Boggled? Puzzled? Confused? Read this page first: Philosophy, Etc.
VOICES OF THE DIALOGUE
X0R, being the narrator and recorder of the dialogue, with NOGGAMEMNON, who rests atop the shoulders and can gaze upon the path, and both LINKS and PLODICUS, being brothers, opposite but equal whose view is naught but closer to grounded. Herein, a dialogue between the voices on the merits or weaknesses of focus, attention, and diversion.
A dog barks from behind a fence and in the ethereal winter’s pale light, washed evenly across the brisk morning landscape, the dusting of the previous evenings snow-fall hints at a textured layer of ice slicking the asphalt below. The air moves in intermittent gusts of swirling chill, dashing the remnant flakes into a cold fury that rustles the bare branches of a nearby copse in a coloratura-flora of suburban sound. And from the shuffle and crunch of rubber soles upon the path a question breaks the harmonies of the run.
SCENE: Glavering Upon a Colloquy of Distraction
LINKS : Does our game strike your fancy on this cool morning or would the view of this rare daylight adventure lure your focus towards the sights and sounds of an illuminated landscape? How is it then, friend Noggamemnon? Have you considered the questions posed upon our moonlit jaunt now a few days past?
NOGGAMEMNON : I have. And such I am ready. Go on with it then. I await your enlightenment.
LINKS : As simply as that then, you suppose? I am not an instructor, let me first assert. This is a discussion leading us down an unmapped trail, dear Nog. Be at least clear upon that point.
NOGGAMEMNON : I merely imply that your lead is invaluable here. Take no offence upon your soles, friends. In fact, if boldness on my part is what you were hoping for let me then suggest that the pondering that has flexed my neurons these last lingering days has plodded upon the course of those self-same ideas for which we had proved wanting for discussion, namely the distraction and dis-focus of the mind.
PLODICUS : You mean to tell us that plugging your ears with the gnashing beat of electronic-powered music was supposedly, what? Research? Bah!
LINKS: What my brother means to say…
NOGGAMEMNON : I know what he means and I don’t contest, actually. It was exactly that.
NOGGAMEMNON : Listen or listening. We mean to chat eloquent on the ideas of wavering attention so what better form should that take than practical experience? It is my own such that for more than a generation and since the advent of portable electronics that those swift of foot and even-pacing have — as you say — plugged their ears with a distraction of the audio form. Music? Yes. Narrative yammering? Most likely. I would assure you this is not an anomaly.
X0R : Excuse my interruption. I don’t mean to take sides, but alas, here would concur. It seems from my own observations that there exists a small but significant commercial industry devoted to the manufacture of audio toys and accessories, which if I’m not mistaken are specifically designed and marketed to be carried and used discretely and efficiently while running.
PLODICUS : Eye-pawd? Bloo-too-dental-mumble-mumble…
LINKS: Hush, brother. Yes… fine then, Nog, your point is granted. I will admit that I too have noticed such toys dangling and adorning the ears of your fellow jog-abouts, and I suppose it worthy that our discussion blossom from such a starting point. That said, their existence does neither automatically presume nor positively assert their value. What have you to say there?
NOGGAMEMNON : Fair enough.
LINKS : My own point being — asserted, in fact — is that I question the value of distraction. I do not abide that distraction is necessary or necessarily a gainful state of engagement on the course.
NOGGAMEMNON : For you two… or for me?
LINKS : Equality or equity? What is the difference?
NOGGAMEMNON : Ah. Well, then here is the true rub of the question. Value of anything most probably, surely, looms large in equation of fulfilment of purpose, correct? I will gladly admit that your own role is more profoundingly and poundingly physical than my own. You step lively upon the path and are wont for even a moment of reprieve from the pace. A misstep or a wrong-footed break from the rhythm of the run would surely trip the progress that on a day such as this, for example, would land innocent X0R upon the ground and plant me snout-first into a snow-bank. My purpose, on the other hand, is far more one of tactical observation. I view the trail from a loftier vantage, a point upon which you’ve made no qualms about jostling, but a vantage that serves precisely the purpose for which it was evolved. That is to say, I see the trail while you trod it.
LINKS : And to your distraction? Your habits of waning attentions?
NOGGAMEMNON : Is that your perception?
PLODICUS : You don’t pay it. We do.
NOGGAMEMNON : Oh, but I do pay it. I pay my attentions full heed, or at least when and how they are required.
LINKS : Tell us.
NOGGAMEMNON : Listen friends, for this could be the pivot on which my points are likely to turn your hearts. Let’s talk first of the very notion of focus and attention. I ask you now this: what is it that you consider to be an affirmation of my focus upon the material reality that would balance the equitable realization of my due unto the trail? By that, let me ask you more plainly why you feel so cheated by my inevitable push to avert my attentiveness towards the immaterial?
PLODICUS : ‘Cause it isn’t fair.
LINKS : Nor really balanced. As you said yourself just then, perhaps it is only that we wont of a desire for reprieve and the more casual notion towards this effort as seemingly befits you. Again I tell you, I question the value of distraction. We work, while you play.
