The ability to attend to our environment, to our own feelings, and to those of others is a naturally evolved feature of the human brain. Attention is a finite commodity, and it is absolutely essential to living a good life. We need attention in order to truly listen to others - and even to ourselves. We need attention to truly enjoy sensory pleasures, as well as for efficient learning. We need it in order to be truly present during sex or to be in love or when we are simply contemplating nature. Our brains can generate only a limited amount of this precious resource every day.

Today, the advertisement and entertainment industries are attacking the very foundations of our capacity for experience, drawing us into the vast and confusing media jungle. They are trying to rob us of as much of our scarce resource as possible, and they are doing so in every more persistent and intelligent ways. Of course, they are increasingly making use of the new insights in the human mind offered by cognitive and brain science to achieve their goals (“neuromarketing” is one of the ugly new buzzwords). We can see the probable result in the epidemic of attention-deficit disorder in children and young adults, in midlife burnout, in rising levels of anxiety in large parts of the population. If I am right that consciousness is the space of attentional agency, and if (as discussed in chapter 4) it is also true that the experience of controlling and sustaining your focus of attention is one of the deeper layers of phenomenal selfhood, then we are currently witnessing not only an organized attack on the speace of consciousness per se but a mild form of depersonalization. New medial environments may create a new form of waking consciousness that resembles weakly subjective states - a mixture of dreaming, dementia, intoxication, and infantilization.

Thomas Metzinger, The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self

Silence, however, is a useful statement only if someone, somewhere, expects your voice to be loud. Silence in the 1990s seemed only to guarantee that I would be alone. And eventually it dawned on me that the despair I felt about the novel was less the result of my obsolescence than of my isolation. Depression presents itself as a realism regarding the rottenness of the world in general and the rottenness of your life in particular. But the realism is merely a mask for depression’s actual essence, which is an overwhelming estrangement from humanity. The more persuaded you are of your unique access to the rottenness, the more afraid you become of engaging with the world; and the less you engage with the world, the more perfidiously happy-faced the rest of humanity seems for continuing to engage with it.

Jonathan Franzen, How to Be Alone (via naranzarian)

(via naranzarian)

In his brilliant lecture entitled “The Theory and Function of Duende” Federico García Lorca attempts to shed some light on the eerie and inexplicable sadness that lives in the heart of certain works of art. “All that has dark sound has duende”, he says, “that mysterious power that everyone feels but no philosopher can explain.” In contemporary rock music, the area in which I operate, music seems less inclined to have its soul, restless and quivering, the sadness that Lorca talks about. Excitement, often; anger, sometimes: but true sadness, rarely, Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically in it. It pursues Van Morrison like a black dog and though he tries to he cannot escape it. Tom Waits and Neil Young can summon it. It haunts Polly Harvey. My friends the Dirty Three have it by the bucket load. The band Spiritualized are excited by it. Tindersticks desperately want it, but all in all it would appear that duende is too fragile to survive the brutality of technology and the ever increasing acceleration of the music industry. Perhaps there is just no money in sadness, no dollars in duende. Sadness or duende needs space to breathe. Melancholy hates haste and floats in silence. It must be handled with care.”

All love songs must contain duende. For the love song is never truly happy. It must first embrace the potential for pain. Those songs that speak of love without having within in their lines an ache or a sigh are not love songs at all but rather Hate Songs disguised as love songs, and are not to be trusted. These songs deny us our humanness and our God-given right to be sad and the air-waves are littered with them. The love song must resonate with the susurration of sorrow, the tintinnabulation of grief. The writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart will never be able to write convincingly about the wonder, the magic and the joy of love for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil - the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here - so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement of its capacity for suffering.

Nick Cave  (via fevereddream)

(via fevereddream)

The happiest people are those who like children live for the day, drag their dolls around dressing and undressing them, and cautiously slink around the drawer where Mama has locked up the sweet cakes, and when they finally get their hands on what they want stuff their cheeks with it and shout ‘More!’ - Those are happy creatures. Those too are happy who give showy titles to their rag-and-bone grubbing or even to their passions, and tout them to mankind as stupendous operations for its welfare and salvation. - Happy he who can be like that! But whoever recognizes in his humility where it all ends, whoever sees how nicely every comfortable citizen knows how to trim his little garden into a paradise, and yet sees too how the unfortunate person groans along on his path undaunted under his burden, and all are equally interested in seeing the light of this sun for just one minute longer - yes, he is quiet and forms his world out of himself and is also happy because he is a human being. And then, hemmed in as he is, he still always holds in his heart the sweet feeling of freedom, and that he can quit this prison whenever he likes.

Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther

Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however much later, it is finally happening to you: you’re falling to the floor crying thinking, “I am falling to the floor crying,” but there’s an element of the ridiculous to it — you knew it would happen and, even worse, while you’re on the floor crying you look at the place where the wall meets the floor and you realize you didn’t paint it very well.

Richard Siken (via 1112pm)

(via dreaming-my-future)