Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I can't remember how long ago I read "Slowness" by Milan Kundera nor most of the plot. I'm pretty sure I didn't own a cell phone yet. I do remember that the contrast of pace between the lives of the 18th century courtesans and the contemporary characters. Now more than a decade after the book was published, the question "Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared?" posed by the narrator seems even more apt. The 15 year old book seems prophetic of our ever accelerating lives in a digitally driven world.

There's lots I love about technology, like being able to talk to friends on the long train ride home or track down long lost friends who should have never fallen out of my life. On the other hand, I don't like the 24/7 connectedness, the platform for stupidity (I will not name political movements here), or seeing how engrossed people are with their various devices. There's something chilling about watching people text. Is this what we were given opposable thumbs for?

I don't think I would be happy in living in a horse drawn world where getting to the next town is a major effort. I would not like to wait weeks for a message to arrive from a friend. I do however wonder what happened to the world where Sunday dinners were not rushed. Where activities like taking a loaf of bread to the duck pond to feed the ducks was more likely than rushing around to stock up at Mega Stores.

I fondly remember Sunday afternoons where there was time to read or take a nap while football played on the TV in the other room. It was normal to just take a ride in the car with no real purpose other than to take a look around while the roast was cooking. Then the whole family would sit down at my Grandmother's dinning room table and enjoy a meal together. There was no sense of rushing.

This month I'm planning on lots of posts that celebrate Slowness.


xoxoxoe said...

It's not easy, but I also would like to slow my life down. I've had to in some ways this year. In other ways I'm still terrible - trying to rush the kid off to school in the morning, e.g. But I think one weekend day should be a day of inactivity, as far as the outside, rushing world goes.

As your little one gets more and more independent you might be able to slow yourself down a bit more. I am able to, if not sleep in, at least bed in on weekend mornings while the little gal gets her own breakfast. That extra hour or so to read a chapter of a book (even if it's interrupted 20 times with questions or "hi mommy!"s) is invaluable.

I have so many books in my too-read stack, but you have inspired me to add one more ...

jane said...

The idea of one day a week of inactivity sounds great but it's so hard to achieve. I also have a tono of books to read and projects to finish. My long commute is making reading more feasible but there are some projects that are just not doable on the train.

One thing I'm trying to do which has it's advantages and disadvantages is to not take in so much of what's being broadcast. While I feel a bit out of it not knowing the news of the day I'm also calmer not taking it all in. I don't want to be uninformed but I also don't want to hear the grisly details of the local news or the latest celebrity gossip.

I always struggle with the right balance but for now I'm not going to win any quizzes about current events.

I am reading an amazing book though, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I almost bought it years ago but something about the synopsis on the jacket turned me off. Too bad, it's a great read and now I understand why the blurb was perhaps purposely oblique. If you haven't already read it, I reccomend adding it to your reading list.