About Inattention

We’ve scoured the Internet looking for interesting and humorous quotations about attention and absent-mindedness. Enjoy!


Bertrand Arthur William Russell

To be able to concentrate for a considerable time is essential to difficult achievement.

Lewis Carroll

“You’re not paying attention, “said the Hatter. “If you don’t pay him, you know, he won’t perform.

James Russell Lowell

Attention is the stuff that memory is made of, and memory is accumulated genius.

Robert Hall

In the power of fixing the attention lies the most precious of the intellectual habits.

Reader’s Digest

“These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter. I go to get something, and then wonder what I am hereafter.”

Robert Aris Willmott

Attention makes the genius; all learning, fancy, and science depend upon it. Newton traced back his discoveries to its unwearied employment. It builds bridges, opens new worlds, and heals diseases; without it taste is useless, and the beauties of literature are unobserved.

Harrison Bergeron – Kurt Vonnegut Jr (1961)

The year was 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren’t only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way . . . It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn’t think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn’t think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

John Locke

It is difficult to instruct children because of their natural inattention; the true mode, of course, is to first make our modes interesting to them.

Jonathan Swift

I never knew any man cured of inattention.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

As the gardener, by severe pruning, forces the sap of the tree into one or two vigorous limbs, so should you stop off your miscellaneous activity and concentrate your force on one or a few points.

Jose Ortega y Gasset

Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.

Unknown Author

Don’t let your mind wander; it’s far too small to be let out on its own.

William James

While walking along a street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, one day William James and a pair of his students (a boy and a girl) happened to pass a self-absorbed man muttering to himself and swinging his cane. “Whoever he is,” the girl remarked, “he’s the epitome of the absent-minded professor.” “What you really mean,” James replied, “is that he is present-minded somewhere else.”