I have uncovered a mythical place, a place rumored of and nearly forgotten by the throws of modern life. It is a somber house, full of reverent heads bowed with devout focus over their written works, towards which their hearts turn. I walked in, uncertain of whether to speak. “May I help you?” the lady behind the booth asked. Slanting the volume of my voice downward, I reply, “The three last issues of Wired magazine, please.”
Yes, it was the New York Public Library. The silence hits you like a wall when you enter an archive or a reading room. There is a shared agreement and understanding: all come to work, to thrive upon the focus in the air, which each new devotee adds to.
I can almost imagine benefactor Samuel Tilden standing upon the steps of the 5th Avenue entrance, declaring in the lantern light: “Give us your addled, your burdened, your distracted masses who yearn to focus freely!”
The entrance to the Church of Deep Work is narrow – because of the bag check security – and it’s followers may be few, but I see a revolution coming! Robopocaplyse? No, it’s the fleet of knowledge workers striding singularly, together, on their independent, intertwining journeys.
Hats off to Patience and Fortitude for guarding the way for newspaper-readers, writers, and researchers alike to find their place in the stacks.