A first person analysis by a successful, disillusioned liberal professional, Canadian journalist Carl Honoré, of the worship of speed, that has become a social standard throughout the world.
Why is a seasoned and serious journalist, capable of publishing his work in media as renowned as The Economist and The Guardian (weekly and daily, both British) praising slowness? Has he gone
crazy? Has he embraced some type of radical spiritual confession? Has
he changed his clothes for natural silks and left the field of
Anyone who takes a closer look at In Praise of Slowness: a world movement challenging the worship of velocity, will recognize that Carl Honoré, the author and journalist in question, is far from crazy.
Whether or not we have heard of the people, movements and associations that preach a life in which all can be done in their “tempo giusto” without renouncing anything, the book describes some symptoms that we can all relate to.
Urgency, work, half-answered emails, informal appointments and work breakfasts, scheduled time with your partner and family, success derived from the demonstration of exhausting efficiency, career productivity raised to the umpteenth power, vitamins, exercise.
For Carl Honoré, this cocktail seemed to malfunction, as he explains at the beginning of In Praise of Slowness, a work that joins the author in the search for voices critical of the current rhythm of life of people increasingly more urban, economically solvent and educated.
This type of person, also often a renowned liberal professional -is the case of Honoré, in contact with a cosmopolitan and liberal culture since childhood-, does not have time to enjoy his ostensible wealth, translated in goods and purchasing power, perhaps with a touch of philanthropy and “good citizenship”.
These riches should result in what we have euphemistically called “quality of life”, though for many people it just doesn’t add up.
Neither conversions to eastern philosophies nor a return to the Luddite ideology: tempo giusto
In his search for alternative ways to improve our personal life in the so-called “age of velocity”, Honoré casts a wide net over the slow movements gaining popularity in cities, offices, factories, neighborhoods, kitchens, hospitals, rooms of concert, dormitories, gymnasiums and schools.
Slow Movement, Slow Food and Città Slow are only some examples of this growing interest of people worldwide to reflect on our culture of “doing more every minute, every hour, every day”. An unattainable yearning for the absolute productivity.
As he warns within the front flap of his book, “Here you will find no Luddite (workers of the 19th century who organized to destroy machines) calls to overthrow technology and seek a pre-industrial utopia. This is a modern revolution, championed by e-mailing, cell phone-using lovers of sanity.”
The philosophy of slowness, according to Honoré, can be summarized in a word: balance. People can discover energy and efficiency where they least expect it: in doing things more slowly.
In Praise of Slowness is not a spectacular narration full of shocking discoveries or explanations of conspiracy theories about the “State” or the “system”; or, clearly, about “capitalism”. It is not a work that, more than suggesting, screams “Buy me! I am the absolute self-help book, the book that will give you back your life”. You don’t need to fear the smell of incense, it’s not here.
Nevertheless, its simplicity and the well-studied position of its author leave a calming and lasting bouquet; in this case, perceptible by all: it’s not necessary to take a course nor has Honoré asked anyone to become a monk.
- Title: In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed
- Author: Carl Honoré
- Editorial: HarperSanFrancisco
- Genre: Nonfiction
- Pages: 352
- Year: 2004