patient, inefficient, not shaped by productivity and use value, not needing to always be fast, more cyclical than linear, deep not surface level, hesitant

from ch 4 of my dissertation

we must exercise patience so that we do not rush to synthesize or assimilate each other’s ideas or experiences in order to relieve ourselves of the discomfort and annoyance of juggling multiple claims, visions and experiences

On Rumination and Slow, Careful Consideration from TROUBLE

Chewy writing is dense and requires that both the writer and the reader devote substantial time to thinking through the ideas, theories or experiences that are being written about. Unlike some pithy writing, which is aimed at getting to the point quickly and efficiently so that the reader can easily digest the ideas, chewy writing is aimed at encouraging (or forcing) the reader to stop and engage in slow and careful rumination (chewing) on ideas, words, and claims. Here is what Butler says in “What is Critique: An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue” about the need for chewiness and how it enables us to patiently and persistently think and reflect:

But here I would ask for your patience since it turns out that critique is a practice that requires a certain amount of patience in the same way that reading, according to Nietzsche, required that we act a bit more like cows than humans and learn the art of slow rumination (307).

A dense, chewy bagel cannot easily be consumed. It requires effort to be eaten. A chewy bagel text is the same way. It is not meant to be easily understood or digested. It demands that we devote some serious time and effort to engaging and processing the ideas that it presents.

Doctoral Feminist Theory Exam, Question 1: Feminism and Rhetoric
Slow, steady, persistent erosion of a faulty foundation from TROUBLE
On Not Running So Fast: Jan 24, 2017

Inefficient and Unproductive

On Not Being Efficient and Going Slow from STORY

I told them to color hard in order to do it right. And go straight to using force–thinking I was showing them a short-cut. This took away the way of coloring they would have found on their their own. By telling them just how to do it, I took the playing around away, the gradual figuring out that brings something alive to the activity, makes it worthwhile… (Lynda Barry, Syllabus)

But I think that inconvenience has its virtues. Wrangling with inconvenience is like choosing to write by hand instead of typing or dictating. You learn more about the words you are processing….Archives are a means to an end, not an end in themselves, and wrestling with the inconvenience of certain kinds of records causes a kind of reprocessing to commence, in which records can serve completely new purposes and often new interests (Rick Howard).

Unproductive, Counterproductive, or Super Productive? You Decide
Loitering is Delightful/ Ross Gay

The Webster’s definition of loiter reads thus: “to stand or wait around idly without apparent purpose,” and “to travel indolently with frequent pauses.” Among the synonyms for this behavior are lingerloaflazeloungelollygagdawdleamblesauntermeanderputterdillydally, and mosey. Any one of these words, in the wrong frame of mind, might be considered a critique or, when nouned, an epithet (“Lollygagger!” or “Loafer!”). Indeed, lollygag was one of the words my mom would use to cajole us while jingling her keys when she was waiting on us, which, judging from the visceral response I had while writing that memory, must’ve been not quite infrequent. All of these words to me imply having a nice day. They imply having the best day. They also imply being unproductive. Which leads to being, even if only temporarily, nonconsumptive, and this is a crime in America, and more explicitly criminal depending upon any number of quickly apprehended visual cues. 

I Don’t Want to Learn!/ Mindy Kaling
Wasting Time/ True Summer

You could call summers like this a colossal waste of time. But that’s what feels immortal about them—wasting time, colossally, as the gods must do. And as energizing and healthy as it can be to participate in society and be a good citizen, I’m greedy for time with the soul, or at least with my brain, the neurons firing fiercely even when I’m sluggish—all those mysterious goings-on, so easy to ignore in the productive life.

And there’s something essential and delicious about getting off the social map of work and school, no one knowing what you’re doing or even really thinking about you. You begin to lose the boundaries of yourself. Part of society’s function is to say clearly: this is your job and these are your accomplishments, this is your family and your social circle, this is what you look like and your general identifiable personality. It’s comforting and necessary to be so defined. And we are social animals, and all of that, and there’s definitely good reason to engage, engage, engage with the world—by which is largely meant, other people. But I’ve always been more drawn to the nonhuman world, to the fringes of knowability—space and prehistory, the first attempts at civilizations, the alien nature of reptiles and creatures of the deep sea. I think most of us are this way, sometimes, secretly, and it’s difficult to engage with such things while on a lunch break at the office, gossiping about the boss. Somehow it’s easier at home, wearing a sloppy shirt. And even easier on a walk in the dead heat of summer of your college town, just you and the senior citizens out there, having a few stray thoughts. The self free of the fetters and comforts of occupation and so taking up as much space as it cares to, so much space that it might seem a bit scary. Roaming and thinking or not even thinking. Nothing glamorous or romantic about it at all, but somehow, sometimes, closer to the unknowable and the elusive. One minute you’re eating a tomato and red onion sandwich off your belly while loading up Netflix, and the next you’re pouring a glass of water and feeling somehow closer to God.

sloth and the benefits of being lazy
slow time from (Re) Claiming Education

Lately, I’ve started to think more about how living beside/s isn’t just about space, it’s also about time. A different way of living and learning in time. Within the university, time moves quickly and it’s divided into segments in which you must cover a lot of material in not a lot of time. There, an education is expected to be efficient, practical, and highly productive. I agree that this is important. But, what about other time frames for learning? What about rumination? Spending more time struggling with, reflecting on, being curious about and generous to ideas? Taking longer is impractical and inefficient, but also necessary for deep engagement.

