On Attention

‘The creative person pays close attention to what appears discordant and contradictory and is challenged by such irregularities.’
— Frank Barron
‘The great successful men of the world have used their imagination …they think ahead and create their mental picture, and then go to work materializing that picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building, steadily building.’
— Robert Collier
‘The inspired moment may sometimes be described as a kind of hallucinatory state of mind: one half of the personality emotes and dictates while the other half listens and notates. The half that listens has better look the other way, had better simulate a half attention only, for the half that dictates is easily disgruntled and avenges itself for too close inspection by fading entirely away.’
— Aaron Copeland
‘The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands.’
— Benjamin Franklin
‘The best genius is that which absorbs and assimilates everything without doing the least violence to its fundamental destiny.’
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
‘I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.’
— Ernest Hemingway
‘The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best—and therefore never scrutinize or question.’
— Stephen Jay Gould
‘To live in the world of creation–to get into it and stay in it–to frequent it and haunt it, to think intently and fruitfully, to woo combinations and inspirations into being by a depth and continuity of attention and meditation–this is the only thing.’
— Henry James
‘A genius is the man in whom you are least likely to find the power of attending to anything insipid or distasteful in itself. He breaks his engagements, leaves his letters unanswered, neglects his family duties incorrigibly, because he is powerless to turn his attention down and back from those more interesting trains of imagery with which his genius constantly occupies his mind.’
— William James
‘Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there ever floats a sort of dust-cloud of exceptional observations, of occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always proves more easy to ignore than to attend to.’
— William James
‘If the individual is narrowly concentrated on the goal, to the exclusion of other relevant aspects of the problem situation, he is often unable to achieve a solution. The creative thinker must stand sufficiently detached from his work.’
— Mary Henle
‘When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.’
— Abraham Maslow
‘Creative people are all there, totally immersed, fascinated and absorbed in the present, in the current situation, in the here-now, with the matter-in-hand.’
— Abraham Maslow
‘There is an angel imprisoned in it and I must set it free.’
— Michaelangelo (of a block of marble)
‘Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.’
— Michaelangelo
‘If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient attention than to any other talent.’
— Isaac Newton
‘God dwells in the details.’
— Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
‘The true creator may be recognized by his ability always to find about him, in the commonest and humblest thing, items worthy of note.’
— Igor Stravinsky
‘Curiosity is as much the parent of attention, as attention is of memory.’
— Richard Whately
‘To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing. To be on the alert is to live, to be lulled into security is to die.’
— Oscar Wilde