No Time to Think
Originally posted at onthecommons.org
One of the more pernicious enclosures of the commons is the enclosure of time and consciousness. It’s pernicious because it is so subtle and rarely discerned. When commercial values such as productivity and efficiency become so pervasive and internalized, they crowd out other ways of being. Our very sense of humanity — full-bodied, spontaneous, spiritual — leaches away.
All of this was brought home clearly in a provocative lecture that I attended yesterday evening. It was called “No Time to Think,” by David M. Levy, a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington. Levy gave a chilling historical overview of how American society has become enslaved to an ethic of “more-better-faster” and is losing touch with the capacity for reflection and intuitive thinking. In an overweening commitment to constant doing and making, analyzing and thinking (which, let us note, are important human activities), we can too easily close off access to an entire realm of consciousness that is at least as important, our capacity for reflection.
Levy’s research is focused on why the technological devices that are designed to connect us also seem to radically dis-connect us. As Levy puts it, “We now have the most remarkable tools for teaching and learning the world has ever known. How is it that we have less time to think than ever before?” Although our society supposedly prizes creative thought, it in fact gives little respect to the intuitive and the contemplative.