I’m the kind of person who (tries to) concentrate on one thing at a time. Its not easy for me. I used to have all kinds of trouble. Sometimes when I would read stories, my eyes would drift off the page and I would continue a narrative, of my own making, in my head. When I read technical documents, I would have to go very slowly, to absorb everything. I remember in college, my inorganic chemistry book was written by my professor (who shall remain anonymous). No matter how many times I read it, it didn’t really make sense. It wasn’t until much later in life that I found that sometimes books are simply not well written, and other books must be consulted to understand the material.
While it is easy to point out flaws in technical books, it is more difficult for me to critique works of literature. Although I am well read, there are certain books that I just don’t understand. To read this type of book, I must have some kind of guide. The ones that come to mind specifically (I’m embarrassed to say) are James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Finnigan’s Wake. I’ve read other works by Joyce, which have been enjoyable and moving. I wish I could make some headway in these other books. If only I could concentrate.
There are people who can pay attention to more than one thing at a time. Some close family members are that way. It drives me crazy.
Now and then I get a sense of that, however. In the California sun, brightly painted fire hydrants are my version of “Oh look, a chicken!,” a phrase that indicates a highly unfocused consciousness.
My shiny object today is a superhydrant that I found on the way to the grocery store. Someone must have recently painted it, since it really caught my eye. I feel a watercolor coming on.