Kundera, Milan, Slowness
New York: 1995
Pages 2 and 3
Speed is the form of ecstasy the technical revolution has bestowed on man. As opposed to a motorcyclist, the runner is always present in his body, forever required to think about his blisters, his exhaustion; when he runs he feels his weight, his age, more conscious than ever of himself and of his time of life.
This all changes when man delegates the faculty of speed to a machine: from then on, his own body is outside the process, and he gives over to a speed that is noncorporeal, nonmaterial, pure speed, speed itself, ecstasy speed. A curious alliance: the cold impersonality of technology with the flames of ecstasy.
Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared? Ah, where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars? Have they vanished along with footpaths, with grasslands and clearings, with nature?
There is a Czech proverb that describes their easy indolence by a metaphor: “They are gazing at God’s windows.”
A person gazing at God’s windows is not bored: he is happy.
In our world, indolence has turned into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored, is constantly searching for the activity he lacks.