Susan Sontag, in “The Aesthetics of Silence” (Styles of Radical Will, 1969):
In one of its aspects, art is a technique for focusing attention, for teaching skills of attention. (While the whole of the human environment might be so described — as a pedagogic instrument — this description particularly applies to works of art.) The history of the arts is tantamount to the discovery and the formulation of a repertory of objects on which to lavish attention.Back in grad school, I put these sentences on the syllabus for my freshman lit and comp class. Some nerve. I was an optimistic kid. Still am.