Thursday, April 07, 2011

Some Thoughts, Possibly Related, on Time, Criticism, and the Nature of Consciousness - The Brooklyn Rail:


Thanks, everyone, for coming. You’re all sitting down so nicely for this lecture, which is a lecture in 10 sections—or, more accurately, a rough draft of a lecture, with you all as my test audience. Right now, I need you to do two things. First, I need you to take out your cell phones, and make a decision about whether or not you’re going to turn them off for the duration of this thing, which isn’t really very long. I don’t just mean on silent, which I assume you’ve already done.

Whichever you decide, I’d like you to pay attention, just a little bit of attention, to the ramifications of that decision. If you choose to leave your phone on, I assume that means you feel you have to. I don’t want to mess with the urgency of that feeling, as it’s one I have quite often, or shame you out of it. But I do want you to be aware of it, of what it is doing to your mind as you check incoming messages and zip between the here and the there. In other words, to be aware that, even sitting still, you’re time traveling. And, of course, if you leave it on, keep it on silent.

Likewise, if you decide to turn your phone off, whether as a matter of politeness or with a sense of relief, please pay some attention to that as well. My phone is on right now, because I am going to need it in a minute. And then it will be off, not to make any point to you, but to make one to myself, since I am one of those people who has difficulty turning her phone off but is always somehow calmed when she does.

Please make your decision now. There isn’t a right or a wrong choice here—not from my perspective, at any rate.

[give them a minute to do this]