Briefly: Is slowly down possible within the University? I haven’t had time to read it yet, but I can’t wait to spend some time with an article that I recently encountered: For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.

I imagine my beside/s space as disrupting fast time and productivity, where you can learn how to be patient with ideas and authors and devote serious time to feeling the force of them. In a list I created for Unofficial Student Transcripts titled “How to Read, One Strategy,” I suggested the following:

  • In your reactions to a reading, do not rush to judge (or convict, condemn) the reading or the author’s claims. Be generous and patient.
  • Develop some tentative conclusions, but keep working at it periodically until you can figure out why you are troubled or moved by the essay. This might take a long time; I’ve spent 16 years trying to figure out why one passage from Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble moves me.
against efficiency machines

(Hence the often-repeated claim about Twitter, “If you can’t explain all of your research in 140 characters, you probably don’t understand it at all.”) I am further reminded of Trinh T. Minh-Ha, who notes in her incredibly dense essay, “Writing From the Mirror-Box,” that such prescriptions are steeped in discourses of authority and arrogance. What is more conventional and deadening, she wonders aloud, than the directive that requires of the writer that she follow rules and regulations for being “clear,” “useful,” or otherwise transparent to the (electronic) eye? What then of the writer who wishes to obstruct or obscure, to disorient a reader and stop them short? What then of those creative and intellectual labors that are slow to unfurl, or otherwise appear to the efficacious eye as useless, obscurantist, impractical, marginal, or wholly unproductive? And what of critique that requires more time, for both writer and reader?

The demand for clarity and simplicity that might be best fulfilled in the format of the blog or the tweet is also a demand not to waste time. Time is a scarce quantity – you have only seconds or at best minutes to capture another’s attention, and it behooves you to ease them from one sentence to another. Time moves too quickly – you cannot tweet articles from three weeks ago, one academic tweeter scoffs, and be imagined relevant. The future is always now. There is value in being able to respond quickly to an object or event that (to evoke Walter Benjamin) flashes before you in a moment of controversy or crisis. Such an emphasis captures the transience of consciousness under capital, but does it also apprehend its deep structures? What of archival research or genealogical inquiry, wrestling with an object or event over time and allowing it to change your mind, or to change you? 

Against Efficiency Machines/ mimi thi nguyen
How Do You Slow Down Time? / Sara Lynne Puotinen

stop thinking
about things you must do!
right now!
before the day ends!
and the sun starts sinking
below the trees
and behind the garage.

start drinking
your coffee earlier
so that you can wake up
get outside
and move your legs.
first your right
then your left
then your right again
towards a field or the woods or a path
anywhere on the edge
of civilization
maybe above a gorge or under a bridge?

use your lungs:
breathe in deeply
through your nose
with your diaphragm
as your abdomen extends
so does your invitation to the world
to enter and fill you
with wonder and gratitude.

feel your skin
absorb the trees
the blue sky
the freshly cut grass
attend to the beauty
of being
not doing
anything but moving
as time

Slow Time/ may 4, 2017

Recently, I’ve been thinking about running as almost timeless, when you’re able to access a space where “regular/linear” time doesn’t exist. You’re not experiencing or tracking time; you’re just moving through space. But that doesn’t seem accurate, partly because I’m rarely really not tracking time. Even though I’ve been trying to de-emphasize my pace, I still check it on my watch every mile or so (or more). And also because I’m giving a lot of attention to slowing down. Maybe timelessness is not what I’m aiming for, but a slowing down of time. A slower pace for a more relaxed space?

Frédérick Gros’ dismissal of speedy time in A Philosophy of Walking:

But haste and speed accelerate time, which passes more quickly, and two hours of hurry shorten a day. Every minute is torn apart by being segmented, stuffed to bursting. You can pile a mountain of things into an hour. Days of slow walking are very long: they make you live longer, because you have allowed every hour, every minute, every second to breathe, to deepen, instead of filling them up by straining the joints (37).