NOGGAMEMNON : Then your assumptions are incorrect. Plain wrong, in fact I say. Think now about focus and what it means to your goodly selves pattering in rhythm along a snow-laden trail. Each step is an affirmation of your job, no? Each step a operation of mechanical action that is a physical manifestation of X0R’s movement along real trajectories and vectors parallel to the ground. Decisions are made in a moment and the impact of impact is felt as a shivering shock and within an instant of rebounding energy with barely a moment to consider and process the result before a repeat is required.
LINKS : It is our lot.
NOGGAMEMNON : True. I give nod to your efforts. I nod because my own efforts are stretched along a parallel course but drawn upon much longer, lingering intervals. On occasion I get recompense for my patience, but often I cannot know the success of my decisions for much longer. Each operation of tactical decisiveness may result in an impact that can last in time-spans from mere seconds to bountiful minutes of airy decisions, and this can take it’s toll to be sure.
LINKS : Let me paraphrase your claim such that my dimwitted brother might continue to follow your convoluted conjecture. Is it so simple to claim that because we are so routinely and regularly affirmed by the step-by-step patter of soles on asphalt but that the rebuttal of your own decisions is locked out of step with their consequence, that you are more entitled to distraction?
PLODICUS : That isn’t fair, is it?
NOGGAMEMNON : You are drawing your own conclusions from my position. We are here to discuss the value of distraction not the entitlement of it to any one party, my friends. Let’s not forget the purpose of our discussion, after all. You suggested the point yourself not but a few moments ago and I will rephrase that to make certain we are all of us clear. The question is asked so: does distraction benefit a run?
LINKS : And you assert that it does then, I take it?
NOGGAMEMNON : I do. And the foundation of my claim lays firmly in the tactical and scattered nature of my roll in the effort.
LINKS : But to argue that it is a benefit for your focus to wane distractedly from that job is the crux of the matter, correct?
NOGGAMEMNON : Let me continue my claim by adding another element onto our map. Let us forget the fairness of it. Let us forgo the illusion of equitable roles. Let us no longer dismay upon who does what and how much effort is asserted. It is true. You both, Links and Plodicus, are the foundation upon which our journey is borne, I concede that and do not wish to remove any glory you derive therein. Instead, let me explain to you the notion of my experience and perceptions from atop these shoulders.
LINKS : I am a little hesitant, but go on.
NOGGAMEMNON : Running is a balance between we three, no? The two of you represent the physical nature of the effort, honouring endurance and strength and a push through the inevitable and unavoidable forces of sheer physics, forces such as gravity and inertia and turbulence and even the slip-and-slide of a snow-covered walk. Conversely, I hold in for the mental nature of the effort, pulling for patience and perseverance and a push through the unavoidable natures of the wandering attentions of the mind and the weight of inevitable boredom that looms around each bend on the path. Boredom is my gravity, the weight upon my very core that pulls me to ground and grounds to my last steps of endurance.
PLODICUS : Are you telling us you’re bored?
NOGGAMEMNON : Please don’t over-simplify my friend, but… in a manner of speaking, well, it is an idle threat that adorns my efforts. Boredom for the mind is as inevitable yet unpredictable as the wind is for the body. Sometimes it swirls as if nothing more than a gentle gust in shuddering draughts. Occasionally it pushes hard from a single direction in a constant blow that drives one forward in one direction and halts progress in the opposite. Boredom, like wind, can be expected but never controlled, managed but rarely avoided. One’s best hope on a blustery day is to run directly into the wind for the outbound push and let it work to the advantage on the return journey, and many similar metaphors and connections could surely be drawn for boredom and the mind.
X0R : He’s got a point.
NOGGAMEMNON : Thank you, X0R. But to clarify, it is not that boredom is completely unexpected. Unlike the wind, it is my burden to know the exact moments when boredom might weigh heaviest upon me. It is unpredictable and foreseeable all at once.
LINKS : You are talking about the time gaps, no?
NOGGAMEMNON : I am glad that I am making some headway then. Yes, indeed. Those same gaps. Those time-spans between tactical turns and step-wise leaps, the choice of a swerve or a leap, the opting towards North versus West or the route tracking that leads into a far-flung loop back towards home, the choices that fill spaces from mere seconds to bountiful minutes drifting, wafting, billowing between airy decision-trees and optional avenues, roads oft followed but rarely repeated in exact pacing or plodding. Those gaps are where the compounding effects of boredom push through the focus and wear down the patience and perseverance that would otherwise drive the run towards a kind of glorious eternity.
LINKS : You are suggesting that if it wasn’t for boredom that we… could run forever?
NOGGAMEMNON : Well, perhaps but I could. But… no. I fail to hold out that much hope for the physical demands such an effort would contrive to enact, even on me. You have your own constraints, my friends, and though such topics should be settled on another day I simply reiterate my notion and ideal that running is a balance between we three. And my role in that balance is nearly always put off by the burden that is insurmountable boredom.
LINKS : Thus distraction becomes your chosen remedy?
NOGGAMEMNON : It is not a cure, to be certain. Distraction is but one elixir to ease the symptoms for a brief while. After all, do you not have rubberised soles to shield you from the onslaught of rough pavement and cold snow? Do you not pull taught your laces to avoid the clutch of gravity upon your shoes? I’ve never grieved you of these conveniences, have I?
PLODICUS : I think you just did.
LINKS : No, brother. He is making a point and we will both of us grant him that.
PURITY OF PERCEPTION, dialogues between the voices on distraction and the role of perception, abstraction, experience, imagination and hope.