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John Plotz in the New York Times: Their Noonday Demons, and Ours
These days, when we try to get a fix on our wasted time, we use labels that run from the psychological (distraction, “mind-wandering” or “top-down processing deficit”) to the medical (A.D.H.D., hypoglycemia) to the ethical (laziness, poor work habits). But perhaps “acedia” is the label we need. After all, it afflicted those whose pursuits prefigured the routines of many workers in the postindustrial economy. Acedia’s sufferers were engaged in solitary, sedentary, cerebral effort toward a clear final goal — but a goal that could be reached only by crossing an open, empty field with few signposts. The empty field is the monk’s day of spiritual contemplation in a cell besieged by the demon acedia — or your afternoon in a coffee shop with tiptop Wi-Fi.