The lead article in today’s New York Times, House & Home section, above the fold: The Slow Life Picks up Speed, by Penelope Green. Of course I love reading that the concept of Slow is viral and infectious in the best sense, extending beyond just food, cities and design into other areas of our lives. The creation credo of this blog is a memorable quote from art historian Robert Hughes (you can read it by going to the About page on this blog) and I continue to be inspired by what slow art can mean.
Here’s a few excerpts from Green’s article if you are new to this way of thinking:
The Slow Food movement…essentially challenges one to use local ingredients harvested and put together in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Above all it emphasizes slowness in the creation and consumption of products as a corrective to the frenetic pace of 21st-century life. “Good, clean and fair” is the Slow Food credo, and it has — rather slowly — begun to make its way out of the kitchen and into the rest of the house…Slow Food is now in its third decade, an established global movement with an official manifesto and about 85,000 members in over 100 countries…
Slow, as Carl Honoré, a Canadian journalist living in London, pointed out, is sometimes just a state of mind. His 2005 book, “In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed” (HarperOne), collected all manner of slow movements, from tantric sex to Slow Food to the Society for the Deceleration of Time, a civic group based Austria that once called on Olympics organizers to award gold medals to athletes who had the slowest times.
“Sometimes it’s more of a click in attitude than anything else,” said Mr. Honoré, who once got a speeding ticket on his way to a Slow Food meal in Italy, where the movement was born.
Slow is also an idea, it seems, whose time has come. “When I was researching the book,” he continued, “if you Googled slow movement, there wasn’t anything. As a growing cultural quake it just wasn’t there. Now, of course, there are hundreds of sites, and every week I get an e-mail from a student wanting to write his or her thesis on slow cities or slow design.” As a result, traffic and queries at inpraiseofslow.com, Mr. Honoré’s blog, are overwhelming him, and he’s handing off his slow duties to Slowplanet, a Web site that he and Mr. Berthelsen are setting up together. “The time is now ripe for trying to formalize this slow revolution,” Mr. Berthelsen, the founder of the World Institute of Slowness, an advocacy group based in Kristiansand, Norway, said…In his lectures to corporate Europe, Mr. Berthelsen, urges workers to work smarter, not faster or harder, and to become more aware of the process than the product. “I always lived under the mantra that the fast will beat the big … but the slow will beat the fast.”
In a world on hyperdrive, science is proving him to be right. A 2005 study sponsored by Hewlett-Packard showed that the I.Q.s of workers who responded quickly to the constant barrage of e-mails they received during the day fell 10 points, more than double the I.Q. drop of someone smoking marijuana.
“Fast isn’t turning us into Masters of the Universe,” Mr. Honoré said. “It’s turning us into Cheech and Chong”…
“Slow is just a new word to understand old problems,” Mr. Honoré said. “It’s a re-freshening of ideas that have been there since time immemorial. But there’s a new appeal about the word slow. It’s pithy, it’s countercultural.”
But it may not be American. Mr. Honoré’s publisher in the United States couldn’t get a handle on the word. “They thought it was ungrammatical or something,” he said. Which is why in this country his book is titled, “In Praise of Slowness,” much to Mr. Honoré’s amusement. “Slow is the word that’s escaped from the Anglosphere and attached itself to everything going,” he said, listing a few examples, like Italy’s Slow Cities and Japan’s Slow Life movement, “whereas Slowness hasn’t.”
In any case, evangelists for the movement are coming to New York, America’s fastest city, on Feb. 25. On that day, members of the Art of Slow Living, an Italian civic group, will be handing out symbolic speeding tickets to frantic pedestrians, said its organizer, Bruno Contigiani — that is, if he can get a permit from the Parks Department to organize in Union Square. Feb. 25 falls on a Monday, which, as Mr. Contigiani pointed out in an e-mail message, is a hard day to slow down.