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Attention, Distraction and Curiosity in the Age of Digital Mediarchy with Yves Citton

The dominant discourse about a “crisis of attention” depicts the new generations as scatterbrains doomed to evaporate in pathological distraction. There certainly are good reasons for most of us to feel overwhelmed by an excess of solicitations. In its current path of development, the capitalist mediarchy generates ecocidal and egocidal conditions of ubiquitous competition which dramatically drain our attentional resources. As much as a return to the practice of “deep attention”, however, we need to better understand the limits of the current discourses calling for a greater attentional focus. We may just as well need to be “better distracted” than “more attentive”. We may need to reconceive schools, universities, art centers and political movements as “Laboratories of Curiosity” in order to eschew the double dangers of, on one hand, mediarchical Weapons of Mass Distraction and, on the other hand, neo-moralistic Crusades of Disciplined Attention. 

Yves Citton is professor of French Literature at the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis (since 2017). He previously taught at the University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA (1992-2003) and at the Université Grenoble Alpes (2003-2017). He is co-editor of the journal Multitudes. He recently published Médiarchie (Paris, Seuil, 2017, to be translated into English and published as Mediarchy by Polity Press, 2019), The Ecology of Attention (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2016), Gestes d’humanités. Anthropologie sauvage de nos expériences esthétiques (2012), Renverser l’insoutenable (2012), Zazirocratie (2011), L’Avenir des Humanités (2010), Mythocratie (2010)

Please note that Yves Citton will also be also speaking in Madison on April 19.