On a recent visit to NYU I accidentally activated an alarm by exiting through the wrong door. As I sheepishly retraced my steps back toward the security guard, he admonished me ‘Didn’t you read the sign on the door?’. Actually, I try very hard not to read signs. That little voice in my head likes to read them to me. In my undergrad house at Caltech, I’d sometimes get up from working on a problem set to go to the restroom: ‘I wonder if I approximated the functio… “PLEASE PROP DOOR OPEN WHEN NOT IN USE” .. uh… what was I thinking?’. I tried to move the sign or dispose of it altogether, but it would reappear in the same spot shortly.

Recently my attempts to think on the way to and from lunch have been foiled by the brilliant “Thanks to Berkeley” campaign. As I walk down Berkeley’s shady paths, I’m greeted by smiling faces telling me all that they can do thanks to their fine university. Staring at the ground is a pity in such pretty surroundings, but it did pay off recently when I had to step over someone sprawled in the middle of the path, possibly protesting something, possibly not.

Perhaps my most pathetic repeat reading is that of art posters specifying the artist and the exhibit featuring the work, e.g.:

There are studies recording a higher incidence of traffic accidents within viewing distance of attention-grabbing billboards. But who is keeping track of the many small crashes our brains experience when exposed to reading material?

  One Response to “Reading to distraction”

  1. Cause the brain is largely inhibiting all excitements seems to be just a way for enduring conditions. It is a blessing to be able to have a neutral stance and seeing the whole like for instance in nature. Never looked at this this way, I think your point is pretty realistic. 🙂

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