Solitude May Allow “Making Novel Connections Between Far-Flung Ideas”

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Source of book image: http://ffbsccn.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/focus.jpg

(p. 16) What appears to be most at risk is our ability to experience open awareness. Always a rare and elusive form of thinking, it seems to be getting rarer and more elusive. Our modern search-engine culture celebrates information gathering and problem solving — ways of thinking associated with orienting and selective focus — but has little patience for the mind’s reveries. Letting one’s thoughts wander seems frivolous, a waste of practical brainpower. Worse, our infatuation with social media is making it harder to hear the mind’s whispers. Solitude has fallen out of fashion. Even when we’re by ourselves, we’re rarely alone with our thoughts.

In the end, we may come to see the flights and fancies of open awareness as not only dispensable but pathological. Goleman points out that the brain systems associated with creative mind-wandering tend to be “unusually active” in people with attention-deficit disorder. When they appear to be “zoning out,” they may actually be making novel connections between far-flung ideas.

For the full review, see:
NICHOLAS CARR. “Attention Must Be Paid.” The New York Times Book Review (Sun., November 3, 2013): 16.
(Note: the online version of the review has the date November 1, 2013.)

Book under review:
Goleman, Daniel. Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2013.

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