Slow time is different, Gros adds. “Slowness means cleaving perfectly to time, so closely that the seconds fall one by one, drop by drop like the steady dripping of a tap on stone (37)”.

wish you were here you are/ rachel zucker

time isn’t the same for everyone there is
science behind this when you fly into space
you’re not experiencing time at the same rate
as someone tethered to Earth & someone
moving quickly experiences time at a slower rate
even on Earth so as I run through Central Park
at a speed not much faster than walking but slightly
I am shattering fields of time around me
& experiencing time differently from those I pass
last night I saw my son’s adult self &
in the same moment toddler self this really
happened he was playing “Wish You Were Here”
by Pink Floyd on his electric guitar & feeling it
he’s 11 & in between 2 kinds of time on the verge
of worlds I think we are too you & I who are old
young women it’s not all ‘downhill from here’ we are
here you are & I am & this beautiful moment our sons


from Spell to Practice Patience/ Ann V. DeVilbiss

Stare at ice so long, it becomes the same

as water. Stare at water so long, it is gone.

Stare at the mark made after.

Sisu? Persistent? Stubborn?
Wait/ Galway Kinnell – 1927-2014*

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. The desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.

Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

*Click on the link to hear the poet offer a beautiful explanation of why he wrote the poem and then read the poem.

Practice/ Ellen Bryant Voigt

To weep unbidden, to wake
at night in order to weep, to wait
for the whisker on the face of the clock
to twitch again, moving
the dumb day forward—

is this merely practice?
Some believe in heaven,
some in rest. We’ll float,
you said. Afterward
we’ll float between two worlds—

five bronze beetles
stacked like spoons in one
peony blossom, drugged by lust:
if I came back as a bird
I’d remember that—

until everyone we love
is safe is what you said.

ED’s new grammar of humility and hesitation

Emily Dickinson took the scraps from the separate “higher” female education many bright women of her time were increasingly resenting, combined them with voracious and “unladylike” outside reading, and used the combination. She built a new poetic form from her fractured sense of being eternally on inteIlectual borders, where confident masculine voices buzzed an alluring and inaccessible discourse, backward through history into aboriginal anagogy. Pulling pieces of geometry, geology, alchemy, philosophy, politics, biography, biology, mythology, and philology from alien territory, a “sheltered” woman audaciously invented a new grammar grounded in humility and hesitation. HESITATE from the Latin, meaning to stick. Stammer. To hold back in doubt, have difficulty speaking. “He may pause but he must not hesitate”-Ruskin. Hesitation circled back and surrounded everyone in that confident age of aggressive industrial expansion and brutal Empire building. Hesitation and Separation. The Civil War had split American in two. He might pause, She hesitated. Sexual, racial, and geographical separation are at the heart of Definition.

My Emily Dickinson

I really like this idea of hesitation and humility and aboriginal anagogy as a sharp contrast to progress, aggression, confidence/hubris, and time as always moving forwards (teleology). I tried to find a source that could explain exactly what Howe means by aboriginal anagogy but I couldn’t. I discovered that anagogy means mystical or a deeper religious sense and so, when I connect it to aboriginal, I’m thinking that she means that ED imbues pre-Industrial times (pre Progress!, where progress means trains and machines and cities and Empires and factories and plantations and the enslavement of groups of people and the increased mechanization of time and bodies and meaning and, importantly, grammar) with the sacred.

Return to and read later: Ancient Green: moss, climate, and deep time / Robin Wall Kimmerer (note, 9 may 2023: not sure when I suggested this return, but I just read “Ancient Green” yesterday and had completely forgotten that I made a note of it before.)

Robert MacFarlane on Telling Time

My notes from his talk, “Telling Time in the Anthropocene” for Duke’s Kenan Institute for Ethics, March 4th, 2021:

  • A question that should move, motivate, orient us: Are we being good ancestors?
  • Generational time as deep, beyond linear, time
  • Overlapping rates of time
  • Think in decadal time scales, not the time cycles and quick rhythms of news/taxes/elections
  • Not time of Now! or of teleology, progress, modernity
  • Think of time in spirals, circles not arrows
  • We need to become time literate
  • Future retrospective time: imagine a future judge or reader of our present, distant reading of the future, tense: “will have been”
  • Tree time (Overstory)
  • Time outside the horizon of death, time as generative/natality
Not only slower time, but longer time

Robert Macfarlane’s talk on March 4th was about another way in which our relationship to time is inadequate to the present moment, to the Anthropocene and to the climate crisis. Macfarlane argued that we must relearn how to tell time. Most of the cycles that structure our lives are short. The tax year, news cycle, and terms of government; the longest of these is no more than four or five years long. These short units of time make us unfit for decisions that will affect people in generations to come. They also curtail our ability to integrate deep time into our life, to think “forwards into unknowable futures as well as backwards into unimaginable pasts.”

Mari Jorstad in Telling Time with Robert MacFarlane
the value of history and place

the present grows out of the past. This rootedness is something we desperately need when we find ourselves awash in an amnesias present and the chain-store aesthetic of the virtual.

…it is about reengaging with something else. That “something else” is nothing less than time and space…against the placelessness of an optimized life spent online, I want to argue for a new “placefulness” that yields sensitivity and responsibility to the historical (what happened here) and the ecological (who and what lives, or lived, here).

How to Do Nothing/ Jenny Odell