Dr Alessandra Aloisi is Lecturer in French in the department of Modern Languages at Oriel and Wadham. Her latest book (originally written in Italian and then translated into Spanish) is titled The Power of Distraction.
‘How often do you try and fail to remember a name? And suddenly, just when you stop thinking about it and allow our attention to wander elsewhere, your mind relaxes and recollects the name. Distraction has been disparaged by a centuries-long cultural tradition – involving Augustine, Pascal and Heidegger, among others – which has emphasised the importance of reflection and concentration. Yet distraction is a key component of our psychic life. This book highlights distraction’s role as a creative and revolutionary approach to life, thought and writing, but also as a distinctive perspective leading to alternative forms of experience.’
It is often said that we live in the age of distraction, that modern technologies distract people, and take them away from what is relevant. In her book, Dr Aloisi questions whether they are rather ways to capture and monopolize our attention in advance, preventing distraction. The Power of Distraction looks at the work of different philosophers and writers: Montaigne, Pascal, Voltaire, Leopardi, Locke, Saint Augustine, the mathematician Poincaré, Proust, Bergson, Rousseau, and Deleuze. The book goes from one to another, following different threads, establishing the causes of complicity, showing resonances of some works in others and, ultimately, reflecting on the importance of distraction.
Since its publication in Spanish for Alianza Editorial, Dr Aloisi’s book has been discussed on Spanish radio and has had recent full-page reviews in the major Spanish newspaper El Pais:
The Power of Distraction will soon be available in English for Bloomsbury Academic.