Quarterly Essay 72 On The Inner Life In The Digital Age (eBook)
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What is the inner life? And is it vanishing in the digital age?
Throughout history, artists and philosophers have cultivated the deep self, and seen value in solitudeand reflection. But today, through social media, wall-to-wall marketing, reality television and theagitation of modern life, everything feels illuminated, made transparent. We feel bereft without ourphones and their cameras and the feeling of instant connectivity. It gets hard to pick up a book, harderstill to stay with it.
In this eloquent and profound essay, renowned critic Sebastian Smee brings to the surface the idea ofinner life the awareness one may feel in front of a great painting or while listening to extraordinarymusic by a window at dusk or in a forest at night. No nostalgic lament, this essay evokes what isvaluable and worth cultivating a connection to our true selves, and a feeling of agency in the mysteryof our own lives. At the same time, such contemplation puts us in an intensely charged relationshipwith things, people or works of art that are outside us.
If we lose this power, Smee asks, what do we lose of ourselves?