September 30, 2014 By

Will Speed Survive US?


The game series with which smart phones fall instantly in love is the zeitgeist of this millennium. We crave speed and annihilate snails. No matter if we become hares in the hubris of being speedsters, leaving the space for tortoises to claim the victory spot. Though you fall asleep midway, the fact that you ‘can’ run like a smart phone series makes you fit for the time. If we use the Darwinian logic, speed is nothing but that unique factor which ensures your survivability.

However, Milan Kundera’s Slowness which celebrates the antithesis of speed and praises indolence shares with us that eons-old concern: About those hypersensitive speedsters who bypass lethargic traffic signals and shuffle tracks in a dense, snail-paced Indian city full of gutters, puddles and those extinct, less adaptive destroyers of civilization-pedestrians. Are not bike riders who are always in need for speed, in their craze for attaining survivability, decimating their capacity for survival? There is no Darwin to answer this question: ‘If speed determines a species’ capacity for adaptation and survival, is not that species’ heightened zest for speed making it less adaptive and less survivable?’ I hope Richard Dawkins will come up with a scientific explanation. Thank you, in advance.
But Kundera’s novel gives us a philosophical answer to the question:

“Every fifty minutes somebody dies on the road in France. Look at them, all these madmen tearing along around us. These are the same people who manage to be so terrifically cautious when an old lady is getting robbed in front of them on the street. How come they have no fear when they are behind the wheel?What could I say? Maybe this: the man hunched over his motorcycle can focus only on the present instant of his flight; he is caught in a fragment of time cut off from both the past and the future; he is wrenched from the continuity of time; he is outside time; in other words, he is in a state of ecstasy; in that state he is unaware of his age, his wife, his children, his worries, and so he has no fear, because the source of fear is in the future, and a person freed of the future has nothing to fear.”

So fearlessness and speed determines every moment in our lives, especially the moments when we love someone. And in the delirium and ecstasy of speed, we hate the slow, steady immersion in being in love. That is why increase in the amount of casual sex and one night stands means an all-time dip in the experience of love. That is one of the interpretations of the love adventures featured in the novel. For the retention and realization of love, one needs memory-memory of someone or something that we love. For enhancement of memory-not the memory disk or SD card-one needs slowness:

There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting. A man is walking down the street. At a certain moment, he tries to recall something, but the recollection escapes him. Automatically, he slows down.

Meanwhile, a person who wants to forget a disagreeable incident he has just lived through starts unconsciously to speed up his pace, as if he were trying to distance himeself from a thing still too close to him in time.

The degree of slowness is directly proportional to the intensity of memory; the degree of speed is directly proportional to the intensity of forgetting”

Is there someone or some ideas or some movements in this millennium of over speed, which try to revive and enhance memory and slowness?

About that, I share my reflections tomorrow. Bye.

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