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Resistance in the Deceleration Lane

Velocentrism, Slow Culture and Everyday Practice

Series:

Marzena Kubisz

Motivated by a desire to reflect critically on the ways in which speeds, both high and low, and their representations affect the construction, deconstruction and reconstruction of meanings around particular cultural texts, images and practices, Resistance in the Deceleration Lane uses the velocentric perspective to examine the phenomenon of «slow living» and its rhetoric. The book analyzes cultural practices which are inspired by the conviction that the increased speed of everyday life cannot be accepted unquestioningly. It portrays slowness as a strategy of contestation and resistance on one hand, and on the other it highlights the process of the gradual commercialization of the slow logo and suggests the rise of a post-slow stage in the history of speed.
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Chapter One: “To Fly like Mercury”: Acceleration and Modern Experience

Extract



Only against the background of speed

can slowness be determined and learnt.

Helga Novotny, “Time – The Longing for the Moment”

Anything that is away is too far-away. […]

And anything that lasts, lasts simply too long.

Wolfgang Sachs, “Speed Limits”

“The Erle of Tolous,” a late medieval English chivalric romance, starts with an introductory prayer in which an author asks God to “Gyff us wele to spede/And gyff us grace so to do/That we may come thi blysse unto/On rode as thou dydest blede.”1 When read by a contemporary reader, a humble request to “Permit [us] to speed well” (“Gyff us wele to spede”) may demonstrate one of the most concise versions of the evolutionary history of the term “speed.” Interestingly, archaic as it might be, the phrase turns out to be emblematic of a present-day mindset since the romance uses the meaning of the word “speed” which to contemporary speed aficionados may have a very special appeal. Old English spēd, Middle English spede or Old German spout originally meant “prosperity;” the meaning of speed as “quickness of motion” emerged in late Old English thus causing the word to develop two meanings at the same time.

The analysis of the etymological history of the word “speed” reveals an interesting paradox and illustrates the change in the role speed plays in our lives today. The old-fashioned use of the word “speed” is anachronic only...

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