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Allan Lasser

back in the saddle

How to Do Nothing

It’s not just that living in a constant state of distraction is unpleasant, Or that a life without willful thought and action is an impoverished one. If it’s true that collective agency both mirrors and relies on the individual capacity to “pay attention,” then in a time that demands action, distraction appears to be (at the level of the collective) a life-and-death matter. A social body that can’t concentrate or communicate with itself is like a person who can’t think and act.

The book was published in 2019 and this is one argument where it already shows its age. Not that it’s wrong about any of this, but new evidence needs considering. I’d be very interested to see this argument compared to the BLM protests in 2020. Both for the capacity for ideas and anger to mobilize, as well as the distractions that removed some of its ability to build a sustained movement.