Saturday, November 12, 2005

In Praise of Slowness

My paternal family carries the choicest of genes - but not the ones marked for laziness. But it seems to be dormant in me or so I claim: Grandma cooks an entire meal in one hour even before the roosters wake up to announce dawn, Father finishes up his office work before noon and lazes around during the rest of the day. When questioned, he claims to "think" and Sister tries to outrun him by walking way ahead of her rather smart class. Their task completed and nothing else to do, I get mocked for being "slow". I used to vigorously argue and tried hard to espouse the virtues of slowness. It all turned out to be unintentionally comic but now I have an international bestseller to back me up in the war against these fast people! And oddly enough, I discovered this book as I was rapidly advancing towards my concourse in O'hare to catch a flight back to Champaign...

Carl Honore's book "In Praise of Slowness" explores the cult of speed that produces mindless machines out of humans: racing all the time to cram more into life than they were designed to handle. The book argues that Fast food, fast trains, fast healing, fast track careers and even quickies have taken the pleasure out of the activity and placed the focus on completion. Instead of rejuvenating the mind, the activities of seeking food, work and sex work in reverse and produce a strain. We dread to cook and eat, dread to 'travel to work' when we should, in a happy world, enjoy each of these activities. Arguing for slowing down, he cites numerous examples of situations where slow and not speed has produced benefitting results and therein lies the crux of this work.

A good book to read with many interesting sections, like the ones on Medicine: Doctors and Patience and Children: Raising an unhurried child. Interestingly, some villages and small towns in Italy have adopted this policy of not working for more than 6 hours a day. While the efficacy of this mode is very debatable in the context of global competition, it is still worthy to remember that people wish to spend their time in the company of friends and lovers instead of staring at a computer monitor for the better part of their waking lives, in an attempt to reach the unrealistic expectations of a greedy society. There is also a chapter devoted to sex titled, "Sex: a lover with a slow hand" that a miniscule population of the readership might be interested in. Should I mention that I had absolutely no interest whatsover in this chapter, although some of the thoughts expressed sounded sensible.

I read this book a couple of months back and started writing this piece soon after. Needless to say, in finishing it prompty, I have taken the author's advice to heart!


Blogger atma_tripta said...

You could use some relativity funda in your battles!Remember the famous quote by Einstein on relativity?
On a philosophical note: A fruit ripens by patient nurturing, not by mashing it...(did you ever squeeze unripe mangoes to soften them and prove that they were 'ripe' and eat them before they are 'spoiled'? :)

12:18 PM  
Blogger littlecow said...

@at: no i dont know the quote by Einstein? but as your fruit funda goes, you make banana chips not by using a ripe one but a raw one. so you see, both the ripe ones and not so ripe ones are important... *with this profound exposition, the author drifts off into a wistful mood of imagining banana chips...mmmm...*

10:24 AM  

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