Carl Honoré : Speed of contemporary culture

October 20, 2007

“I took a speed reading course. We read War and Peace. It’s about Russia.”
– Woody Allen

This quote cracks me up. But it makes the important point that there is a lot that is lost when we go too fast. We have forgotten how to unplug and this causes damage to our lives. Enter Carl Honore, the author of the book “In Praise of Slow: How a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed”.

He tells about how speed has overcome every part of the food value chain, from fast-growing crop to “dining al desko”, and how the Slow Food Movement was a reaction to that. He tells about slow cities and about how cities are reconfiguring their urban landscape in a bid to slow down mad city life. He cites work as another area where going slowly actually makes you better off because it allows to carve out space in your day to be creative. There are joys and benefits of just hanging out, resting out and playing and perils of being over-scheduled and over-stretched.

Honore suggests that going slow re-establishes the link between the mind and body and uses slow sex to illustrate his point. When it is fast, it gets the job done but it is in the slowness that deep and meaningful connections are established. His basic point is a fairly intuitive one that is so hard to achieve in real life.

As someone who has recently tried to shift gears down a notch or two, I do agree that often less is more and slower is better. But in many ways it is not about doing things faster or slower. It’s about doing them better. And to do that you need to change gears sometimes. There is a time to sow and a time to reap.

I think the real issue is to be in tune with what is the right approach for the right time.  On that note, I end this post with a wonderful quote from him: I am now on speaking terms with my inner tortoise.


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