How often do you try and fail to remember a name? And suddenly, just when you stop thinking about it and allow your attention to wander elsewhere, your mind relaxes and recollects the name. Distraction has been disparaged by a centuries-long cultural tradition – involving Augustine, Pascal and Heidegger, among others – which has emphasised the importance of reflection and concentration. Yet distraction is a key component of our psychic life. This book highlights distraction’s role as a creative and revolutionary approach to life, thought and writing, but also as a distinctive perspective leading to alternative forms of experience.
Alessandra Aloisi teaches French Literature at the University of Oxford.