October 1, 2014 By KS Shameer

Slow Rebellion in the Age of Hyper-parenting


Carl Honore has been compared backhandedly to Karl Marx. According to the Financial Times Honore’s book In Praise of Slowness is to slow movement what Das Capital is to Communism. It’s not wrong to say that the book named as slow movement sporadic incidents of protests against quick, fast paced lives by bringing lives to a slow pace. This movement in its turn was scattered into diverse slow movements like slow food (notably against fast food)-too much time spent for making food makes it tastier and healthier, slow parenting and slow reading etc.


Honore lays stress on epicurean values, on how to enjoy our lives. He contrasts this with boring, listless and mind shattering continuum of fast paced lives, which hardly thrill us. “In our hedonistic age, the slow movement has a marketing ace up its sleeve. It peddles pleasure. The central tenet of the slow philosophy is taking the time to do things properly and thereby enjoy them more.”

Why is it necessarily so? Honore gives us an analogy of knitting by quoting Bernadette Murphy from her Zen and the Art of Knitting: “There is a great hunger in our culture right now for meaning, for things that connect us with the world and with other people, things that really nurture soul. Knitting is one way of taking time to appreciate life, to find that meaning and make those connections.” It is so slow that we see the beauty inherent in every tiny act that makes up a sweter.

The book sends its glance across the space of modern civilisation-towards food, cities, mind/body, medicine, sex, work, leisure and children.


In the chapter ‘Benefits of Working Less Hard’ he says: ‘For the Slow movement, the workplace is a key battlefront. When the job gobbles up so many hours, the time left over for everything else gets squeezed. Even the simple things-taking the kids to school, eating supper, chatting to friends-become a race against the clock.’ The chapter on sex is a shift diverted from macho, American style lovemaking to the easy, slow-paced moments of tantric lovemaking. On raising children, he says: ‘The fear that one’s kid may fall behind is not new. Back in the eighteenth century Samuel Johnson warned parents not to dither: “whilst you stand deliberating which book your son shall read first, another boy has read both.” In the 24/7 global economy, the pressure to stay ahead of the pack is more ferocious than ever, leading to what experts call “hyper-parenting”, the compulsive drive to perfect one’s children. To give their offspring a head start, ambitious parents play Mozart to them in the womb, teach them sign language before they are six months old and use Baby Webster flash cards to teach them vocabulary from their first birthday.’

The book is a celebration of slowness and equates it with freedom: ‘Spending more time with friends and family costs nothing. Nor does walking, cooking, meditating, making love, reading or eating dinner at the table instead of in front of television. Simply resisting the urge to hurry is free.

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