[lit-ideas] Re: The Seamy Side of Semiotics

  • From: Eric Yost <mr.eric.yost@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 28 May 2008 02:35:38 -0400

John Wager: Believe it or not, most of this came from re-reading the Tao Teh Ching. We overlook the importance of silence. Students need the time to think; teachers rarely give them that time.

Here's a capsule book review I wrote many years ago. It seems to address the issue.

_Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything_ by James Gleick, Vintage Paperbacks (Random House) 2000.

[James Gleick is the best-selling author of _Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynmann_, and _Chaos: Making a New Science_, both of which were nominated for the National Book Award.]

Chances are, you will not read this review. If you do, you'll probably just scan it. After all, you are a busy person with lots of things to do. Your time is precious, your inbox crowded with E-mail.

You microwave your food. You multitask on computers with ever-increasing processing speed. You watch pre-recorded Olympic sports timed to the millisecond. You don’t write letters anymore because E-mail is so much faster. You don’t wait for the 6:30 news or the evening newspaper; when a major news story breaks, your computer notifies you immediately. You vote for politicians who campaign with “sound bites” of ten seconds or less.

You may have been hired because of your “quick thinking,” and you may accept the current wisdom that equates that “quick thinking” with intelligence.

However, you probably do not get enough sleep. You may be severely fatigued right now. If you drive, you spend more time than ever before stuck in traffic. You may also be increasingly concerned that you do not have enough time to perform all your daily tasks. Perhaps you are considering attending, or have already attended, a “time management seminar.”

When you do encounter that rare peace -- an interlude with nothing scheduled -- you may be bored.You have to go out. It’s time to go out. You stand before the elevator, waiting, You may push the elevator call button twice; just to make sure the microchip governing the elevator’s position is aware of yours (even though elevators are not programmed to respond to more than one call from a floor).

The elevator arrives after what seems like a long time. You step inside and push the “door close” button (even though most apartment buildings disable their “door close” buttons to avoid liability and injury from closing doors).

Get to the point, you interject, what's the bottom line?

You may be suffering from what Gleick calls “hurry sickness,” the result of our global obsession with speed. When did we start to “slide down this long, strange slope of milliseconds,” and where is the accelerando taking us?

_Faster_ by James Gleick is a brilliant debriefing on our accelerating world lifestyle. The book is informative, well written (a fast-paced read that caters to its own thesis), and is soundly researched. Even as it explodes current myths of efficiency, _Faster_ will make you see your daily life with new eyes.

To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off,
digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html

Other related posts: