Oct 20, 2009, 8:05 AM
Carl Honore has accomplished in his novel, "In Praise of Slow," a most thought-provoking work that raises interesting philosophical questions. The anecdote-rich, elaborate work consists of the author's experiences in various countries as he goes about gathering data on a subject that few would ordinarily reflect on but yet which is of unquestionable relevance to man's life, regardless of where he may be.
Honore discusses the comparative qualities of speed and slowness in a world that has over the centuries grown to value speed-dominated life over a gentler, more salubrious Slow life. By fast and slow life, the author refers to two contrasting modes of living whereby the former is characterised by the inexplicable tendency to do too many things in a given time while in the latter a more natural approach typified by more reasonable and practicable pace of going about daily life is the norm. As various episodes in the book make clear, slower living is gradually taking root in the modern society where the ravages of fast life have overshadowed any real benefits its adoption might have conferred on human race and nature.
Taking pains to give the background to the preponderance of fast life, the author considers man's conception of time and its use as factors in determining the pace that his life adopts. He brings out the part played by the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the selfish industrialist's (and by extension all who stand to benefit directly from an uncanny pace of life) proclivity to throw all caution to the wind in the name of productivity and maximisation of profit. But at the same time, and even more to the point, he shows how the working man has on instinct demonstrated his abhorrence to being made to do too much in an incongruously short time span.
An evidence of the author's objectivity and seriousness of purpose consists in his recognition of the value of speed- as represented to some extent by modern technology- and how its application in certain spheres of life has helped to bring advancement in modern life. Be that as it may, he shows how inordinate and indiscriminate application of speed could wreak havoc with not only man's equilibrium but also the eco system. Throughout the advanced world from Tokyo to Toronto, from New York to Rome, the author cites instances where men and women have fallen unsuspecting victims to fast pace of life in their work places and at home; and how man's endeavours in furtherance of the cult of speed has depleted available natural resources and endangered farming activities from cultivation to animal husbandry.
The work represents an eloquent advocacy directed at the world's corporate and private establishments; institutional apparatuses and even individuals to spare some thought for the health of the workforce, sustainable use of resources, promotion of community spirit and the preservation of social fabric by simply experimenting with the Slow Philosophy.
On a more hopeful and pleasant note, the author gives an account of the positive advances made as a matter of necessity in infusing slowness in various aspects of human activity in different parts of the advanced world where the planning and design of human settlements and centres of activity are done to promote slow pace of doing things. It seeks to dispel the notion that slow is undesirable by showing the favourable impact it is having on the life of its growing adherents in today's world.