One of the most conspicuous aspects of U.S. culture is that we do things fast.
Not necessarily well, not with joy and satisfaction, but fast.
Efficiency, the sister to speed, is also a major facet of our culture. Working in tandem, the two elements are a foundation of capitalistic, corporate thinking, a thinking that infuses itself in our schools, political arena, workplace (of course), entertainment world, even our churches.
Smart people do things fast. They don’t waste time, and their successful day is marked by productivity: make and produce (not necessarily well, not with joy and satisfaction) lots of stuff, or, if you’re in management, drive and push the people below you to perform. Numbers matter and time is short.
We even extol the virtues of reading fast — again, not necessarily well, not with joy and satisfaction — fooling ourselves that by the sheer volume of matter we mentally ingest, we will attain wisdom, intelligence, and understanding.
“Read through the top 100 classics in a year!”
Or better yet, “Watch the synopsis of the plots, in these fun, short video clips, of the last three centuries of major literature!”
More realistically, it’s, “Here’s this week movie! It’s based on fact! The year 1792 really did happen! This is what we think it could have looked like!”
It does not have to be this way, however. If we choose to step away from the scuffle and scrimmage of hyper frenzy, we can. It won’t be easy, because we’ll be accused of being lazy, unambitious, slothful, and shiftless, but part of becoming wise is learning to think for ourselves, and not allowing others to do it for us.
The artwork, A Novel Landscape, invites us to step into a world of quiet and peace. Resting against a tree, a young woman divides her time between reading the pages of a very good book, and looking up at the beauty before her. She has set aside time to simply enjoy this day, to lose herself in the words of the novelist, to “do nothing” all day with no obligation, no drive, no sense of guilt.
She is not speed reading.
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