The Faculty of Attention

“Bill poster advertising” — the Google of the early 20th century, says Henry James:

The faculty of attention has utterly vanished from the Anglo-Saxon mind, extinguished at its source by the big bayadère [a female dancer or a colourful striped fabric] of journalism, of the newspaper and the picture magazine which keeps screaming, “Look at me.” Illustrations, loud simplifications … bill poster advertising — only these stand a chance. (qtd. in Bettmann, 48)

Bettmann, Otto L. The Delights of Reading. Quotes, Notes & Anecdotes. Boston, MA: David R. Godine, 1987.


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