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Resistance in the Deceleration Lane

Velocentrism, Slow Culture and Everyday Practice

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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 Three: “To Sit like Jove”: Slowness and Everyday Resistance

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How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.

Annie Dillard, The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

[A]n excess of speed turns into repose.

Roland Barthes, Mythologies

“Speed,” one of the chapters in Thomas Hyllard Ericksen’s Tyranny of the Moment, opens with an excerpt of a poem by a Norwegian poet and performer, Odd Börretzen, who says: “[t]he Japanese/have reduced the time to four minutes and fifteen seconds/in a recording of Beethoven’s fifth/symphony. That’s how fast things are.”1 In June 1955 Glenn Gould, the Canadian pianist, recorded Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach. The recording lasted 38 minutes and 27 seconds. Twenty-six years later, in May 1981, Gould entered the studio to record the piece again. This time the recording lasted 51 minutes and 15 seconds. The musician explained the reason for this change: “[…] as I’ve grown older I find many performances, […] just too fast for comfort. I guess part of the explanation is that all music that really interests me […] is contrapuntal music […] and I think […] that with really complex contrapuntal textures one does need a certain deliberation, a certain deliberate-ness”2 [emphasis mine]. Although a general tendency is to minimize, shorten and compress almost everything in order to extend the range of possibilities and options available for immediate consumption, Gould’s re-recording of Bach’s music may be read not only as an expression of the musician’s artistic integrity but also of his critical evaluation...

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