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some good reminders of doing less with more
on 5 December 2009
This book acts a good reminder to the futility of pursuing growth for growth's sake - that we need to become less worried about growing GDP and more interested in growing our personal happiness and wellbeing. Most of the points will probably have already crossed the mind of anyone who has stopped to think about the absurdity of the US consumer model of growth that is rapidly being rolled out across the world, relegating people from makers, thinkers, creators, to just buyers - their sole purpose being to keep the economy ticking over. Honore does a good job of meeting a number of organisations around the world who are advocating slowness - we all know the Slow Food Movement, but there are numerous other, like the Society for the Deceleration of Time and many others. It explores Western notions of time as a finite, limited resource and contrasts this with eastern / circular views of time.
Sometimes you do get the feeling that Honore remains a bit of speed merchant, racing around the world for fleeting meetings with different advocates of ways to slow down our lives. Importantly, Honore reminds us how living slower does not mean living worse - and may not even be incompatible with capitalist models, and living slow is not solely the reserve of the monied classes. There are an awful lots of things out there which are free and fulfilling - Western societies need to wean themselves free of their obsession with possessions, shopping and keeping up with the Joneses.
It's all the more interesting when you read the AGW doubters who claim that the AGW story is just a conspiracy to lead to our suppression by Bilderberg / the G20 / global governments. If they genuinely believe this, then it would be good to see them actually doing something to crush the system - and the simplest and most effective way would be to start living slower, buy less, learn more.
Regrettably, the majority of society is trapped in a cage of its own making. Its Brave New World, shopping is our soma - we complain about Government control, but we still willing drag ourselves mindlessly around the shops. Books like in Praise of Slowness are unlikely to change this pathetic state of affairs - largely because most of zombie Britain 'hasn't got the time' to read a book any more...