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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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Introduction: Between Mercury and Jove

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That [deceleration lane] allows you to decelerate to the proper speed,

so as not to exit the freeway or interstate at an unsafe speed,

which could result in a possible rollover of your vehicle.

Reed Berry, Highway Driving Safety

In a letter to John Hamilton Reynolds, John Keats wrote:

Now it is more noble to sit like Jove than to fly like Mercury – let us not therefore go hurrying about and collecting honey-bee like, buzzing here and there impatiently from a knowledge of what is to be arrived at; but let us open our leaves like a flower and be passive and receptive, budding patiently under the eye of Apollo and taking hints from every noble insect that favours us with a visit. Sap will be given us for Meat and dew for drink. I was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, by the beauty of the morning operating on a sense of Idleness. I have not read any Books. The Morning said I was right. I had no Idea but of the Morning and the Thrush said I was right […].1

The year 1818, when Keats wrote this letter to his friend, was perhaps one of the last moments when the poet’s words of encouragement to be idle and passive might still have resonated with remains of the appreciation which Western culture had developed for idleness. The rise of the middle classes and their...

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