Are attention spans deteriorating?  Forty years ago, the length of Marcel Ophüls’ The Sorrow and The Pity (at 4 hours 11 minutes) or Andy Warhol’s Empire (6 hours 36 minutes) was a sign of extreme seriousness. Today, popular entertainments are vastly longer. J. M. Straczynski’s Babylon 5 was conceived as a single story told in more than 100 hours of film. Joss Whedon’s Buffy, The Vampire Slayer is a coming of age story meant to be viewed over a period of seven years. Harry Potter comes in seven volumes, none of them short, and when the children have finished those, they enjoy Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials,  J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the 20 volumes of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin stories. If our attention span grows short, one wonders where those mythic Victorians found time get anything done.