Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Slowness Is An Act Of Resistance

Rebecca Solnit is so wise.

The language of commerce has been engineered to describe the overt purpose of a thing, but cannot encompass fringe benefits or peripheral pleasures. It weighs the obvious against what in its terms are incomprehensible. When I drive from here to there, speed, privacy, control, and safety are easy to claim. When I walk, what happens is more vague, more ambiguous—and in many circumstances much richer. I am out in the world. It’s exercise, though not so quantifiably as on a treadmill in a gym with a digital readout. It’s myriad little epiphanies and encounters that knit me more tightly into my place and maybe enhance the place overall. The carbon emissions are essentially nil. Many more benefits are more subjective, more ethereal—and more wordy. You can’t describe them in a few familiar phrases; and if you’re not practiced at describing them, you may not be able to articulate them at all. It is difficult to value what cannot be named. Since someone makes money every time you buy a car or fill it up, there’s a whole commercial language built around getting us to drive; there’s little or no language promoting the free act of walking. Have you not driven a Ford lately?


  1. very true! The less one desires to zoom about one's life, the LESS cash someone makes off of you! 'They' want us to zoom... and the West does. Unfortunately everyone on the planet seems to want to zoom too... zooming molecules? It's like water starting to boil... and we know what will happen when humanity boils over! lol

  2. Thank you for this Towanda. I am spending a semester in a place where most people drive (not a walking friendly town), and I am very aware of how I miss walking, with its little epiphanies, as you say.

  3. Oh no, how can you introduce me to Orion - yet another excellent website that I will now have read compulsively?
    Have you any IDEA how small and gritty my eyes are getting from lack of sleep?


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