Slow and Slothful

patient, inefficient, not shaped by productivity and use value, not needing to always be fast or productive

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.

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.
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?

It’s interesting to contrast Zucker’s pithy portrayal of quick time with 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)”.


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?