As Simone Weil—perhaps the strangest and most unlikely Thoreauvian solitary, outcast, and transcendentalist of all—wrote, echoing Thoreau's sense of awareness: "The authentic and pure values—truth, beauty, and goodness—in the activity of a human being are the result of one and the same act, a certain application of the full attention to the object." Or, more tersely yet: "Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer."
It is perhaps the saddest, most hopeless thing we can say about our culture that it is a culture of distraction. "Attention deficit" is a cultural disorder, a debasement of spirit, before it is an ailment in our children to be treated with Ritalin.
"The spirit of disobedience: an invitation to resistance"