Not Paying Attention

Fast and loose ekphrasis

This hybrid critical/creative paper addresses ekphrasis in an age characterised by short attention spans. It suggests that while ekphrasis is generally considered as arising from a poet’s close attention to an artwork -- the product of what psychologist Daniel Kahneman terms System 2 perceptions thatrequire time -- and can in turn prompt the reader to return to an artwork with heightened attention, it can also represent the fleeting glimpse that characterises much of our sensory experience of the world around us and, indeed, art. Considering Owen Bullock’s idea of ‘radical ekphrasis’ in relation to Kahneman’s category of System 1 perceptions – that is, immediate response to stimuli -- this paper explores the possibilities of an ekphrasis of the transitory and concludes with an example thereof.