitude and silence that would promote deep thought. The attention spans of most people are short-lived, and the habit of focus is virtually non-existent.
You are right in saying that we
oft-times allow others to tell us what to think. We allow celebrities to dictate what we wear and what we eat. We consume fast food and cannot go anywhere without our cell phones (thankfully, I don't own one). We've become mentally lazy and intellectually stagnant. And, in the midst of our cerebral sloth, when we are all so wanting to prove that we are individuals, we have actually become a mass of conformists. To be different, to have opinions and views that aren't in keeping with everybody else's, is to be thought of as "eccentric." So few people think for themselves that to do so has become an act of courage, of ultimate bravery.

This brings to mind a quote by e.e.cummings, one of my favorite poets:

"To be nobody--but--yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."

It is time for originality to
come back into fashion. The TVs need to be given to charity and people need to turn off their cell phones. Then they'll be forced to be alone with their thoughts, face to face with their inner selves.

Just my thoughts....