“I still think the revolution is to make the world safe for poetry, meandering, for the frail and vulnerable, the rare and obscure the impractical and local and small, and I feel that we’ve lost if we don’t practice and celebrate them now, instead of waiting for some ’60s never-neverland of after-the-revolution. And we’ve lost the revolution if we relinquish our full possibilities and powers.”
~ Rebecca Solnit in an interview with Benjamin Cohen in Believer Magazine
In “Slowness as an Act of Resistance – Finding Time” article, featured in Orion Magazine and re-featured in DailyGood, Solnit writes:
“THE FOUR HORSEMEN OF MY APOCALYPSE are called Efficiency, Convenience, Profitability, and Security, and in their names, crimes against poetry, pleasure, sociability, and the very largeness of the world are daily, hourly, constantly carried out.”
“These marauding horsemen are deployed by technophiles, advertisers, and profiteers to assault the nameless pleasures and meanings that knit together our lives and expand our horizons.”
“The conundrum is that the language to describe the ineffable splendors and possibilities of our lives takes time to master, takes a certain unhurried engagement with the tasks of description, assessment, critique, and conversation; that to speak this slow language you must slow down, and to slow down you must have some inkling of what you will gain by doing so.”
Slow down. Take a breath (or several). Be well.
How else do you cultivate slow, reclaim quality, restore meaning?
November 9, 2015 at 12:04 am
For all her talk of language the thing Rebecca Solnit never seems to clearly state is that she’s essentially critiquing capitalism. Such a taboo. When society takes as its basic operating premise the notion that everything must be monetized, then all that is not becomes invisible, unnamed, worthless. All those experiences that give life texture, depth, and meaning – that flesh out the bones of time – that inter/subjectivity is where we find life diminished.
So let’s rebel. Just for a few hours, let no one profit. Make poems, walk the dog, tell stories, sleep outdoors, listen to birds, cook great-grandmother’s soup, draw chalk flowers on the sidewalk, blow harmonicas, blow bubbles, court your lover without words, nap, remember how to knit, stare at the horizon. Close your eyes. Listen, touch, smell, taste.
November 9, 2015 at 6:24 pm
Thank you, Ruth, for sharing these insights and evolutionary rebellion. 🙂 These quality-of-life elements are woven now into my life-as-usual, though it wasn’t always the conditioning or the case before deliberating shifting or transforming that norm. Bigger shift happens when enough people transform more personally, as you know.
And yes, those are surely the ‘sacred cows’ or big taboos, so as Caroline Casey (visionary activist) often says, “So now we’re into spell-breaking” … reclaiming what was once sacred and artfully and courageously breaking some of these very taboos. Your sense?
Perhaps your suggestions will inspire more than a few readers who drop by this post here at Sophia’s Children. 🙂 May it be so. Thanks again for offering them.
November 9, 2015 at 3:37 am
I think about the association of money with everything else in our lives when I watch “Antiques Roadshow.” The experts’ commentary about the potentially rare objects people bring to the program ends with the big reveal: how much is the object worth? Yes, I know many of us wouldn’t mind finding something in the attic worth selling, or that needs to be insured. But I find everything else about the treasures on the show much more interesting. . .what are they, where were they made, how has the family used them or displayed them, and how old are they? In light of all that can be said about each painting or book or vase, the monetary value seems to small and irrelevant.
Inadvertently, this popular program is directing our attention more to the wrong attributes contained within and around the beloved keepsakes in our lives. If we could step away and breathe and smell the roses or the coffee or the falling leaves, perhaps we would notice there are a lot of reasons not to be in a constant hurry, much less running our minds like adding machines.
November 9, 2015 at 6:29 pm
Thank you, Malcolm. That’s such a great insight about Antiques Roadshow … I’ve seen it a couple of times while visiting family members who watch it, and as I read your comment I see very much what you mean. Something thought of us as valuable can suddenly be proclaimed ‘worthless’ (or occasionally, worth quite a bit!).
I enjoy (and find very rich) the line of inquiry you exemplify, those more qualitative ‘story’ questions about a given item (or old home, or plot of land, or ‘skeleton key’ or vase or …). In comparison to those rich legacies, reducing something to a $ or monetary assessment of ‘worth’ does seem impoverished and limiting indeed.
I also appreciate your refocus on those experiences and things that lend a richness and quality of life (because while some things of high monetary value might do, and it’s lovely to have enough cash, study after study shows that financial and material ‘wealth’ alone do not happiness make. We can see this so well, sadly, in our culture, yes?).
Many thanks, again, for visiting and for sharing these wonderful reflections.
November 12, 2015 at 7:44 pm
Your posts give rise to many reflections.
November 22, 2015 at 6:49 pm
Thank you, Malcolm … as do yours. 🙂 xoxo Jamie
November 12, 2015 at 12:15 pm
Hello Jamie, I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to the Scottish Borders as autumn gently gives way to winter. A solitary walk two days ago by the River Tweed, along a leaf-strewn riverside path flanked on one side by a stand of sturdy old beech trees and the other by the full river in autumnal spate, taking my time, taking photographs…that was far more restorative than spending a lot of cash on two hours in a high-tech spa would have been…
Many thanks for this post and for the comments. Very affirming of what I try to do and be as much as is possible living in this commerce-driven world of ours.
November 12, 2015 at 7:08 pm
Hey there, Anne. Very lovely … your recent trip to the Scottish Borders (which just surfaced in the novel I’ve just finished, in fact). It’s nice to see the validation of those lifestyle choices, isn’t it? To a ‘slower’, more health and earth-etc. friendly way of living. As you say, in the commerce-driven norm, walking the slower, gentler way can feel a bit like the odd-woman or odd-man out for many who are in communities/cultures where that’s not the norm. Power to ya! Thanks for visiting, Anne. xoxo Jamie