The following post is the summary after reading the article, 'Attention is the beginning of Devotion, by Franklin Foer. (extract the important sentences to internalize.)
Attention Is the Beginning of Devotion:
The late poet Mary Oliver warned against looking without noticing. In an age of distraction, her work is more urgent than ever.
By Franklin Foer
Her books had tumbled into my arms at the right moment. Her collected works her amount to an instruction manual for how to focus the gaze. The exhortations that filled her poems she became my command: “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
In the age of surveillance capitalism, the biggest corporations are turning away and profiting from the vulnerability of their minds. Even on a silent phone, it lights up with a notification that prevents eye contact and disrupts your concentration. YouTube plays videos in infinite loops that are queued based on intimate data, so the emotional rush of one clip triggers the urge to watch the next one. As the ultimate manipulator, Facebook intends to keep it on the site for as long as possible, arranging information to take advantage of a user's mental weakness. Even before you rub your eyes or reach over the bed to wake your spouse, your hands reach the phone when you are awake.
Note: At a time when commercialism and organized narcissism are becoming major trends, Mary Oliver's poems look a bit old-fashioned. However, her poems are rather fresh and raise another alarm in an era when the inside is increasingly empty. What the hell should we focus on more?
Her final collection of essays was called Upstream. In her title piece, she remembers breaking up with her parents in the woods for a walk along a creek. But what she recalls is not the trauma of losing her way, but the attention she has achieved in moments of solitude, "a sense of moving towards the source." In her narration, this is the very moment she started her long career as an announcer. What she sees is not an undifferentiated mass of forest or an abstraction of 'nature'. Her revelation is the pluralism of the forest. “One tree is like another, but not too many. One tulip is like the next, but not completely.” Her discovery of “harmony and discord in the natural world” fills her with her ecstatic joy. "Doesn't anyone in the world want to / get up in the middle of the night / sing / anymore?"
The piece actually ends with a sentence that implants itself in the brain because it's so far away from the way we live. "Attention is the beginning of devotion." And of course it is. A person who does not stand out cannot be loved. Some critics liked to accuse Oliver of being unsophisticated. But her simplicity was a naked display of spirits. Dilate argued, because there is a world outside of us worth clinging to and the alternatives are numbness and narcissism.
Because Oliver stared hard at mortality, her field of vision had come to extend beyond personal anguish—past the abuse she suffered as a child and past all other earthly struggles—to a place of overwhelming gratitude. “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement. / I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms
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Myungja Anna Koh