Other excerpts from Erich Fromm, no comment of mine is necessary, but suffice to say I've felt guilty ever since reading all this whenever I haven't been able to do things with concentration.
"That concentration is a necessary condition for the mastery of an art is hardly necessary to prove. Anyone who ever tried to learn an art knows this. Yet, even more than self-discipline, concentration is rare in our culture. On the contrary, our culture leads to an unconcentrated and diffused mode of life, hardly paralleled anywhere else. You do many things at once; you read, listen to the radio, talk, smoke, eat, drink. You are the consumer with the open mouth, eager and ready to swallow everything--pictures, liquor, knowledge. This lack of concentration is clearly shown in our difficulty in being alone with ourselves. To sit still, without talking, smoking, reading, drinking, is impossible for most people. They become nervous and figety, and must do something with their mouth or their hands. (Smoking is one of the symptoms of this lack of concentration; it occupies hand, mouth, eye and nose.)"
"To be concentrated in relation to others means primarily to be able to listen. Most people listen to others, or even give advice, without really listening. They do not take the other person's talk seriously, they do not take their own answers seriously either. As a result, the talk makes them tired. They are under the illusion that they would be even more tired if they listened with concentration. But the opposite is true. Any activity, if done in a concentrated fashion, makes one more awake (although afterward natural and beneficial tiredness sets in), while every unconcentrated activity makes one sleepy--while at the same time it makes it difficult to fall asleep at the end of the day."
“All our machines are designed for quickness; the car and aeroplane bring us quickly to our destination – and the quicker the better. The machine which can produce the same quantity in half the time is twice as good as the older and slower one. Of course, there are important economic reasons for this. But, as in so many other aspects, human values have become determined by economic values. What is good for machines must be good for man – so the logic goes. Modern man thinks he loses something – time – when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains – except kill it.”
It's amazingly true
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