Certain kinds of attention

A god can create a world only by listening.*
(James Carse)

To be a moral human being is to pay, be obliged to pay, certain kinds of attention.**
(Susan Sontag)

Whilst offering examples of people with “skin in the game,” Nassim Taleb tells of an encounter with Susan Sontag in 2001, in which her initial interest in meeting someone who “studies randomness.” On finding out that Taleb was a trader Sontag then announced being “against the market system,” and turned her back on Taleb whilst he was in mid-sentence.^

It turns out we all struggle to listen to people who are not like us.

It’s hard but it’s worth it for the kind of worlds we are able to create together.

(*From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(**Susan Sontag, quoted in Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings: Existential Therapy from the Universe.)
(^Nassim Taleb hopes waiting fifteen or so years after the death of Susan Sontag before telling this story is more respectful.)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.