IN PRAISE OF SLOWNESS: CHALLENGING THE CULT OF SPEED, by carl honore
Back before Christmas, I had the opportunity to buy any harper Collins book (harper Collins is the parent company of Zondervan, ys’ parent company, if you can follow that) at a substantially reduced price. Kind of a one-time Christmas shopping thing for employees. Jeannie and I bought hundreds of dollars of books – it was just too good a deal to pass up.
And this book, in praise of slowness, was a title that caught my eye while surfing the various harper Collins websites.
Anyone who reads my blog with any regularity will know why this caught my eye. I’m clearly addicted to speed. I have a cognitive value of slowness, but haven’t been very successful at allowing it to re-orient my life. My quarterly three-day silent retreats are my one little bastion of success, and I cling to them very tightly!
I thought it would be nice to read this book on my silent retreat this past week. So I did. So there.
Really, the book is a journalists overview of the international movements to combat the practical ways a cultural assumption of speed implicates our lives. In other words: we all know that our lives have gotten yoked with speed; but there are groups of people, in various arenas, and in various countries, who are doing something proactive to resist or undo those assumptions. This book chronicles that counter-movement.
Which means: this book is not as much of a deep dive narrative or set of propositions about why we should slow down (though there is some of that).
After a few chapters setting the pace, so to speak, the books divides into chapters on various ways groups are countering speed. So there’s a chapter on food (I was truly fascinated to read about the international group called “Slow Food” and their wide variety of initiatives and practices), a chapter on cities (this was, possibly, the most interesting chapter to me, as I had no idea there were cities around the world who were adopting a “Slow City” agenda), a chapter on slow sex (yup), another on slow leisure activities, one on slow exercise (I’m seriously thinking of looking into SuperSlow, a very different kind of work out), and various other practical categories.
What the book didn’t cover, which disappointed me, was any connection to soul or spirit. And, really, the issues of fast and slow seem, to me, to be primarily soul or spirit issues.
So, really, this book was like the humanist or naturalist’s approach to why slow is good. And that doesn’t mean it was devoid of value – it was an interesting read. But it didn’t touch on my soul-level need to find more slow, and to resist more fast.